Question: [Wednesday, 24th Mar Cheshvan, 5781]
Is it permitted for one to pray or learn Torah next to a child’s potty? When we travel, we usually bring it with us and place it behind the backseat in the trunk of our SUV. Is it permitted for us to talk words of Torah, listen to a Torah lesson, read Tehillim and the like when it’s there?
The answer to your question depends on the material that the potty is made from, as well as its positioning in the car. The general consensus amongst the Poskim that if it’s made of plastic it’s not an issue, and so long as it is clean you may pray and learn Torah even if you’re right next to it. Even if one were to be stringent, or if it were to be made of wood or earthenware, it would nonetheless remain valid to pray and learn Torah when it is placed in the back of an SUV behind the backseats, if the backseats go from “wall-to-wall” of the car, as is usually the case, and the back seat is not elevated 24 cm or more from the floor of the car. In all cases, if you want to play it safe, placing it in a plastic bag suffices to escape any issue.
Sources: For the general issue of davening or learning next to a potty see: Admur 87:1-2 and 4; Regarding a plastic potty see: Chelkas Yaakov 2:163; Igros Moshe 1:27; Minchas Yitzchak 3:67; Bear Moshe 4:7 Piskeiy Teshuvah 87:1
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