- Question: [Monday, 28th Iyar 5781]
Dear Rabbi, I would like to know if it is permitted for one to leave his mikvah towel in shul. I personally find it very disrespectful to leave a towel that was used to dry all parts of the body in middle of the sanctuary hanging on a seat or a table which everyone in the shul has to see. I know for certain in my home that I would not allow people to hang their bath towels on the dining room chairs and why should a shul be any less different in terms of its respect?
You’re absolutely correct, that mikvah towels should not be placed in a shul, by the main sanctuary where people pray and doing so is disrespectful to the shul and to the people who pray there. There is an absolute halachic obligation to respect a shul and not every matter of disrespect must be explicitly written in the Poskim, and anything that people view as demeaning or as lack of proper respect may not be done in a Shul. The Talmud Yerushalmi states that Rebbe Yochanon would curse the woman who would spread their towels to dry in the “air” [i.e. courtyard?] of a shul and hence certainly one is to avoid spreading it inside the shul itself where people Daven. Indeed, the Rebbe publicly spoke about this issue of having dirty towels in a shul and how at the very least one must treat a shul to the same degree of respect that he would treat his own home. The Rebbe emphasized that this is the job of the Gabaim to speak about and enforce. People who don’t have a choice and need to enter their towel into the shul so it doesn’t get lost, should at the very least keep it inside of a bag in a way that it will not be seen, and should not drape it on a table or chair.
Sources: See Mishneh Megillah 28a; Yerushalmi Megillah 3:3 3:3; Hiskashrus 29 Nitzutzei Rebbe p. 15; Toras Menachem 5728 28th Elul Vol. 53 p. 466; Mishnas Yosef [Leiberman] Beis Hakenses 26:6