Is there an issur of making eye contact with your own or someone else's makom bris? I remember seeing a sign by the Arizal's mikvah in Tzfat warning strongly against it (on halachic grounds), but I couldn't find anything in Shulchan Aruch. Can anyone shed some light?

  • 2
    See B'rachos 62b, where Sha'ul is praised for conducting himself modestly in this respect (ensuring that his private areas could not be seen by others): "אמר רבי אלעזר אמר לו דוד לשאול מן התורה בן הריגה אתה שהרי רודף אתה והתורה אמרה בא להרגך השכם להרגו אלא צניעות שהיתה בך היא חסה עליך ומאי היא דכתיב ויבא אל גדרות הצאן על הדרך ושם מערה ויבא שאול להסך את רגליו תנא גדר לפנים מן גדר ומערה לפנים ממערה להסך אמר ר' אלעזר מלמד שסכך עצמו כסוכה".
    – Fred
    Sep 2, 2016 at 2:49

1 Answer 1


The Tamlud (Shabbat 118b) mentions 1 (or possibly 2) Tannaim who claimed to have never looked (הסתכל) at their "makom bris". This is presented as a rare act of extreme piety, and there is no technical law against it. The Rambam (IB 21:24) and Shulchan Arukh (EH 23:7) mention this ancient practice as well ("Some Chasidim Rishonim used to..."), seemingly as an example of how serious the pious were about avoiding bad thoughts or of how focused they were on studying Torah. It's hard for me to imagine that very many people, if any, nowadays are on the level to be attempting this.

  • 1
    +1. This only answers half of the question, of course. I'd assume that modesty with respect to other people would be a more appropriate practice for the average person (except in cases of a mohel or doctor operating on an adult, etc.).
    – Fred
    Sep 2, 2016 at 3:18
  • @Fred Maybe qua politeness. I'm not sure that modesty itself plays a role (assuming of course you don't expect this to directly result in Hirhurim). Either way it's highly likely that these are the sources the OP saw referenced
    – Double AA
    Sep 2, 2016 at 3:31
  • Preventing hirhurim isn't the only factor behind modesty; there's inherent value in modest behavior (sort of per what you mentioned in this comment, and related to my above comment here). I know a Rosh Yeshiva who conducts himself modestly when going to the mikva for this reason. And, yes, politeness is also a good reason.
    – Fred
    Sep 2, 2016 at 3:47
  • +1 is it possibly related to not looking at oso makon?
    – hazoriz
    Apr 12, 2018 at 15:29
  • @hazoriz maybe in that both are seemingly supererogatory modesty practices. they don't have the same source or anything.
    – Double AA
    Apr 12, 2018 at 15:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .