We are continuing in siman 4. The Chayei Adam had introduced the concept that if a person can control their urge to relieve themselves up to 4 milin, they could recite shema or brachos. Rav Akiva Eiger points out that the language used to describe these 4 milin is different from other places in which it is used. He explains that the timeframe of 4 milin is not the time it takes to walk the 4 milin, but rather the reaction to walking 4 milin. When a person walks, it increases the urge to relieve themselves. Thus, the 4 milin we are discussing refers to an urge which is strong enough that if one were to walk 4 milin, they would have difficulty holding in the urge, rather than waiting the distance of 4 milin. Such an urge precludes a person from starting davening.
The Chayei Adam continues, and writes that even if the urge is not significant (i.e., one could wait the 4 milin), they should not begin davening but rather go relieve themselves. The Chayei Adam adds that even if a person will miss tefillah betzibur, it is preferable to daven in a state of cleanliness rather than make tefillah betzibur.
If the person is concerned that they will miss the zman tefillah, if they can wait the 4 milin, they should daven rather than relieve themselves. The zman tefillah for shachris is 4 halachic hours after sunrise. If one misses the zman tefillah, they can daven until chatzos, but it is not considered tefillah bizmano, tefillah at its proper time. Thus, for example, if the latest zman tefillah is 10am, if it is currently 9:40 and one estimates that if they go to relieve themselves they will miss the zman tefillah, they should daven before relieving themselves. (In the parentheses, the Chayei Adam adds that the above opinion is debatable, based on the different versions of the text of the Gemara.)
In all situations, if one can control the urge for 4 mil, Bedieved they are yotzei. In this situation, it is akin to a bedieved, and a person may daven in order to avoid missing the zman tefillah. Lechatchilla, however, they should not put themselves into this situation, but once they are in the situation, they may daven.
The Chayei Adam continues, and writes that if one cannot wait the 4 milin, but nevertheless davens, they are not yotzei shmoneh esrei, and the tefillah is considered a to’eivah, an abomination. A person would have to repeat the shmoneh esrei.
- According to Rav Akiva Eiger, the 4 milin does not refer to the amount of time one could wait, but the level of urge at the moment in question.
- The Chayei Adam holds that it is preferable to miss tefillah betzibur rather than to daven when needing to relieve oneself, even if they could wait the 4 milin.
- If one will miss zman tefillah, if they can wait the 4 milin, they should daven. If they cannot wait, they should not daven.
- If one davens shmoneh esrei when they cannot wait the 4 milin, they are not yotzei and must repeat shmoneh esrei.