If my shoes have come in contact with chicken feces through everyday work and there is a lingering smell even after washing them off, although faint it's still apparent to me, can I say brachos?

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    See siman 76 in orach Chaim. But you might want to rephrase this question so it doesn't sound like you are asking for a halachic ruling.
    – user6591
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 18:19
  • @DanF I don't think so, because here it could be more subjective.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 19:30
  • OC 89:8 talks about the prohibition of praying next to garbage. Ba'er halacha states that this is a stringency b/c it is assumed that garbage contains excrement. I wonder if a similar assumption can be made to your clothes that smell from excrement after you have been working in the coop?
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


This is an interesting question:

  1. The problem is with feces
  2. Feces of chickens
  3. you explain what is in contact and from what the smell comes.
  4. You say that shoes are in contact with feces but was washed, and the smell partially disappear.

  1. Are feces of chicken considered as a problem according to the Halacha? Yes and no! See Gemara Brachot 25a:

    לא יקרא אדם ק''ש לא כנגד צואת אדם ולא כנגד צואת כלבים ולא כנגד צואת חזירים ולא כנגד צואת תרנגולים. ‏

A man should not recite the Shema' either in front of human excrement or of the excrement of dogs or the excrement of pigs or the excrement of fowls or the filth of a dungheap which is giving off an evil smell.

אמר רבא לית הלכתא כי הא מתניתא (בכל הני שמעתתא) אלא כי הא דתניא לא יקרא אדם ק''ש לא כנגד צואת אדם ולא כנגד צואת חזירים ולא כנגד צואת כלבים בזמן שנתן עורות לתוכן. ‏{‏ רש"י: אצואת כלבים וחזירים קאי שדרכן לתתן. בעבוד העורות אבל צואת אדם אפי' בלא עורות שהרי אין דרכן לתתן שם הלכך ע''כ בלא עורות קאמר ‏} ‏

Raba said: The law is not as stated in this Baraitha, but it has been taught in the following: A man should not recite the Shema' in front either of human excrement or excrement of pigs or excrement of dogs when he puts skins in them. {Rashi explained that this condition is said for dog and swine, but for man's feces it is prohibited without conditions}

We see that Rashi does not explain the status of chicken's feces. Tosfot discusses this and one of the opinions in Tosfot is that the feces of chicken are considered as feces only when they are in the hen house. See bellow the psak of Shulchan Aruch. Tosfote discussed also the different kinds of poultry.

  1. Is it prohibited to say brachot when there is a bad smell coming directly from feces? Yes, see bellow the previous statement in the same Gemara:

אתמר ריח רע שיש לו עיקר ‏{‏ רש"י: שהצואה מונחת שם ומסרחת ‏}‏ רב הונא אמר מרחיק ד' אמות וקורא ק''ש ורב חסדא אמר מרחיק ד' אמות ממקום שפסק הריח וקורא ק''ש. ‏

It has been stated: [If there is] an evil smell [proceeding] from some tangible source {Rashi: The excreta alight there and smell bad}, R' Huna says that on removes [from the source of the smell] four cubits and recites the Shema'; R' Hisda says: He removes four cubits from the place where the smell ceases, and then recites the Shema'.

  1. If the shoes are washed, the excretas are removed, is the smell still considered as from tangible source? See Gemara 25b:

ת''ר גרף של רעי ועביט של מי רגלים אסור לקרות ק''ש כנגדן ואף ע''פ שאין בהן כלום ‏ { ‏ תוספות: פי' רש''י של חרס בלוע משמע לפירושו אבל כלי דלא בלע כגון זכוכית אפשר דשרי ‏ }. ‏

Our Rabbis taught: It is forbidden to recite the Shema' in face of a chamber pot for excrement or urine even if there is nothing in it {Tosfot: Rashi said in terra cotta, and is soaked, so, a chamber pot in glass which does not absorb may be permitted}.

We see that from Rashi's point of view, one of the problems of the chamber pot is absorbed feces. So may be that the fact that the shoes smell is a sign of absorbed feces.

  1. Feces on the shoes without smell. See Gemara 25b:

בעא מר בריה דרבינא צואה דבוקה בסנדלו מאי תיקו. ‏

Mar the son of Rabina inquired: What is the rule if there is some dung sticking to his shoe (i.e. under the sole)? - This was left unanswered.

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 79, 7, Chicken's feces, as mentionned in Gemara (according to Tosfot) is not equivalent to human feces, i.e. the out of the hen house there is no prohibition to read Shema in front of them.

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 87, 1 : The halacha is ruled according to Rashi for absorbed excretas, but some Rishonim may allow for the case of hen house with chicken's feces, if it is washed. Additionally when the smell become clearly different from the smell of feces, there is a reason to allow, (see the second link bellow, regarding Kohanim and sweat).

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 76, 2 : When feces touch the sole of shoes, despite that we can not see the feces when the foot is on the ground and that they are not smelling, we cannot read Shema.

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 79, 1 : For smelling feces we need to remove four cubits from the place where the smell ceases in way to read Shema.

I want to say you that I am not sure that it is prohibited but probably not prohibited. The fact that you are out of the hen house and that the shoes are washed makes a difference between shoes and hen house, the fact that chicken's feces are different from human's feces may make a big difference for "absorbed feces" in a chamber pot; the fact that shoes are not in terra cotta may make the washing more effective as with tissue clothes. The fact that some residual smell remains is perhaps a smaller problem, because there is no feces, no tangible source, and because that is not the same smell after whashing a Apparently no problem. See here a good link, and here

  • fixed an error concerning the brayta of chickens
    – kouty
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 4:37

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