From the Rav’s Desk: 1) Davening and learning near smell of spoiled food 2) Birchas Hatorah prior to reciting the bedtime Shema if accidentally fell asleep

  1. Question: [Tuesday 7th Teves, 5781]

There is a strange smell of spoiled food in our Beis Midrash and we have tried to discover its source unsuccessfully. My question is whether it is permitted for us to continue learning and Davening in the area? The smell is very pungent.



It is forbidden to learn Torah or pray in the vicinity of the smell. So you’re left with two choices: 1) Search harder until you find the source of the smell [Yagata Umatzasa Taamin. If you have a fridge in the area, I would suggest checking all foods in the fridge as well as in the back of the fridge which sometimes gathers liquid which can spoil and release a pungent smell into the whole room.] 2) Open the windows and spray air freshener periodically in order to blend out the smell.

Sources: See Admur 79:8-9 and 86:1 that spoiled water is treated like actual feces and requires one to distance himself four Amos from the area that the smell ends [if it is not covered, otherwise distancing oneself until he can no longer smells it suffices] and that it should not be within his sight, and the same would apply to all spoiled food as rules M”B 79:23 in name of Chayeh Adam; Piskeiy Teshuvos 86:1; 79:5 regarding air freshener and that it is valid for use when the source of the smell is covered

  1. Question: [Monday, 6th Teves 5781]

I accidentally fell asleep in my bed in the early evening and when I woke up it was already in middle of the night and wanted to know what I should do about Birchas Hatorah. May I recite Kerias Shema Sheal Hamita without first reciting Birchas Hatorah, or should I first recite it and then not say it again the next morning?



If you woke up after midnight and slept for several hours, or at least more than 30 minutes, then it is proper for you to recite the blessings of Birchas Hatorah prior to reciting Kerias Shema Sheal Hamita. You do not repeat these blessings again the next morning even if you returned to sleep afterwards.

Explanation: The first thing we need to determine is whether you are even obligated in reciting Birchas Hatorah for the next day or if you are still covered under the blessing of Birchas Hatorah which you said the previous morning. This is dependent on whether you slept a standard sleep for at least 30 minutes, which is defined as that you slept on the bed as opposed to a mere chair, in which case you are obligated to recite the blessing prior to Torah learning if you woke up past midnight, as if you woke up in the morning. However, if you did not sleep for 30 minutes, or did not sleep a standard sleep such as you fell asleep on the chair over your arm, and some say even if you fell asleep on a couch, or you woke up prior to midnight, then you are still covered under the previous mornings blessing of Birchas Hatorah. Furthermore, some opinions state that if you plan on returning to sleep a second time then the blessing should only be recited after the second time, although practically we rule that it should be recited after the first time.

Even in the former case that you woke up after midnight from a standard 30 minute sleep we still need to determine whether you need to say the blessings of Birchas Hatorah prior to reciting Kerias Shema Sheal Hamita. Practically, Admur rules that there are communities which are lenient to permit reciting prayer verses prior to Birchas Hatorah, although it is a more proper custom to recite Birchas Hatorah prior to reading any verse from scripture, and thus in the above case it is proper for you to recite the blessings of Birchas Hatorah prior to saying Kerias Shema Sheal Hamita.

Sources: See regarding reciting Birchas Hatorah upon awakening in middle of the night: Admur 47:7; 47:8; Siddur Admur; Mahrsham 3:337; M”B 4:27; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 18 and 47:15 and 47:17 See regarding reciting verses of scripture prior to Birchas Hatorah: Admur 46:8; Michaber and Rama 46:9; Taharas Yisrael 240:20 that one should not say Mizmor Ledavid Hashem Roiy if he woke up from sleep in middle of the night and is rather to think it in his mind; See Minchas Yitzchak 8:5 who is lenient to permit saying two chapters of Tehillim without saying Birchas Hatorah if he woke up in middle of the night and plans to return to sleep; See Sheyikadesh Atzmo 11:8 footnote 10 and 13 and Poskim there in length; For the full details of this matter see our corresponding book “awaking like a Jew” chapter 9 Halacha 11!

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