Privacy in bathroom

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Privacy when relieving oneself in a bathroom: [1]

A. Being alone and closing the door:[2]

Two people are not to enter into the bathroom together [as doing so is not modest[3]]. Rather one should enter the bathroom alone and close [and lock[4]] the door to the bathroom [in order so no one enter it[5]]. This applies even at night.[6]

One who is scared to be alone:[7] If one is afraid to remain alone in the bathroom [he is nevertheless not to allow another person to enter the bathroom] and is rather to have a person place their hand over his head through a window. One is however not to speak to this person as will be explained next.

 

B.Women:[8]

It is permitted, and even encouraged, for women to enter into a [non-gendered[9]] public bathroom together at one time. It is likewise permitted for them to talk in this bathroom. [However by a private bathroom all the above laws apply equally to women.[10] Furthermore, it seems that by a public bathroom designated only for women, as is common standard in all public areas of the modern times, the requirement for privacy and prohibition of speech would apply.[11]]

 

Q&A

May children enter a bathroom together and should they be educated in the above laws of privacy?[12]

Children are to be educated to follow the above privacy laws. This applies even to children that are below the age of education. Hence they should not enter the bathroom together, and are not to talk in a bathroom. Likewise a woman should not use the bathroom together with her nursing child.[13]

 

Q&A on Privacy

Must one urinate in private with a closed door?[14]
From the letter of the law there is no need to be particular about urinating in private with a closed door.[15] Practically however when one is able to urinate in private, in closed doors, he should do so. Thus those that build bathrooms with urinals should place a ledge between the urinals for privacy purposes.

 

May one leave the door open in a time of need?[16]

In a time of need, such as the bathroom has a very bad stench, one can leave the door slightly open so long as it is dark and he is not able to be seen.

 

If a child is scared to go to the bathroom himself, may one enter with him?

One should try to calm the child down in other ways, such as to slightly open the bathroom door and the like. If necessary one may escort the child to the bathroom.[17]

 

May one enter the bathroom with his child in order to help the child?

Yes.[18]

 

May one who is going to the bathroom bring a child to the bathroom with him?

One is to avoid doing so as explained in the first Q&A!

 


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

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

[3] Kama 3/2

[4] Chesed Lealafim 3/5

[5] Basra 3/2; Kama 3/2 writes “due to modesty”.

[6] Basra 3/4; Kama 3/18; Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeitzei 4

[7] Basra 3/2; Kama 3/2  based on Gemara Brachos 62a

[8] Basra 3/2l; M”A 3/2;  See Even Haezer 22/13

Background:

The Sages instituted that when women go to a public bathroom, such as the public field bathrooms of previous times or public Shul bathrooms, they should enter two at a time or even more, and that they should talk to each other there. The reason for this is in order so the men outside hear the women’s voices and thus not enter the bathroom and transgress the prohibition of Yichud. [ibid] This ruling of Admur is based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 19a and Michaber Even Haezer 22/13. However the Rama ibid, as well as M”A ibid, limit this allowance only to field bathrooms, while by city bathrooms it would not apply. Admur however clearly rules that it applies likewise to city bathrooms.  

[9] Commonly referred to as a unisex bathroom which can be used by both men and women. See next footnote.

[10] See Kaf Hachaim 3/4 and 5 that women are not to enter together into the bathroom. This is unlike the Peri Megadim 3 A”A 2 which learns this restriction does not apply to women.

[11] The above Halacha [see background] implies that the bathrooms in discussion were not gender segregated and hence if not for the women talking, there was possibility of Yichud occurring. [To note that gender segregated bathrooms did not exist in previous times and is a relatively new occurrence. For example in the capital building, Washington D.C., one can see that there only existed one bathroom as of 1900, and only later was a women’s bathroom also installed] Thus today that most public bathrooms are gender segregated seemingly this allowance would no longer apply, as there is no reason a man would enter due to it being socially inacceptable. This is similar to the ruling of the Rama [Even Haezer 22/13] and M”A [3/2] that in city bathrooms this law no longer applies, and hence concludes the Rama that the law is no longer applicable today.

[12] Chesed Lealafim brought in Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeitzei 6; Kaf Hachaim 3/4

[13] See Admur Basra 3/5; Kama 3/19

[14] Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 3/47; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 3 footnote 22

[15] Basra 3/5; Kama 3/18; See however Kama 3/19 and Basra 3/5 that one is to go to the side, and hence some laws of privacy are applicable even when urinating.

[16] Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeitzei 4

[17] In Basra 3/2 Admur writes that if a person is scared one should place his hand on their head through a window, however he may not enter the bathroom. Seemingly there is no difference between a child and an adult as explained in the first Q&A, and hence when possible the child should be calmed in other methods. Nevertheless being that the fear of a child can be dangerous for him, [as brought in 328/15 that if a child is locked in a room one may break it down on Shabbos because he may get scared which can be dangerous] one may certainly be lenient when necessary to enter with the child in order to calm him.

[18] This does not pose a modesty prohibition as doing so is necessary. This is similar to the allowance to be undressed in a bathhouse due to lack of choice.

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