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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
— Whatever conduces to their safe keeping1 is of more importance.2 Where should he put them? R. Jeremiah said: Between the coverlet and the pillow, not opposite to his head. But R. Hiyya taught: He puts them in a turban3 under his pillow? — It must be in such a way as to make the top of the turban4 project outside [the pillow]. Bar Kappara used to tie them in the bed-curtain and make them project outside.5 R. Shesheth the son of R. Idi used to put them on a stool and spread a cloth over them. R. Hamnuna the son of R. Joseph said: Once when I was standing before Raba he said to me: Go and bring me my tefillin, and I found them between the coverlet and the pillow, not just opposite his head, and I knew that it was a day of ablution [for his wife],6 and I perceived that he had sent me in order to impress upon me a practical lesson.
R. Joseph the son of R. Nehunia inquired of Rab Judah: If two persons are sleeping in one bed, how would it be for one to turn his face away and recite the Shema', and for the other to turn his face away and recite? — He replied: Thus said Samuel: [It is permitted] even if his wife is with him. R. Joseph demurred to this. [You imply, he said] 'His wife', and needless to say anyone else. On the contrary, [we should argue]: His wife is like himself,7 another is not like himself! An objection was raised: If two persons are sleeping in one bed, one turns his face away and recites the Shema' and the other turns his face away and recites the Shema'. And it was taught in another [place]: If a man is in bed and his children and the members of his household8 are at his side, he must not recite the Shema' unless there is a garment separating them, but if his children and the members of his household are minors, he may. Now I grant you that if we accept the ruling of R. Joseph there is no difficulty, as we can explain one [statement] to refer to his wife and the other to another person. But if we accept Samuel's view there is a difficulty? — Samuel can reply: And on R. Joseph's view is there no difficulty, seeing that it has been taught: If a man was in bed, and his sons9 and the members of his household with him,10 he should not recite the Shema' unless his garments separated them from him? What then must you say? That in R. Joseph's opinion there is a difference of opinion among Tannaim as to his wife. In my opinion also there is a difference among Tannaim.11
The Master has said: 'One turns his face away and recites the Shema'. But there is the contact of the buttocks? — This supports the opinion of R. Huna, who said: Contact of the buttocks is not sexual. May we say that it supports the following opinion of R. Huna: A woman may sit and separate her hallah12 naked, because she can cover her nakedness in the ground13 but not a man! — Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: It means, if her nakedness was well covered by the ground.14
The Master said: 'If his children and the members of his household were minors, it is permitted'. Up to what age? — R. Hisda said: A girl up to three years and one day, a boy up to nine years and one day. Some there are who say: A girl up to eleven years and a day, and a boy up to twelve years and a day; with both of them [it is] up to the time when Thy breasts were fashioned and thy hair was grown.15 Said R. Kahana to R. Ashi: In the other case16 Raba said that, although there was a refutation of Samuel, yet the law followed his ruling. What is the ruling here?17 — He replied to him: Do we weave them all in the same web?18 Where it has been stated [that the law follows him] it has been stated, and where it has not been stated it has not been stated.
R. Isaac said: A handbreadth [exposed] in a [married] woman constitutes sexual incitement.21 In which way? Shall I say, if one gazes at it? But has not R. Shesheth [already] said: Why did Scripture enumerate the ornaments worn outside the clothes with those worn inside?22 To tell you that if one gazes at the little finger of a woman, it is as if he gazed at her secret place! — No, It means, in one's own wife, and when he recites the Shema'. R. Hisda said: A woman's leg is a sexual incitement, as it says. Uncover the leg, pass through the rivers,23 and it says afterwards, Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen.24 Samuel said: A woman's voice is a sexual incitement, as it says, For sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely.25 R. Shesheth said: A woman's hair is a sexual incitement, as it says, Thy hair is as a flock of goats.26
R. Hanina said: I saw Rabbi hang up his tefillin. An objection was raised: If one hangs up his tefillin, his life will be suspended. The Dorshe hamuroth27 said: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee:28 this refers to one who hangs up his tefillin! — This is no difficulty: the one statement refers to hanging by the strap, the other to hanging by the box. Or if you like, I can say that in either case, whether by the strap or by the box, it is forbidden, and when Rabbi hung his up it was in a bag. If so, what does this tell us? — You might think that they must be resting on something like a scroll of the Law. Therefore we are told that this is not necessary.
R. Hanina also said: I saw Rabbi [while Saying the Tefillah] belch and yawn and sneeze and spit
and adjust his garment,1 but he did not pull it over him;2 and when he belched, he would put his hand to his chin. The following objection was cited: 'One who says the Tefillah so that it can be heard is of the small of faith;3 he who raises his voice in praying is of the false prophets;4 he who belches and yawns is of the arrogant; if he sneezes during his prayer it is a bad sign for him — some say, it shows that he is a low fellow; one who spits during his prayer is like one who spits before a king'. Now in regard to belching and yawning there is no difficulty; in the one case it was involuntary, in the other case deliberate. But the sneezing in Rabbi's case does seem to contradict the sneezing in the other? — There is no contradiction between sneezing and sneezing either; in the one case it is above, in the other below.5 For R. Zera said: This dictum was casually imparted to me in the school of R. Hamnuna, and it is worth all the rest of my learning: If one sneezes in his prayer it is a good sign for him, that as they give him relief below [on earth] so they give him relief above [in heaven]. But there is surely a contradiction between the spitting in the one case and the other? — There is no contradiction between the two cases of spitting either, since it can be done as suggested by Rab Judah. For Rab Judah said: If a man is standing saying the Tefillah, and spittle collects in his mouth, he covers it up in his robe, or, if it is a fine robe, in his scarf.6 Rabina was once standing behind R. Ashi and he wanted to spit, so he spat out behind him. Said R. Ashi to him: Does not the Master accept the dictum of Rab Judah, that he covers it up in his scarf? He replied: I am rather squeamish.
'One who says the Tefillah so that it can be heard is of the small of faith'. R. Huna said: This was meant to apply only if he is able to concentrate his attention when speaking in a whisper, but if he cannot concentrate his attention when speaking in a whisper, it is allowed. And this is the case only when he is praying alone, but if he is with the congregation [he must not do so because] he may disturb the congregation.
R. Abba kept away from Rab Judah because he wanted to go up to Eretz Israel; for Rab Judah said, Whoever goes up from Babylon to Eretz Israel transgresses a positive precept, since it says, They shall be carried to Babylon and there shall they be, until the day that I remember them, saith the Lord.7 He said: I will go and listen to what he is saying from outside8 the Academy.9 So he went and found the Tanna10 reciting in the presence of Rab Judah: If a man was standing saying the Tefillah and he broke wind, he waits until the odour passes off and begins praying again. Some say: If he was standing saying the Tefillah and he wanted to break wind, he steps back four cubits and breaks wind and waits till the wind passes off and resumes his prayer, saying, Sovereign of the Universe, Thou hast formed us with various hollows and various vents. Well dost Thou know our shame and confusion, and that our latter end is worms and maggots! and he begins again from the place where he stopped. He said:11 Had I come only to hear this, it would have been worth my while.
Our Rabbis taught: If a man is sleeping in his garment and cannot put out his head on account of the cold, he folds his garment round his neck to make a partition12 and recites the Shema'. Some say, round his heart. But how can the first Tanna [say thus]? His heart is surely in sight of the sexual organ! — He was of opinion that if the heart is in sight of the sexual organ, it is still permissible [to say the Shema'].
R. Huna said in the name of R. Johanan: If a man is walking in a dirty alley way, he puts his hand over his mouth and recites the Shema'. Said R. Hisda to him: By God, had R. Johanan said this to me with his own mouth, I would not have listened to him.13 (Some report: Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: If a man is walking in a dirty alley way, he puts his hand over his mouth and recites the Shema'. Said R. Hisda to him: By God, had R. Joshua b. Levi said this to me with his own mouth, I would not have listened to him.) But could R. Huna have said this, seeing that R. Huna has said: A scholar is forbidden to stand in a place of filth, because he must not stand still without meditating on the Torah? — There is no contradiction: one statement speaks of standing, the other of walking. But could R. Johanan have said this, seeing that Rabbah b. Bar Hanah has said in the name of R. Johanan: In every place it is permitted to meditate on words of Torah except in the bath and in a privy? And should you reply, here also one statement speaks of standing and one of walking, can that be so, seeing that R. Abbahu was once walking behind R. Johanan and reciting the Shema', and when he came to a dirty alley way, he stopped; and [when they emerged] he said to R. Johanan, Where shall I commence again, and he replied: If you have stopped long enough to finish it, go back to the beginning? — What he meant to say to him was this: I do not hold [that you need have stopped]. But taking your view, that it was necessary, if you have stopped long enough to finish it, go back to the beginning. There is a teaching in accordance with R. Huna, and there is a teaching in accordance with R. Hisda. It has been taught in accordance with R. Huna: If one was walking in a dirty alley way, he puts his hand over his mouth and recites the Shema'. It has been taught in accordance with R. Hisda: If one was walking in a dirty alley way, he should not recite the Shema'; and what is more, if he was reciting and came to one, he should stop. Suppose he does not stop, what happens? R. Meyasha the grandson of R. Joshua b. Levi said: Of him Scripture says: Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good and ordinances whereby they should not live.14 R. Assi said: Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity.15 R. Adda b. Ahabah said: Because he hath despised the word of the Lord.16 And if he stops, what is his reward? — R. Abbahu said: Of him Scripture says: Through this word17 ye shall prolong your days.18
R. Huna said: If a man's garment is girded round his waist,19 he may recite the Shema'. It has been taught similarly: If his garment, whether of cloth or of leather or of sacking, is girded round his waist, he may recite the Shema',
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