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1510 – Brachos and Tefilos – (Klal 3 Siman 6) – Tzoah – 1 – Introduction – 1

D'var Halacha
D'var Halacha
1510 - Brachos and Tefilos - (Klal 3 Siman 6) - Tzoah - 1 - Introduction - 1


We are beginning siman 6, which begins the halachos of tzoah. 


The Chayei Adam begins the siman with a review of the source for the issur of tzoah (see shiur 1502). The Chayei Adam writes that the Torah teaches (Devarim 23:10) that when Klal Yisroel are at war, and certainly on a regular basis, they must maintain the kedusha of the camp. Chazal understood that the Torah is giving us a positive command that when one is involved in the speech or thought of torah or tefillah, the place must be free from items which people relate to as being disgusting. This includes tzoah or anything which smells as explained below. It also includes mavuos hametunafim, outdoor places which are disgusting. They lived in a world with animals and animal droppings, and although we will see that some types of animals do not impose an inherent problem, a buildup of droppings becomes disgusting to people, and becomes something from which people distance themselves. Therefore, one should not speak or think about divrei torah in these places. This was much more of a challenge in previous generations; for example, one could have trouble reciting kiddush levana outside or walking in the street and thinking in learning. Baruch Hashem, we no longer have this challenge. Even though we have replaced this challenge with pollution from cars, pollution does not come from decay, and only bad smells which come from decay are an issue. 


The Chayei Adam lists specific animals and situations which are problematic, but we are not going to discuss them. He mentions that the waste of a dog alone is not problematic, unless there is a large buildup of it.


The Chayei Adam continues, and writes that graf shel re’i (a chamberpot) (even without anything inside) receives the halachic status of tzoah. The chamberpot is considered disgusting even when there is nothing inside of it, and thus receives a din deoraysa of tzoah. A practical application of this halacha is an ill person who is using a bedpan, or a parent training a child. Even when these items are empty, they are considered tzoah.


The Chayei Adam explains that the problem generated by these items can be fixed by covering them. We see in the pasuk which is the source of the issur that the tzoah should be covered and does not necessarily have to be removed. The covering is sufficient even if it will not remain, such as snow or a thick phlegm. As long as the tzoah is covered and cannot be seen, the cover is sufficient. 

If the tzoah is covered in glass, where it is visible, it is muttar as well, because it is covered. Glass is different from snow or phlegm, because it doesn’t dissolve. We will discuss the qualification that the tzoah cannot be smelled in the upcoming shiurim, be’ezras Hashem.



  • Not cannot speak or think torah or tefillah in the presence of tzoah, mavuos hametunafim, or an item which is considered tzoah, such as a chamberpot or bedpan.
  • It is sufficient if the tzoah is covered even by a temporary covering.

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