Modesty

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Modesty-Covering the body: [1]

One is to practice the laws of modesty even in a bathroom. Therefore one is not to uncover more flesh than necessary. Likewise one may only reveal his flesh at the time that is needed and not before hand, for even a moment.[2] Thus one is not to reveal himself until he sits.[3] [Likewise he is to cover himself prior to standing.[4]]

How much of the body may one reveal?[5]  A man is only to reveal himself one Tefach from behind and two Tefach from the front[6], due to the laws of modesty.[7] [If possible he is to only reveal one Tefach even from the front.[8]] A woman is not to reveal herself at all from the front, and from the back she is not to reveal more than one Tefach.[9] These laws apply even at night.[10] [Today many are lenient regarding these laws being the bathrooms all have walls and are private.[11] Nevertheless practically even in today’s bathrooms one is to cover himself as much as possible and only the amount necessary for one to do his needs, and avoid dirtying himself, should be uncovered.[12]]

 

Summary:

One is to cover himself as much as possible when using the bathroom. Only the amount necessary for one to do his needs and avoid dirtying himself should be uncovered.

 

Q&A

May one get undressed in a bathroom without covering himself?

Yes.  

 

Sparks of Kabala

One who is careful in being modest and covering himself in a bathroom is saved from damaging and deadly spirits and this lengthens the days of man.[13]


[1] Based on Basra 3/1; Kama 3/2 and 6; Siddur

[2] Basra 3/1; Siddur

[3] Basra 3/1; Kama 3/2; Siddur

[4] Kaf Hachaim 3/10

[5] Kama 3/6; Basra 3/1; Siddur

Background:

The Gemara Brachos 23a writes that one is to reveal himself one Tefach from one side and two Tefachim from another side. There are different versions amongst the Rishonim and Poskim as to which side one is to reveal one Tefach and which side one is to reveal two Tefachim. [The current version of our Gemara reads two Tefachim from the front and one Tefach from the back, as is clear from Rashi] The Beis Yosef on Tur and in Shulchan Aruch 3/4 rules that in front one reveals up to two Tefachim and in back up to one Tefach. So rules Admur in Kama 3/6 and Siddur and so conclude many Poskim. [Yad Aaron; Mateh Yosef 3/6; Mamar Mordechai 3/1; Peri Megadim 3 M”Z 2; Kaf Hachaim 3/11; M”B 3/6] However the Bach brings many Rishonim who argue and rule that the correct version is to read one Tefach from the front and two from the back. The Bach concludes that this is the more logical approach being that one is able to see his front area and guard himself from getting dirty. Admur in Basra 3/1 brings also the opinion of the Bach and concludes to suspect for his opinion.

[6] This applies even if one only needs to make a bowel movement and does not need to urinate, as the pressure of defecation causes urine to flow. [Kama ibid] Yifei Laleiv learns that the above limitation is only when one is defecating however when merely urinating there is no need to be modest. [Kaf Hachaim 3/2] However the Peri Megadim 3 M”Z 2 rules it applies even when simply urinating and so is implied from all Poskim. See Shaareiy Tziyon 3/10 which is even more stringent when just urinating.

[7] Siddur; Kama ibid; First opinion in Basra ibid; Ruling of Ketzos Hashulchan 4/2

The reason: One needs to reveal more of his body when urinating being that the stream goes to a further distance. [Kama ibid; Basra ibid; Rashi Brachos 23b; Seemingly this prevents his clothing from becoming dirty. Vetzaruch Iyun. See Shaareiy Tziyon 3/10 that this refers to when one is urinating in a sitting position.]

[8] Based on Basra ibid; In Kama and Siddur this opinion is not mentioned. The Ketzos Hashulchan 4/2 rules like the Siddur and does not suspect at all for this opinion. Vetzaruch Iyun if we follow the Siddur verses the Basra, as it is unclear which version was written last.

Background:

In Basra 3/1 Admur writes:A man is only to reveal himself one Tefach from behind and two Tefachim from the front. However there are those which say the opposite [that in front one reveals one Tefach and in back two Tefachim]. Practically, one should cover himself as much as possible [on both sides]”.

[9] Kama 3/6; first opinion in Basra 3/1; Siddur does not mention women

Second opinion in Basra 3/1: In Basra Admur writes: “A woman is not to reveal herself at all from the front, and from the back she is not to reveal more than one Tefach or two, depending on the two opinions brought above. Practically she should reveal herself as little as possible.”

[10] Basra 3/4; Kama 3/18

[11] Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeitzei 5; Kaf Hachaim 3/13; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 3/2 regarding the differences in today’s bathrooms and forms of dress.

[12] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 3/2; Thus when a man urinates standing he should not even reveal a Tefach worth being this is no longer necessary. [ibid; Shaareiy Tziyon 3/10]

[13] Kaf Hachaim 3/2 in name of Yifei Laleiv 1/2

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