Daf 25. Summary. One can recite Shema shirtless but for prayer one must cover his heart “because in prayer he addresses God directly and he must dress accordingly.” One who forgets to remove tefillin before entering a bathroom should not interrupt the discharge of his feces to remove them. The Sages disagree on whether one may recite Shema with fecal matter on his skin or in the presence of a foul odor. The same restrictions apply to reciting the Amida. Rav Yehuda says that if there is a substance present that may or may not be feces, one may not utter “sacred matters” in its presence; this does not apply to “uncertain” urine. Others say these restrictions only apply outside the home. The gemara asks when one is required to “conceal” (bury) his excrement.
The Sages debate whether one may recite Shema in the bath. Perhaps only if the water is murky in which case one will not see one’s own nakedness, but even so, his heel or his heart “sees” his nakedness. Rava said, “It is permitted; the Torah was not given to the ministering angels.”
Rav Yehuda said one is forbidden to recite Shema “opposite a naked gentile.” The gemara asks why single out a gentile?
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel specifies where a chamber pot must be positioned vis a vis the bed to permit one who is reclined to recite Shema. His students debate what he intended regarding the position of the pot relative to the bed. There is some confusion as to whether contradictory opinions were correctly attributed.
Rav Ahai’s son is unable to consummate his marriage. His father investigates and discovers there is a Torah scroll in the bedroom.
Comment. It would be easy to simply dismiss this daf as being full of shit– literally. However, the text has some noteworthy elements. Sure, we are up to our knees in excrement, but Rava is there to explain the necessity of wrestling with this shit:”the Torah was not given to the ministering angels,” which is to say that the Torah was given to human beings who have genitals and digest food and that these create dependencies and vulnerabilities that challenge and distract us as we strive to attain and maintain a higher level of consciousness.
In addition, there is the case of the naked gentile, which the careless reader might conclude comes to make an unfavorable comparision between the Jew and the gentile. On the contrary, it elevates the nakedness of the gentile to human status, which is more than we might have expected from a chauvinist text.