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 Hilchos Kriyas Shema 83 (page 230)
 מסעיף ד עד תחילת סימן פד

Respecting Divrei Kedusha
Are Home Bathrooms Considered Beis Hakiseh?
Are Bathrooms With Other Fixtures Considered Beis Hakiseh?

Respecting divrei kedusha
Regarding the Torah's phrase "u'vadavar hazeh ta'arichu yamim" (and through this your days will increase), Chazal explain that the word davar suggests dibur - speech. Someone who is particular to respect divrei kedusha will merit a long life. On the other hand, someone who disgraces kedusha is cut off, as it says: " ki devar Hashem bazah" (as he disparaged the word of Hashem, his soul shall be cut off). The Chofetz Chaim emphasizes this with a story of someone he knew of who disgraced the Torah's honor by keeping his sefarim in his bathroom. Eventually this man suffered personal disgrace when his son left the fold of Judaism.
( ביה"ל ס"ה ד"ה אין; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 28)
Are home bathrooms considered beis hakiseh?
There is a discussion among contemporary poskim as to whether or not home bathrooms, where the tzo'ah does not remain for long (and where there is not a bad smell) are considered like the beis hakiseh of old. The consensus is to be stringent about these rooms, at least to some degree. An indoor bathroom which is usually soiled is treated as a bathroom, even when it is clean. A child's potty and, according to many Acharonim, a commode are treated as bathrooms and are subject to all the rules of distancing, even when clean.
( סעיף ה, ס"ק יג, וביה"ל ד"ה בני; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 24 ו־26)
Are bathrooms with other fixtures considered beis hakiseh?
Bathrooms that serve other purposes (e.g. doing laundry) do not require distancing for divrei kedusha if they do not smell bad. According to some poskim, even other common fixtures (e.g. sinks) are enough to diminish their status as bathrooms. Nevertheless, one should avoid reciting divrei kedusha in such rooms. A movable chair that is primarily for sitting but can double as a commode, if it is kept clean, is viewed as a chair and does not require distancing.
( ס"ק יג וביה"ל ד"ה בני וד"ה אין; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 15)

  • An area designated through word or deed as a bathroom is considered unclean. It is considered a disgrace to the Torah to discuss it in such a place.
  • A bathroom's outer walls are treated as part of the bathroom with regard to divrei kedusha; since they were built specifically to house tzo'ah, they become like a graf shel rei'i.
  • Home bathrooms where the tzo'ah does not remain for long may not qualify as bathrooms.

  • The different rooms of the bathhouse

  • The modern bathroom

  • Addressing people with Shalom




PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.