21 Jul HALACHICALLY SPEAKING: SUMMER HALACHOS (PART 2)
The Gemara says
that a bed should
be placed from
north to south.
One who does so
will have male
children, and his
wife will not miscarry. The head should
be to the north and feet to the south. Others say that there is no difference.
This is quoted in halachah as well.
The reason for this rule is that the Shechinah is to the east or west. When one is together with his wife, he should not face in
the direction of the Shechinah, as this is a
disgrace. Logically, this would only be an
issue when one is with his wife, and there
is no issue with a single person. However,
the Rambam does not make any distinction, and the Shulchan Aruch says it is
proper to be concerned about this even
when one is not with his wife.
The Zohar rules that the bed should be positioned from east to west. This is quoted
by other poskim as well.
Since the Zohar and the Gemara disagree,
one may do as he wishes.
Many homes do not allow the luxury of
choosing positions, especially in the small
quarters of a bungalow. Therefore, one
may rely on those opinions that permit
beds in the east-west position. One should
place his head toward the east and feet toward the west.
Even according to the opinion that one
should place the bed north to south it is
only an issue to sleep that way, but sitting
on the bed is permitted even in the eastwest position.
Drying Hands after Funeral
The custom is to wash one’s hands after
leaving a funeral or a cemetery. No utensil
is required, but the practice is to use one.
One may dry his hands after washing, although the custom is not to, in order not
to forget about the deceased. In addition,
the custom is not to take the utensil from
the hand of the previous
In the cold of winter he
may dry his hands, but not
in the summer.
If one stood four amos
away from the deceased
or did not enter the cemetery, there is no need to
wash. It is preferable not to
walk into a home until one
washes his hands. However, some permit entry
into a public building like
a shul or yeshivah before
Sweat and Washing Hands
People sweat profusely in the hot summer.
If one touches parts of his body which
are usually covered, he has to wash his
hands (when he wishes to learn, daven
or make brachos) since it is common to
sweat there. He does not have to wash his
hands after wiping sweat from areas that
are usually uncovered, since the air cools
off the sweat. It is preferable not to touch
a garment that one knows is very sweaty,
such as a hat.
If one is wearing a baseball cap while
playing ball and touches the sweat under
the cap, he should be careful to wash his
hands before making a brachah on water
at the game.
If one wears his tzitzis on top of his t-shirt
so that they do not get sweaty while playing ball, he may tie the ends of the tzitzis
together so that they do not fly in different
When to Remove the Tefillin
One should not remove his tefillin before
hearing three Kaddishes and four kedushos. The four kedushos are 1. Barchu
2. safa berurah 3. the kedushah recited at
chazaras hashatz 4. the kedushah of U’va
l’tzion. The three Kaddishes are: 1. the
half Kaddish at Barchu 2. the half Kaddish after Shemoneh Esrei 3. the Kaddish after U’va l’tzion. Accordingly, one
should not remove his tefillin until after
the Kaddish of Ashrei U’va l’tzion. Some
base the reason on the writings of Kabbalah. Many poskim say that it is proper
to wear the tefillin until after Aleinu if a
Kaddish will be recited then. Others say
that one may remove his tefillin after reciting Al kein nekaveh lecha in Aleinu.
In the hot summer when the tefillin can be
ruined from sweat, one can remove them
after Ashrei U’va l’tzion and not wait until after Aleinu. Today, most shuls are air
conditioned, so one should keep his tefillin on until after Aleinu.
Walking to Shul with Tallis and Tefillin
The halachah says that one should walk
to shul while wearing
his tallis gadol and
his tefillin. If there are
non-Jews on the way,
he should put them on
in the courtyard before entering the shul.
Similarly, if he knows
that he will pass filthy
places on the way to
shul, then he should
put them on in the
courtyard of the shul.
Others mention that
our streets are filled
with people who are
not dressed properly, and it is
not proper to wear tefillin in
the streets. Some say that if
the weather conditions are not
favorable (hot, cold, or raining), there is no need to wear
them in the street. Others say
that we are not on the level of
the Arizal to wear them in the
The Aruch Hashulchan says
that the custom is to put on the
tallis and tefillin in shul.
In fact the custom of some
gedolim was to walk to shul (and back)
wearing the tallis gadol and tefillin.
It is reported that Harav Moshe Feinstein
zt”l held that if one does not wear the tallis
and tefillin in the street, there is no need
to put them on in the area before the shul.
Rather, he can put them on in the shul itself.
Bungalow colonies and camps are generally exclusively Jewish and are clean.
Therefore, one should wear his tallis and
tefillin to shul, but the custom seems to be
On Shabbos, there is no inyan to wear the
tallis to shul, since the concept is the tallis
Covering Head with Tallis
A shatz should always keep his head
covered when davening even if it is hot.
Some are lenient if it is hot, but he should
keep his head covered during Krias Shema, Shemoneh Esrei, Krias HaTorah, and
Camps have limited space, and tefillin are
often piled up on a shelf. This sometimes
leads to an unfortunate situation where tefillin fall on the floor.
Many poskim mention that one should
fast the entire day if his tefillin fell on the
floor. If one fears that fasting will interfere with his learning, some suggest that
he learn more than usual instead of fasting. If others saw it fall there is no need to
fast. Fasting is only required if the tefillin
fell without the bag (and not in the tefillin boxes). Some give tzedakah in this
scenario. If a young child under thirteen
dropped the tefillin, neither he nor the father need to fast.
In any case, due to the weakness of our
generation many do not fast and instead
give tzedakah, do teshuvah, etc.
Large cities rarely experience sewer backups. However, this unpleasant event does
happen in bungalow colonies, and there
are issues regarding saying brachos and
learning. These halachos are very detailed, and we will only discuss how they
relate to this specific point.
The pasuk states, Your camp should be
holy. Based on this, one is not allowed to
recite words of Torah, Krias Shema, davening, or make brachos in the presence of
filth such as excrement, urine, garbage,
If the excrement is behind him he may
not recite devarim sheb’kedushah until
he distances himself four amos from the
cessation of the smell. If it is on the side,
it is considered behind him. One should
try to turn his body so the excrement is
If the excrement is in front of him, then
he has to distance himself from the excrement until it is no longer visible. There is
a dispute between the Rosh and Rashba
if it is sufficient to enter a different room.
The Rashba prohibits this as well, but the
Rosh permits devarim sheb’kedushah as
long as one does not smell the odor. We
follow both opinions; therefore, if the
excrement is in one room, one may not
say devarim sheb’kedushah even if it is
more than four amos away. If the excrement is visible, one may not say devarim
sheb’kedushah even if it is in a different
room (but thinking is allowed).
Based on the above, people must distance themselves from a sewer back-up
until there is no odor. Entering a building
would not help if one can smell the sewage.
People like to sit outside and learn. In
many bungalow colonies, the bungalows
are close to each other and each one may
have their own garbage can outside.
If a smell is emitted from the garbage can
one must make sure not to learn there, and
must distance himself four amos from
where the smell stops. In regard to our
garbage cans, the odor generally emanates from the bottom of the can and is
considered out of vision; therefore, one
does not have to move four amos from
where the smell stops. Others argue that
the garbage can is considered a separate
location. Furthermore, the garbage is usually placed in a plastic bag. This limits the
smell, and even a soiled diaper is mixed
with many other items like paper. This
prevents any issues of saying devarim