Berakhot 62aברכות ס״ב א
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62aס״ב א

תניא אמר רבי עקיבא פעם אחת נכנסתי אחר רבי יהושע לבית הכסא ולמדתי ממנו שלשה דברים למדתי שאין נפנין מזרח ומערב אלא צפון ודרום ולמדתי שאין נפרעין מעומד אלא מיושב ולמדתי שאין מקנחין בימין אלא בשמאל אמר ליה בן עזאי עד כאן העזת פניך ברבך אמר ליה תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך

It was taught in a baraita in tractate Derekh Eretz that Rabbi Akiva said: I once entered the bathroom after my teacher Rabbi Yehoshua, and I learned three things from observing his behavior: I learned that one should not defecate while facing east and west, but rather while facing north and south; I learned that one should not uncover himself while standing, but while sitting, in the interest of modesty; and I learned that one should not wipe with his right hand, but with his left. Ben Azzai, a student of Rabbi Akiva, said to him: You were impertinent to your teacher to that extent that you observed that much? He replied: It is Torah, and I must learn.

תניא בן עזאי אומר פעם אחת נכנסתי אחר רבי עקיבא לבית הכסא ולמדתי ממנו שלשה דברים למדתי שאין נפנין מזרח ומערב אלא צפון ודרום ולמדתי שאין נפרעין מעומד אלא מיושב ולמדתי שאין מקנחין בימין אלא בשמאל אמר לו רבי יהודה עד כאן העזת פניך ברבך אמר לו תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך

Similarly, we learned in a baraita: Ben Azzai said: I once entered a bathroom after Rabbi Akiva, and I learned three things from observing his behavior: I learned that one should not defecate while facing east and west, but rather while facing north and south; I learned that one should not uncover himself while standing, but while sitting; and I learned that one should not wipe with his right hand, but with his left. Rabbi Yehuda said to him: You were impertinent to your teacher to that extent? He replied: It is Torah, and I must learn.

רב כהנא על גנא תותיה פורייה דרב שמעיה דשח ושחק ועשה צרכיו אמר ליה דמי פומיה דאבא כדלא שריף תבשילא אמר לו כהנא הכא את פוק דלאו ארח ארעא אמר לו תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך

On a similar note, the Gemara relates that Rav Kahana entered and lay beneath Rav’s bed. He heard Rav chatting and laughing with his wife, and seeing to his needs, i.e., having relations with her. Rav Kahana said to Rav: The mouth of Abba, Rav, is like one whom has never eaten a cooked dish, i.e., his behavior was lustful. Rav said to him: Kahana, you are here? Leave, as this is an undesirable mode of behavior. Rav Kahana said to him: It is Torah, and I must learn.

מפני מה אין מקנחין בימין אלא בשמאל אמר רבא מפני שהתורה ניתנה בימין שנאמר מימינו אש דת למו רבה בר בר חנה אמר מפני שהיא קרובה לפה ורבי שמעון בן לקיש אמר מפני שקושר בה תפילין רב נחמן בר יצחק אמר מפני שמראה בה טעמי תורה

The Gemara asks: Why must one not wipe himself with his right hand, but with his left? Rava said: Because the Torah was given with the right hand, as it is stated: “At His right hand was a fiery law unto them” (Deuteronomy 33:2). Rabba bar bar Ḥana said: Because the right hand is close to the mouth, i.e., people eat with the right hand. And Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: Because one ties the phylacteries onto his left hand with his right hand. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: Because one points to the cantillation notes of the Torah with his right hand.

כתנאי רבי אליעזר אומר מפני שאוכל בה רבי יהושע אומר מפני שכותב בה רבי עקיבא אומר מפני שמראה בה טעמי תורה

The Gemara notes that this is parallel to a tannaitic dispute: Rabbi Eliezer says: One is forbidden to wipe himself with his right hand because he eats with it. Rabbi Yehoshua says: Because he writes with it. Rabbi Akiva says: Because he points to the notes of the Torah with it.

אמר רבי תנחום בר חנילאי כל הצנוע בבית הכסא נצול משלשה דברים מן הנחשים ומן העקרבים ומן המזיקין ויש אומרים אף חלומותיו מיושבים עליו

Rabbi Tanḥum bar Ḥanilai said: Anyone who is modest in the bathroom will be saved from three things: From snakes, from scorpions and from demons. And some say that even his dreams will be settling for him.

ההוא בית הכסא דהוה בטבריא כי הוו עיילי ביה בי תרי אפילו ביממא מתזקי רבי אמי ורבי אסי הוו עיילי ביה חד וחד לחודיה ולא מתזקי אמרי להו רבנן לא מסתפיתו אמרי להו אנן קבלה גמירינן קבלה דבית הכסא צניעותא ושתיקותא קבלה דיסורי שתיקותא ומבעי רחמי

The Gemara relates: There was a particular bathroom in the city of Tiberias, where, when two would enter it, even during the day, they would be harmed by demons. When Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi would each enter alone, they were not harmed. The Sages said to them: Aren’t you afraid? Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi said to them: We have learned through tradition: The tradition to avoid danger in the bathroom is to conduct oneself with modesty and silence. The tradition to end suffering is with silence and prayer.

אביי מרביא ליה אמיה אמרא למיעל בהדיה לבית הכסא ולרביא ליה גדיא שעיר בשעיר מיחלף

Because fear of demons in bathrooms was pervasive, the Gemara relates: Abaye’s mother raised a lamb to accompany him to the bathroom. The Gemara objects: She should have raised a goat for him. The Gemara responds: A goat could be interchanged with a goat-demon. Since both the demon and the goat are called sa’ir, they were afraid to bring a goat to a place frequented by demons.

רבא מקמי דהוה רישא מקרקשא ליה בת רב חסדא אמגוזא בלקנא בתר דמלך עבדא ליה כוותא ומנחא ליה ידא ארישיה

Before Rava became the head of the yeshiva, his wife, the daughter of Rav Ḥisda, would rattle a nut in a copper vessel for him. This was in order to fend off demons when he was in the bathroom. After he was chosen to preside as head of the yeshiva, he required an additional degree of protection, so she constructed a window for him, opposite where he would defecate, and placed her hand upon his head.

אמר עולא אחורי הגדר נפנה מיד ובבקעה כל זמן שמתעטש ואין חברו שומע איסי בר נתן מתני הכי אחורי הגדר כל זמן שמתעטש ואין חברו שומע ובבקעה כל זמן שאין חברו רואהו

With regard to where one may or may not go to defecate, Ulla said: Behind a fence, one need not distance himself from people and may defecate immediately. In a valley or open field, one must distance himself sufficiently so that if he passes wind, no one will hear him. Isi bar Natan taught as follows: Behind a fence one must distance himself sufficiently so that if he passes wind another does not hear him, and in a valley, one must distance himself sufficiently so that no one can see him.

מיתיבי יוצאין מפתח בית הבד ונפנין לאחורי הגדר והן טהורין

The Gemara raises an objection based on what we learned in a mishna in Teharot: Physical laborers, who usually fall into the category of am ha’aretz and are not generally cautious with regard to the laws of ritual purity, exit from the entrance of the olive press, defecate behind the fence, and are ritually pure. There is no reason to be concerned that they might become impure in the interim. This indicates that a greater distance is unnecessary.

בטהרות הקלו

The Gemara responds: With regard to the laws of ritual purity, they were lenient. To ensure maintenance of purity, they were lenient and did not require a greater distance.

תא שמע כמה ירחקו ויהיו טהורין כדי שיהא רואהו שאני אוכלי טהרות דאקילו בהו רבנן

Come and hear from what we learned: How far may workers distance themselves, and the fruit and oil will remain pure? They may distance themselves only so far that he still sees him. This contradicts the opinion of Isi bar Natan, who required them to distance themselves sufficiently that they may not be seen. The Gemara responds: Those who eat in purity are different, as the Sages were lenient with them.

רב אשי אמר מאי כל זמן שאין חברו רואה דקאמר איסי בר נתן כל זמן שאין חברו רואה את פרועו אבל לדידיה חזי ליה

Rav Ashi said: What is the meaning of: So long as another does not see him, which was the standard that Isi bar Natan said? Sufficient that another person cannot see his nakedness, although he does see him.

ההוא ספדנא דנחית קמיה דרב נחמן אמר האי צנוע באורחותיו הוה אמר ליה רב נחמן את עיילת בהדיה לבית הכסא וידעת אי צנוע אי לא דתניא אין קורין צנוע אלא למי שצנוע בבית הכסא

The Gemara relates: There was a particular eulogizer who went to eulogize an important person in the presence of Rav Naḥman. Of the deceased, he said: This man was modest in his ways. Rav Naḥman said to him: Did you go to the bathroom with him and know whether or not he was modest? As we learned in a baraita: One can only describe as modest one who is modest even in the bathroom, when no one else is there.

ורב נחמן מאי נפקא ליה מיניה משום דתניא כשם שנפרעין מן המתים כך נפרעין מן הספדנין ומן העונין אחריהן

The Gemara asks: And what difference did it make to Rav Naḥman, that he was so insistent upon the details of whether or not this man was modest? The Gemara answers: Because it was taught in a baraita: Just as the deceased are punished, so too are the eulogizers and those who answer after them.The deceased are punished for transgressions committed in their lifetimes. The eulogizers and those who answer are punished for accepting the attribution of virtues that the deceased did not possess.

תנו רבנן איזהו צנוע זה הנפנה בלילה במקום שנפנה ביום

The Sages taught in a baraita: Who is a modest person? One who defecates at night where he defecates during the day, i.e., who distances himself at night, in order to relieve himself, no less than he distances himself during the day.

איני והאמר רב יהודה אמר רב לעולם ינהיג אדם את עצמו שחרית וערבית כדי שלא יהא צריך להתרחק ותו רבא ביממא הוה אזיל עד מיל ובליליא אמר ליה לשמעיה פנו לי דוכתא ברחובא דמתא וכן אמר ליה רבי זירא לשמעיה חזי מאן דאיכא אחורי בית חבריא דבעינא למפני לא תימא במקום אלא אימא כדרך שנפנה ביום

The Gemara challenges: Is that so? Didn’t Rav Yehuda say that Rav said: One must always accustom himself to defecate in the morning and at night, when it is dark, so that he will not need to distance himself? Moreover, during the day, Rava would go up to a mil outside the city, and at night he would tell his servant: Clear a place for me in the city street. And so too, Rabbi Zeira told his servant: See who is behind the study hall, as I need to defecate. These Sages did not defecate at night in the same place where they defecated during the day. Rather, emend the statement and say as follows: In the manner that one defecates during the day, i.e. he should conduct himself at night with the same degree of modesty with which he removes his clothing when defecating during the day.

רב אשי אמר אפילו תימא במקום לא נצרכה אלא לקרן זוית

Rav Ashi said: Even if you say that the text can remain as it was: Where he defecates during the day, it was only necessary in the case of a corner, where one may conceal himself. In the interest of modesty, he should go around the corner at night, just as he does during the day.

גופא אמר רב יהודה אמר רב לעולם ינהיג אדם את עצמו שחרית וערבית כדי שלא יהא צריך להתרחק

The Gemara discusses the matter itself. Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: One must always accustom himself to defecate early in the morning and late at night so that he will not need to distance himself.

תניא נמי הכי בן עזאי אומר השכם וצא הערב וצא כדי שלא תתרחק משמש ושב ואל תשב ותמשמש שכל היושב וממשמש אפילו עושין כשפים באספמיא באין עליו

That opinion was also taught in a baraita: Ben Azzai said: Rise early in the morning and go defecate, wait for evening and go defecate, so that you will not need to distance yourself. He also said: Touch around the anus first to assist in the opening of orifices and then sit; do not sit and then touch, for anyone who sits and then touches, even if sorcery is performed in a distant place like Aspamia, the sorcery will come upon him.

ואי אנשי ויתיב ואחר כך משמש מאי תקנתיה כי קאי לימא הכי לא לי לא לי לא תחים ולא תחתים לא הני ולא מהני לא חרשי דחרשא ולא חרשי דחרשתא

The Gemara says: And if one forgets and sits and then touches, what is his remedy? When he stands, he should recite the following incantation: Not for me, not for me, neither taḥim nor taḥtim, types of sorcery, neither these nor from these, neither the sorcery of a sorcerer nor the sorcery of a sorceress.