Individual Postings 1st appeared(& were copied in html form) on the Email List Mail Jewish

From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 21:12:08 -0400 Subject: Why the Heart-Nudity Separation for Prayer Rothke and Goldberg [Vol 26n55-58] bring up the issue of why "ones heart" and "nakedness" have to be separated as a prerequisite for saying th Shemah. One verse cited in "..your camp shall be holy.."(Dt 23:15). There seems to be the possibility that verse is the "source" for prohibiting saying the Shema in the presence of either nakedness or excrement. I would like to bring another possibility and reopen the question. [Dt 6:4] clearly states: "Hear Israel...". The word "Hear" is used to derive the requirement of "concentration and understanding". Anything which intefers with my concentration is prohibited and may require my saying the Shemah over again. It would appear to me that this derivation emanates from the fact that the usual Biblical word to be used in a commandment to know something is either "say" (e.g. Dt 26:5) or know(e.g. Dt 11:2 or 4:39). The word "hear" is rather rare (check a Konkordance or CD rom). Thus it is interpreted to mean that one must concentrate and understand. This law (the requirement of concentration) introduces Rambam: Laws of Shemah 2:1 and seems to be a theme of the chapter. Although most of the nudity laws are in Chapter 3 nevertheless at least one nudity law occurs in chapter 2:7. My real point however is that the concentration theme seems to dominate the laws of Shemah: Compare the following: * No Shemah on wedding nights with a virgin since "ones mind is confused (and you can't concentrate)"(4:1-2) * One must stop for the shemah if one is walking or working in order to concentrate on the first verse/chapter(2:3-4). * There is a prohibition of reading in a non primary manner e.g. by communicating with gestures while one is reading(2:8). In light of all this maybe the prohibitions of saying the shemah in the presence of foul odors, the nudity of others and even ones own nudity is simply a law on concentration. I'd be curious as to other people's opinions on what the real prohibition is Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d; ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu