If you wake up 5 minutes before sof zman kryat shema and you have to use the bathroom.

Going to the bathroom when necessary is deorayasa (Shulchan Aruch 3:17) and so is saying the shema. Also there might be a halacha that says that you can't recite prayers or learn torah when you need to use the facilities (I can't find the source right now).

Which one do you pick and why?

  • Please tell us where this halacha is.
    – preferred
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 13:26
  • @preferred, I know that when you have to go, you're obligated to go because of "do not become abominable in your camp" (Shulchan Aruch Siman 3, saif 17). Not sure about the source of not praying while having to go.
    – Ani Yodea
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in 12:3 that states that while you should not Daven (nor learn Torah) if you need to relieve yourself, if you can "hold it in" for 72 minutes then you may Daven, if there's no time to do both.

If you cannot wait that long, then you have to first relieve yourself, even if it means missing the deadline for Shma or Davening.

  • 1
    Danny, usually you can apply this rule. But with shema, it is deoraysa, does the same apply?
    – Ani Yodea
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 14:09
  • That source in the kitzur doesn't seem to include shema yonanewman.org/kizzur/kizzur12.html.
    – Ani Yodea
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 14:16
  • @Ramin - you may be stretching the semantics of the source. Kriyat Shema is a part of the prayers, unless the questioner is asking about reciting kriyat shema outside of the prayers itself so as not to miss the time deadline. My understanding - Kriyat Shmea would fit the classification of "Divrei Torah" - words of Torah - that is cited in the Shulchan Aruch source. So either way, you should relieve yourself first.
    – DanF
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 14:24
  • I am asking about reciting kriyat shema outside of prayers.
    – Ani Yodea
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 14:34
  • 1
    @gaagu - interesting - especially the trouble he goes to, to try prove his point. It's clearly not the simple way to read the Halocho - sa he himself starts the Siman: מי שאינו יכול לשמור את עצמו מלהפיח שבעל כרחו מפיח, ואי אפשר לו לגמור קריאת שמע ותפילה בלא הפחה – מוטב שיעבור זמן קריאת שמע ותפילה, ממה שיתפלל בלא גוף נקי. Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 10:18

בל תשקצו of Shulchan Aruch 3:17 isn't biblical, only rabbinic (Terumat Hadeshen).

One must skip prayer until tashlumin in this case, because there is the issue of speaking unsuitably before the king. See Berachot 23a:

אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן הנצרך לנקביו הרי זה לא יתפלל משום שנאמר (עמוס ד, יב) הכון לקראת אלהיך ישראל ואמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן מ"ד (קהלת ד, יז) שמור רגלך כאשר תלך אל בית האלהים.. רב אשי ואיתימא רב חנינא בר פפא אמר שמור נקביך בשעה שאתה עומד לפני

Even though prayer is a mitsva derabim (Berachot 47b) and בל תשקצו is only a mitsva for an individual, and עשה דרבים דחי עשה דיחיד (Berachot 47b), since one has tashlumin for a missed prayer it is preferable to wait (Teshuvot Harama 98).

But not Keriat Shema, even according to the opinions that Keriat Shema has tashlumin at a later time (Shulchan Aruch 58:7). See Rashi in Berachot 25a

אבל לתפלה - צריך הוא להראות את עצמו כעומד לפני המלך ולעמוד באימה אבל ק"ש אינו מדבר לפני המלך

where a distinction is made between prayer and the Shema, that strictly speaking Shema is not a matter of "speaking before the king" where the issue is most applicable.

Bottom line, pick Shema over bathroom in this case. However surely initially one must take care in the case of Keriat Shema as well.

  • Does this apply to gadol and katan or just katan?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 13:46

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