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Per Shaliach Tzibbur and passing gas, the Shulchan Aruch advises against davening or learning Torah when there is a foul smell. For many years, my schul did not have AC and every year the schul's front and side yards would be fertilised with manure. Perforce, this led to an extraordinarily unpleasant smell until B"H, we got AC. What is the case when such a smell is persistent and there is nothing that can be done to alleviate it?

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16928. Praying in the presence of a strong odor from manure is forbidden (see, for example, Shulchan Aruch OC 79:4, though there may be different opinions regarding whether manure has the same stringencies as human waste, such as having to distance oneself at least 4 cubits from where the odor ends). One may even have to repeat his prayers if he prayed in such a location (Rambam, Hil T'fila 4:9). CYLOR for the particular situation you describe. – Fred Feb 8 '15 at 23:25
  • @Fred, this was at the only Orthodox schul in my town. The rav always davens there and he permitted davening with the windows open (letting in the smell of the manure) – Noach MiFrankfurt Feb 8 '15 at 23:27
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    If the manure was from animals (not synthetic) and carried an "extraordinarily unpleasant smell" into the shul, you should ask the rav for his basis in permitting opening the windows, as it seems like it could even be a biblical prohibition to pray under the circumstances. (E.g. could it be an עת לעשות kind of rationale, as regular public prayer in that town was necessary for the survival of the community, and keeping the windows closed would have created a risk that there would be no minyan?) – Fred Feb 8 '15 at 23:33
  • @Fred, this was years ago, as I mentioned in the OP. Baruch Hashem we now have AC in the schul, so there is no longer an issue. I think you're right that he permitted it as an עת לעשות. – Noach MiFrankfurt Feb 8 '15 at 23:35
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As per Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 6 it would seem forbidden to pray there.

סעיף ו' צוֹאַת אָדָם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין לָהּ רֵיחַ רָע, וְכֵן צוֹאַת חָתוּל וּנְמִיָּה וְצוֹאַת תַּרְנְגוֹל אֱדוֹמִי (תַּרְנְגוֹל הֹדּוּ) (אינדיק) מַרְחִיקִים מֵהֶן. וּשְׁאָר צוֹאָה שֶׁל בְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וָעוֹף, מִסְּתָמָא אֵינָהּ מַסְרַחַת וְאֵין צְרִיכִים לְהַרְחִיק מֵהֶן. אֲבָל אִם מַסְרַחַת וְכֵן נְבֵלָה הַמַּסְרַחַת וְכָל דָּבָר הַמַּסְרִיחַ מֵחֲמַת עִפּוּשׁ, וְכֵן לוּל שֶׁל תַּרְנְגוֹלִים, מַרְחִיקִים מֵהֶם. וְכֵן מַרְחִיקִים מִמַּיִם סְרוּחִים. וּמֵי מִשְׁרָה שֶׁשּׁוֹרִים בָּהֶם פִּשְׁתָּן אוֹ קַנְבּוּס, סְתָמָם מַסְרִיחִים וּצְרִיכִים לְהַרְחִיק מֵהֶם כְּמוֹ מִן הַצּוֹאָה. ‏

סעיף ז' צוֹאָה יְבֵשָׁה כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁהִיא נִפְרֶכֶת עַל יְדֵי גְלִילָה, הֲרֵי הִיא כֶּעָפָר. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא בָהּ רֵיחַ רָע. אֲבָל אִם נִקְרְשָׁה מֵחֲמַת הַקֹּר, כֵּיוָן שֶׁיְּכוֹלָה לַחֲזֹר לְקַדְמוּתָהּ בִּזְמַן הַחֹם, עֲדַיִן שֵׁם צוֹאָה עָלֶיהָ. וְצוֹאָה שֶׁנִּתְכַּסְּתָה בְשֶׁלֶג, חָשׁוּב כִּסּוּי. ‏

סעיף ח' עַד כַּמָּה מַרְחִיקִים. הָיְתָה הַצּוֹאָה מֵאַחֲרָיו, צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק מִמָּקוֹם שֶׁכָּלָה הָרֵיחַ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הוּא אֵינוֹ מֵרִיחַ, צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק שִׁעוּר זֶה כְּאִלּוּ הָיָה מֵרִיחַ, וְאִם הַצּוֹאָה אֵינָהּ מַסְרַחַת, דַּי אִם מַרְחִיק מִמֶּנָּה אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת. וְאִם הַצּוֹאָה מִלְּפָנָיו, צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק כִּמְלֹא עֵינָיו. וַאֲפִלּוּ בַלַּיְלָה, צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק כַּשִּׁעוּר שֶׁהָיָה יָכוֹל לִרְאוֹתָהּ בַּיּוֹם. וְאִם הִיא מִן הַצְּדָדִים, יֵשׁ לְהַחְמִיר כְּאִלּוּ הָיְתָה בְּפָנָיו. וְיַטֶּה אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא לְאַחֲרָיו (ע"ט פ"א). ‏

However, I recall that about 30 years ago in Yeshivath Kol Torah in Bayit Vagan the sewers across the road packed up, and the stench was horrid. Yet we were permitted to continue davening there, so there must be a source permitting it.

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