Phlegm during Tefilla

27.06.19

Question

Question:
Sometime during Shemoneh Esrei I have phlegm in my throat which I cough up . I never know what I should do. Can I spit discreetly on the floor?

 

Answer

Answer:
If you are congested then it is a good idea to try to clear yourself before Shemoneh Erei. If that doesn’t help and you cough up phlegm, then spit it into a tissue, if you don’t have you may try to remove it quietly and not to disgust others.

Explanation:
the Gemara in Brachot 62b says Rav Beibai said in the name of R’ Yehoshua ben Levi anyone who spits on Har Habayit these days it is as if he spat in Hashem’s eye, as the passuk says,” My eyes and heart are there all the time.” Rava said spiting in the Bet Knesset is permitted just like shoes, just as shoes are permitted in the Bet Knesset but not on Har Habayit so to spitting which is forbidden on Har Habayit is permitted here. 
The Gemara questions why don’t we ask from Konpandria (taking a shortcut through the Bet Knesset) and the Gemara answers :Rava said it is just like his house, just like a person will not let won’t take a short cut through his house, however spitting and shoes he is not so too by the Bet Haknesset taking a shortcut is forbidden and spitting and shoes and spitting is.

It seems for the Gemara the it is permitted to spitting the Bet Haknesset. The Yerushalmi says :R’ Yochanan would spit and rub it out. The Rosh quotes this Yerushalmi . Rabbeinu Yonah adds that even the Bavli agrees that you need to rub out the spit. He adds that if there is straw covering the floor then there is no need to rub it out. Since the spit will get absorbed. (The Mishna Berura adds sand into this list.) So rules the Shulchan Aruch OH 151:7. One may spit in the Bet Haknesset as long as you rub it out with your foot or there was some sort substance on the floor that if you spit on to it is not seen. So too in Siman 90 he rules the same.

It seems from the Shulchan Aruch  that it is permitted to spit in the Bet Haknesset but the Poskim disagree about more refined men who do not spit in their houses, can they spit in the Bet Knesset. The Siftei  Chachamim wrote that even if there are those who do not spit in the homes, they are very small minority. The Shaar Hatziyun  is unsure. Since the whole reason it is permitted in the first place is because they spit in the house and it sounds like if there is someone who won’t spit on the floor at home is forbidden to so but he leaves it with Tzarech Iyun.
The Mishnat Yosef writes of course this is in n in the time of the Talmud that the floors were dirt and no one cared it you spit in your house but nowadays it is obvious it is forbidden.

Now of course even if you say that spitting is OK nowadays however if other people find it gross when you spit on the floor that is sufficient reason to forbid it . as the Gemara in Chagigah (5a) says: When R’ Yochanan read this passuk he would cry,” …All creation will be judged on hidden things. A servant who’s master considers accidents the same as intentional, what can he do? What are hidden things? Rav said this is someone who kills a louse in front of someone else who gets disgusted. Shmuel said this is someone who spits in front of someone else and gets disgusted.
The Gemara says that to disgust someone else is forbidden. The Raaviah says it is called hidden because it is hidden from the spitter that is forbidden to disgust his friend. The Rif in Ein Yaakov writes even if he doesn’t mean to disgust his friend . The sefer Imrei Shefer explains that spitting should be done quietly  and privately otherwise it is forbidden.
Even though the Magen Avraham writes that today people are not disgusted by people spitting. The sefer Chassidim writes (253) to spit in the Bet Haknesset regularly since it is not appropriate. It also disgusts other. The Mishna Berura (315) writes : Fluid which comes out of the mouth or nose can disgust others.

What about spiting during Shemoneh Esrei? The Shulchan Aruch (Oh 97:2) writes: it is forbidden to spit (during Shemoneh Esrei) but if he has to spit, he should spit into his shirt so that it is not seen and if he is sensitive then he may spit in his hand ns throw it discreetly behind him. The best would be to check oneself beforehand as it says in siman 92:3, before Tefilla we should clear out your phlegm or anything else which might disturb him. If that does not work then the best would be to spit out to into  tissue discreetly. I am unsure if one may go spit in the sink and go back to his place.

 

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