19b: Once, in Rav's presence, someone referred to R. Zecharia bar Kefutal, and Rav made his fingers into the shape of a vet to gesture that it is spelled Kev
utal. Why did he gesture? Because he was in the middle of reciting the Sh'ma
, when one is not allowed to talk. An objection is raised: We have learned that gesturing with one's head, eyes, or hands is considered talking during the Sh'ma
. And it is settled: gesturing is only forbidden during the Sh'ma
paragraph, but not during the two following paragraphs; talking aloud is prohibited throughout.
Would ASL count as talking? It seems to be that the answer must be "yes", even for the second and third paragraphs of Sh'ma
. Anyone out there know? (sethg
, didn't you do a shiur
on this once?)
One other thought. First, some background: we are not allowed to talk between the preprandial handwashing and the eating of the bread, except for the needs of the motzi
. (For example, one can say "salt!" if one realizes that the person making motzi
has forgotten to salt the bread, but one should not say "Hey, I think you forgot to put salt on that" and one certainly should not say "So, how 'bout those Red Sox?") This is to ensure that the two actions remain linked in our minds; if our concentration is interrupted (hefsek hada'at
) then the handwashing is null and void and must be repeated.
But I think this would also cover the (unfortunately common) practice that some have of using hand, head, and eye gestures (while ostentatiously not talking aloud) to humorous effect while waiting for the others present to finish their washing and return to the table.I'd like to dedicate this word of Torah in memory of my grandmother, Raizl bat Aryeh Leb v'Channa, a"h, on this, her third Jahrzeit. May her memory be a blessing.