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Havin' a gas with the Jewish Law

By Eliezer Korn

A very interesting idea is found tucked away in the Code of Jewish Laws. If a person is praying and in the middle of prayer he finds that he must expel gas (Latin: Fartius Spontaneous ), since standing before ones maker is equated to standing before a physical king, he is told by the Jewish Law to step back some six feet from the spot of his prayer and let loose. (Yes, I'm not making it up - look in the Shulcan Aruch in chapter 103). After the fragrance has dissipated he is instructed to say the following before continuing with his prayer:

"Master of the Universe, You have created us with holes and openings. Before you is revealed our disgrace and shame. Disgraced and shamed in our life time; worms and maggots in our death."

After repeating the above mentioned prayer, he returns to his original place and continues his prayer.

Now this may seem really an oddball in the annals of Jewish Law, but the truth of the matter is that it gives us a true and deep insight into the philosophy and values of Judaism. Here is a fellow in the middle of his prayer, and he is suddenly gripped by the urge to, uhm, let one go. Even more so, he is unable to hold himself back. Now he is at this time conversing with none other than his Creator, to whom this is a totally unacceptable act. Yet, he is instructed to move out and let 'er rip!

Many times we are lead to believe, and even more times we delude ourselves into believing that we are in control of our lives, that we can control our destinies, be it individual or collective. But the truth is just the opposite! If on our own bodies, we lack the ability to exact control, isn't a ridiculous thought that we can control that which is out side of our selves?

But yet how many people do you know that run themselves ragged and nutty, trying to control situations and people and in the process, they cause harm to others and frustrate themselves thoroughly. Would it not be better to take a little lesson from that poor fellow with the active gastro-intestinal tract, and realize our limitations, admit them to ourselves and then keep on with life?

Continuing on, Code of Jewish Law restricts this law to a person who prays in private. A person who prays in a public group, in a synagogue, should not make himself noticeable by moving backwards. Again we see from this, that although a person has to realize his own limitations; that is between him and himself only. He must know the truth about himself. However in public, he must maintain his image, and not deface his character by calling attention to his defects.

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