Sefarim in bathroom

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May one enter Sefarim into a bathroom? [1]

It is forbidden to enter revealed Sefarim or Tefillin into a bathroom due to it being a belittlement to the Sefarim. If the Sefarim are covered then at times it is allowed to enter the Sefer into the bathroom. This depends on whether the bathroom is a private bathroom or public, and as to whether they are covered with one covering or two.

It is forbidden to enter revealed Sefarim, or any books that contain words of Torah, into a bathroom.[2] It is proper to be stringent even if one does not desire to currently do his needs in the bathroom.[3]

If the Sefer is covered: It is forbidden to enter Sefarim into a private bathroom[4] even if they are covered.[5] [Regarding if the Sefer is in two coverings see Q&A!] It is permitted to enter with a Sefer into a public bathroom[6] even if the Sefer only has one covering.[7] However the covering is only valid if it is not designated for the Sefarim or contains a Tefach.[8] It does not suffice to merely wrap the Sefer within clothing that he is wearing and hold it in his hand.[9]

Tefillin:[10] One may not enter Tefillin into a private bathroom even if they are covered.[11] [Some rule that this applies even if the Tefillin is within two coverings.[12]] One may enter Tefillin into a public bathroom if the Tefillin are covered even with a single covering.[13] However the covering is only valid if it is not designated for the Tefillin or if it contains a Tefach.[14] In certain cases, covering the Tefillin within the clothing that he is wearing is valid.[15] It is proper to be stringent not to enter into a bathroom with Tefillin that are not properly covered even if one does not desire to currently do his needs in the bathroom.[16]

Entering a Sefer Torah to a bathroom:[17] It is forbidden to enter a Sefer Torah into a bathroom. This applies even to a public bathroom, and even if the Torah scroll is properly covered.[18]

May one wear Tefillin, or have revealed Torah books or Tefillin near excrement?[19] It is forbidden to have Tefillin or Torah books revealed near[20] excrement unless they are on a table higher than ten Tefachim from the ground. If the Tefillin or Sefarim are covered it is valid.

 

Summary:

Public bathroom: It is permitted to enter Tefillin or Sefarim into a public bathroom if they are covered by an undesignated cover, and one is doing so to guard it from being stolen.

Private bathroom: Sefarim and Tefillin may never be entered into a private bathroom even if they are covered with an undesignated covering. See Q&A regarding if they are covered within two coverings.

 

Q&A

May one enter Sefarim into a private bathroom if they are covered by two coverings?[21]

If the Sefer is within two coverings many Poskim[22] rule it is allowed to enter it into a bathroom. Others[23] however rule one may never enter Sefarim into a private bathroom, even if they are doubly covered, being that one can leave them outside the bathroom without worry of them getting stolen. Practically the custom is to be lenient if the Sefer is within two coverings.[24] According to all opinions a double covering is only valid if one of the coverings is not designated for the Sefer.[25]

 

May one enter Tefillin into a private bathroom if they are doubly covered?[26]

This matter follows the same dispute mentioned above. Practically people are accustomed to be stringent in this matter.[27]

 

May one enter a Mezuzah into a bathroom?[28]

This follows the same law as Tefillin.

 

May one enter into a bathroom with a Sefer or Siddur in his pocket?

Private bathroom: According to the stringent opinion mentioned above one may never enter Sefarim into a bathroom if he can place them outside the bathroom without fear of them getting stolen. According to the lenient opinion, and the practical custom, the law is as follows: If the Siddur or Sefer is covered also by another covering, such as it is within a plastic bag, then it is allowed according to all.[29] If the Siddur is not within a bag some Poskim[30] rule it is allowed even in such a case.[31] However according to Admur seemingly one is to be stringent[32], as rule other Poskim.[33]

Public bathroom: Is allowed.[34]

 

Are Tefillin that are within a Tefillin bag and Tallis bag considered to be within two coverings?

No. Both coverings are considered a single covering that is designated for the Tefillin and hence one may not enter the Tefillin even into a public bathroom.[35] If one places the Tefillin in an undesignated bag then it is considered a double covering.

 

Is the binding of a Sefer considered one cover?

Some Poskim[36] rule the binding of a Sefer is not considered a covering but rather is part of the actual Sefer. Other Poskim[37] are lenient to consider it a designated cover and hence if one places another cover over it, it is considered to be within two coverings.

 

By a public bathroom if one is able to give his covered Tefillin to someone else to guard must he do so?

It is implied from Admur[38] that it is better for one to enter them into the bathroom within a non-designated bag than to give it to another person to guard. However some Poskim[39] rule that in all cases it is better to give it to a friend to guard rather than enter it into the bathroom, even if it is properly covered.

 

May one enter sefarim and Tefillin into the four cubit radius of the walls of a bathroom? 

Yes one may enter Sefarim or Tefillin within the four cubits of the walls of a bathroom.[40] If however one is wearing Tefillin and he plans to use the bathroom then [if the bathroom is a mobile bathroom or a designated bathroom building[41]], one is to remove the Tefillin prior to entering within four cubits of the walls.[42] If however the bathroom shares walls with other rooms, such as the typical bathroom of a house, then one may remove the Tefillin even within the four cubits.[43]

 

May one enter secular Hebrew books into a bathroom?

Yes.[44] However there are Poskim[45] that are stringent to avoid doing so. This especially applies if the Hebrew is written in Ashuris.[46]

 

May one enter a dollar bill or American coin into the bathroom?

Items that mention the word G-d [without the dash], such as a dollar bill, or American coin, [“In G-d we trust”] are permitted to be entered into a bathroom while they are in a wallet and the like.[47]


May one enter a Jewish newspaper into the bathroom?[48]

If the newspaper does not contain Torah articles it may be entered.[49] However one is to avoid doing any undignified use with newspapers that are written in Hebrew.


[1] 43/6

[2] See Admur there that they may not be entered into a public bathroom, or field unless they are properly covered. They may never be entered into a private bathroom or field even if they are properly covered. [See Q&A regarding a double covering]

[3] Admur ibid writes as follows: Whenever one enters a bathroom without intention of using it, there are opinions which say that one may even enter revealed Tefillin and Torah books, even by a bathroom in a private area, even if the bathroom is used for both urine and feces. However others say that if the bathroom is also used for feces, then entering for no need at all receives the same laws as one who enters to do his needs. Practically one should be stringent and suspect for this latter opinion. [ibid] Vetzaruch Iyun based on the ruling of Admur in the Siddur that it is forbidden to have Sefarim revealed in face of feces, if here too he would hold it is forbidden to enter improperly covered Sefarim into a bathroom [and not just merely a proper measure].

[4] This refers to a bathroom that is within a home and one is able to leave his belongings outside without worry of them getting stolen. [43/5]

[5] 43/6 in parentheses: “(However in a bathroom that is in ones house they have the same law as Tefillin which are forbidden to be entered into it even if they are covered)”. This ruling of Admur is based on Michaber 43/7 which rules one may never enter Tefillin into the bathroom even if they are covered, and so rules Admur in 43/5. In 43/6 Admur applies this law also to Sefarim. This opinion of Admur is brought in Shaareiy Tziyon 43/17; Kaf Hachaim 43/28. So is implied to also be the opinion of the Elya Raba brought in M”B 43/25.The Kaf Hachaim ibid concludes that one is to be stringent like Admur.

The reason: As since one is able to leave the Sefarim outside the bathroom, in the house, therefore there is no allowance to enter them into the bathroom for no need. [43/5 regarding Tefillin  and Admur applies the same rule to Sefarim]

Other Poskim: There are Poskim that rule it is permitted to enter Sefarim even into a private bathroom, if they are covered with a non-designated cover. [M”B 43/25 based on Radbaz; Peri Megadim 43 A”A 14] The M”A 43/14 states it is permitted to enter covered Sefarim into a bathroom, although he does not mention if this includes even a private bathroom.

[6] This refers to a bathroom that is within a public area and one is hence unable to leave his belongings outside due to worry of them getting stolen. [43/5]

[7] Ibid based on M”A 43/14 and so rules Shesilei Zeisim 43/26; Kaf Hachaim 43/28 nevertheless the Kaf Hachaim ibid concludes that if one is able to guard the Sefarim outside the bathroom he is to be stringent even then.

The Reason: As if one were to leave it outside there is chance of it getting stolen. [43/5]

[8] 43/4; Michaber 43/6; If the Sefarim are covered by their own designated covering [i.e. a covering that was designated to be used for the Sefer] then it is nullified to the Sefer and the Sefer is considered as if it was uncovered. If however the cover has a Tefach of space then it is not nullified to the Sefer. [Admur ibid] The reason why if it has a Tefach it is valid is because it is considered like an Ohel. [M”A 43/13] Vetzaruch Iyun as to the definition of a Tefach. Does it mean a Tefach of space that is hovering over the Sefer, such as if the Sefer is in a box or does it mean that the vessel has the total space of a Tefach inside? Seemingly the former is correct and only if the bag contains a Tefach of width and a Tefach of hovering space over the Sefarim is it considered an Ohel. [see 315/17]

[9] 43/6; This allowance was only given by Tefillin. The reason why Tefillin are more lenient than other Torah books in this regard is because Tefillin are constantly with a person and thus the sages did not want to require a person to have to constantly go home to put away his Tefillin before entering a bathroom. Torah books however can initially be left at home, and therefore the sages did not feel the need to be lenient. [ibid]

[10] 43/1-6

[11] 43/5; based on Michaber 43/7 which rules one may not enter Tefillin at all into the bathroom and M”A 43/14 rules that this applies even if the Tefillin are covered.

The reason: As since one is able to leave the Tefillin outside the bathroom, in the house, therefore there is no allowance to enter them into the bathroom for no need. [43/5]

[12] See Q&A!

[13] As if one were to leave it outside there is chance of it getting stolen. [43/5]

[14] 43/4; Michaber 43/6; If the Tefillin are covered by their own designated covering [i.e. Tefillin bag] then it is nullified to the Tefillin and the Tefillin is considered as if it is uncovered. If however the cover has a Tefach of space then it is not nullified to the Tefillin. [Admur ibid] The reason why if it has a Tefach it is valid is because it is considered like an Ohel. [M”A 43/13] See previous footnotes regarding the definition of a Tefach.

[15] See 43/1-4 that this is only valid during the day, and if one is urinating it is only valid in certain positions. Likewise it is implied that if one already put on Tefillin that day and does not plan to do so afterwards then the leniency does not apply. Vetzaruch Iyun as perhaps the decree was never made during the day.

[16] Admur ibid writes as follows: Whenever one enters a bathroom without intention of using it, there are opinions which say that one may even enter revealed Tefillin, even by a bathroom in a private area, even if the bathroom is used for both urine and feces. However others say that if the bathroom is also used for feces, then entering the Tefillin for no need at all receives the same laws as one who enters to do his needs. Practically one should be stringent and suspect for this latter opinion. [ibid] Vetzaruch Iyun based on the ruling of Admur in the Siddur that it is forbidden to have Sefarim revealed in face of feces, if here too he would hold it is forbidden [and not just merely a proper measure] to enter improperly covered Tefillin into a bathroom.

[17] 43/6; Michaber Yoreh Deah 282/4

[18] See Michaber 282/8 that one may not have marital relations in front of a Torah scroll even if it is within two coverings.

[19] Siddur; not mentioned explicitly in previous Poskim. See Yoreh Deah 286/5 regarding a mezuzah; Piskeiy Teshuvos 40/4; Kinyan Torah 3/5 regarding changing diapers in front of Sefarim.

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch: In 43/3 Admur rules that from the letter of the law one may enter Sefarim and Tefillin within four Amos of feces. In 43/7 Admur rules “It is permitted to pass by feces that are in ones path while wearing Tefillin even if they are uncovered. However nevertheless it is proper (Tov) to cover ones head Tefillin with ones hat.” In 43/8 Admur rules: “Similarly a doctor may wear his revealed Tefillin while holding a urine potty. Although a Baal Nefesh should be stringent to himself.” In 315/3-4 Admur rules one may not use the bathroom in front of Sefarim unless there is a Mechitza or they are doubly covered. [so rules also M”B 40/5] Perhaps one can explain as follows: In the Shulchan Aruch Admur rules that one may not go to the bathroom in front of Sefarim although one may walk with Sefarim within four Amos of feces, although even in such a case it is best to cover them

[20] Admur does not specify whether the case here is discussing if the Sefarim are within four Amos of the feces or not.

[21] Ruling in Shulchan Aruch: The concept of entering a Sefer with a double covering into a bathroom is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch. It however is mentioned in 40/3 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Tefillin; 40/8 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Sefarim. Michaber 240/6 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Sefarim; Admur 315/5 regarding having Tashmish and doing ones needs in a room with Sefarim. In all these Halacha’s it is ruled that a double covering permits the act.

[22] Machatzis Hashekel 43/14; Elya Raba brought in M”B 43/25 and so rules M”B ibid bringing an opinion that is lenient even if it only has one undesignated covering. So concludes Piskeiy Teshuvos 43/3

Ruling of Admur: in 43/6 Admur simply writes it is forbidden to enter Sefarim into a private bathroom even if they are covered. He does not mention a difference between two coverings or a single cover. However in 315/4 Admur rules one may do his needs in front of Sefarim that contain two coverings, hence implying like the opinion of the Machatzis Hashekel that two coverings always permit the entrance of Sefarim. However perhaps one can say that case is different as we do not require one to take the items out of his room in order for him to do his needs and rather suffice with a double covering, just like we rule by Tashmish. However to initially enter the Sefarim into a bathroom perhaps Admur never agreed that it is allowed. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[23] Kaf Hachaim 43/30 based on Ateres Zikeinim 43 regarding Tefillin and seemingly the same would apply regarding Sefarim, as rules Admur 43/6 that they have the same law as Tefillin regarding a private bathroom.

[24] Heard from Harav Asher Lemel Hakohen, and so is the custom.

[25] Admur 40/3 based on Michaber 40/2

[26] Kaf Hachaim 43/30 rules that one is not to do so being that he is able to guard them outside of the bathroom and thus has no need to enter them into the bathroom. [ibid] However some write that based on the Poskim, from the letter of the law it is allowed to enter Tefillin even into a private bathroom if it is doubly wrapped. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 43/3]

Ruling in Shulchan Aruch: This concept of entering Tefillin with a double covering into a bathroom is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch. It however is mentioned in 40/3 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Tefillin; Michaber 240/6 regarding having Tashmish in a room with Sefarim; In all these Halacha’s it is ruled that a double covering permits the act.

[27] Heard from Harav Asher Lemel Hakohen.

[28] See 40/5 regarding marital relations in a room with a Mezuzah.

[29] As it is within a double covering and the lenient opinion above allows entering Sefarim into a bathroom if they are doubly covered.

[30] Shut Mahrsham 3/357; Michzei Eliyahu 1/8; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 43 footnote 13

[31] As a) Many Poskim [unlike Admur] hold that by Sifrei Kodesh one covering always suffices, b) Some Poskim [see Q&A] rule that the book cover whether hard or soft counts as a covering, [and thus according to them it is within two coverings] and c) Some Poskim hold that today’s print does not contain Kedusha. D) Some Poskim rule that all pockets are considered a double covering. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 43 footnote 13]

[32] As he rules that one may not enter Sefarim with a single covering into a private bathroom, and thus the first reason mentioned above in the allowance of the lenient Poskim does not apply. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid that perhaps in this case Admur would be lenient. Likewise perhaps a pocket is considered a double covering.]

[33] Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1/125

[34] As in a public bathroom only one covering is required, and the pocket serves as one covering.

[35] Admur 40/3; M”B 40/7 based on M”A 40/2; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 43

Other Opinions: Many Poskim are lenient to consider the Tefillin doubly covered. [Birkeiy Yosef 40/1; Mahrtiz 131; Shulchan Hatahor 40/1; See Kaf Hachaim 40/10; Piskeiy Teshuvos 40 footnote 47]

[36] Peri Megadim 40 A”A 2; M”B 40/4; Ohel Yosef 2 brought in Kaf Hachaim 40/14; Ashel Avraham Butchach 240 leaves this matter in doubt.

[37] Birkeiy Yosef 154 in Shiyurei Bracha; Chesed Lealafim 240/8; Kaf Hachaim 40/14 rules to be lenient by all printed Sefarim of today; Taharas Yisrael 240/56

[38] In 43/3 Admur states: Whenever the Tefillin is wrapped in a way that is permitted to enter with it into the bathroom, then it is praiseworthy for one to do so rather than give it to a friend to guard, being that the Tefillin guard him from evil spirits as well as that it’s a mitzvah for the person to guard his Tefillin himself. [ibid] This implies that in any area where there is suspicion of the Tefillin getting stolen [even if there is no evil spirit] it is better for one to enter them with him, in a non designated bag, into the bathroom, than to give them to someone else to guard.

[39] Kaf Hachaim 43/30 based on Ateres Zikeinim 43; The Ateres Zikeinim rules [using an implication from the Michaber] that even in public areas, if there is someone else that is able to guard it, it is better to give it to someone else.

[40] As there is no prohibition in having holy objects enter within four cubits of even feces itself. [43/3] Hence this allowance applies by all bathrooms, even bathrooms that have their own walls such as mobile bathrooms. However Tzaruch Iyun as in Siddur Admur rules that one may not have revealed Sefarim near feces, and this is seemingly a retracting of his ruling in 43/3 and 7. Hence according to the Siddur seemingly it would be forbidden to enter Sefarim within four Tefach of the walls of a mobile bathroom being that such walls are considered feces. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[41] Based on 83/1

[42] 43/3 as since one is anyways required to remove the Tefillin before entering the bathroom, we therefore require him to already remove it within four Amos of the bathroom, being the walls of a bathroom are themselves considered like feces. [ibid] However this only applies by a bathroom that has individual walls, as only in such a case are its walls defined as feces. If however they share their wall with other rooms then its walls do not have a status of feces, and hence it is permitted to remove the Tefillin within four cubits, as explained in 83/1.

[43] As rules Admur in 83/1 regarding prayer near these walls. [and so rules Piskeiy Teshuvah 43/2] Vetzaruch Iyun why no mention of this is made here.

[44] Sheilas Yaavetz 1/10; Vayivarech David; Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2/77

[45] Chacham Tzevi brought in Sheilas Yaavetz ibid

[46] Rama Yoreh Deah 284/2 rules one may not write mundane matters in Ashuris. However the custom is to be lenient. [See Aruch Hashulchan 283/13; 284/8; Tzur Yaakov 82; Rav Poalim 4/32; Sheilas Shlomo 2/93; Hisvadyos 1989 3/101] Igros Moshe ibid and Piskeiy Teshuvos 154/15 rule that from the letter of the law it may be entered, although there are those that are stringent.

What is Ashuris? Ashuris refers to square letters used to write a Sefer Torah. Regarding if our print is considered Ashuris-see Hisvadyos 1989 3/101 that it is not actual Ashuris but is similar to Ashuris and that is why many Sefarim were printed in Ksav Rashi.

[47] As it is considered to be within a double covering. Seemingly one may also be lenient to enter them in his pocket and the like, however to remove the dollar bill in a bathroom seemingly is forbidden due to it being a belittlement to the name. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 154/18 which rules G-d’s name in English requires two coverings to enter a bathroom. However See Halichos Shlomo 20 footnote 33; Piskeiy Teshuvos 154 footnote 99  that allows entering dollar bills into the bathroom based on Shach 179/11 that regarding names in foreign languages “when it is not possible to avoid one may be lenient”.  Vetzaruch Iyun as it is for this reason that we are particular to write  G-d with a dash in order so it not end up in filthy places [see Kitzur SHU”A 6/3; Ketzos Hashulchan 5/41; Nesivos Hamishpat Choshen Mishpat 27/2; Smeh; Aruch Hashulchan Choshen Mishpat 27/3 in name of many Gedolei Yisrael; Igros Kodesh 23/36; 7/26; 9/62] hence how can one be lenient here if the item is not doubly covered.     

[48] Piskeiy Teshuvos 154/15

[49] See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid that even if some articles contain a verse or two from Torah it is still allowed to be entered as its main idea is news.

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