We are continuing siman 25, where the Chayei Adam is discussing the issue of tzoah on a person’s body. We learned that, bedieved, tzoah on the body is only an issue in the vicinity of the nose and mouth, but lechatchilla one should not have any tzoah on them at all. One place that these halachos have significant relevance is in cleaning oneself after relieving themselves. This is known as tzoah b’pi hataba’as.
The Chayei Adam clarifies that the pi hataba’as is another place on the body in which tzoah is meakeiv bedieved. A person must be careful to clean themselves properly after going to the bathroom. The Chayei Adam clarifies that the ability to clean oneself perfectly is difficult, so it is sufficient to cleanse oneself in the normal process. He explains that if we picture a person unclothed, tzoah which would be visible when a person is sitting down, when the area of the pi hataba’as is more exposed, is a problem. Tzoah which is further in the body is not a problem. The Chayei Adam writes that Torah was not given to malachim, so one is not expected to be perfect in these areas.
However, if a person did not cleanse themselves properly, the Chayei Adam writes that they would have to repeat kriyas shema. There is an issur deoraysa to recite kriyas shema when there is tzoah present, and, as we have learned, tzoah within the machaneh of a person is considered as though the tzoah is presently in front of them. However, it is not clear to the Chayei Adam whether a person should repeat shemoneh esrei. The Mishnah Berurah paskens a person should repeat shemoneh esrei.
It is interesting to note that the Gemara discusses the usage of flat rocks to clean oneself, as they did not have toilet paper. The Gemara says that scraping away at the tzoah a few times is sufficient. Thus, we see the reassurance of the Chayei Adam, that the Torah was not given to malachim so one is not expected to be perfect in these areas, is found in the Gemara.
A person has to be careful about children as well, and make sure a child is cleaned properly. When a child is learning how to take care of themselves, and it is not clear to the parent whether the child has cleaned themselves properly, there is a halachic question whether one can answer amen to their bracha or not. The Mishnah Berurah writes that one cannot answer amen to the kaddish or brachos of children who, lo aleinu, are yesomim, and do not have parents overseeing them, because it is unclear whether they are clean. In such a situation, the community should intervene to ensure they receive the proper care.
On the other hand, some people overreact to this concern. As we learned from the Steipler’s letter (shiur 1506), one can end up causing more problems than they solve. A person can end up irritating themselves and causing bleeding issues. Some poskim recommend using something which is moist, as it tends to clean the area better. On the other hand, one should be careful not to damage their own or others’ sewer systems. Practically, as we have learned, it is sufficient for one to wipe themselves a few times, and then they may daven or make brachos.
Lechatchilla, one should not have tzoah on their body at all when reciting devarim shebikedusha. However, beshaas hadechak, if the tzoah is not on their nose or mouth, does not smell, and is covered, it is muttar to recite devarim shebikedusha.
Additionally, one must be sure they do not have tzoah b’pi hataba’as. This area is defined as the part of the pi hataba’as exposed when one is sitting down. If one wipes themselves a few times, they can assume they are clean and do not have an issue.