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 Hilchos Kriyas Shema 84 (page 231)
 מתחילת סימן פד עד תחילת סימן פה

The Different Chambers of the Bathhouse
The Modern Bathroom
Addressing People with Shalom

The different chambers of the bathhouse
Ancient bathhouses were designed with three chambers: an outer room where everybody was dressed, a middle room where people dressed and undressed, and an inner room for bathing where everyone was undressed. Devarim sh'bekedusha and Torah are forbidden in the middle room, but Torah thoughts are permitted there. The poskim discuss whether one can be lenient in this room if everyone there is dressed and the room is clean.  In the innermost chamber where [almost] everyone is undressed, it is forbidden to think Torah thoughts, even if everyone is dressed and the room is clean. In the outer room, everything is permitted.
( סעיף א, ס"ק ג-ד, וביה"ל ד"ה ובישן וד"ה ובפנימי)
The modern bathroom
It is permissible to think Torah thoughts in a shower room that is clean. Hirhur is permitted even while bathing because it is permissible to think about Torah when the body is undressed. The poskim discuss whether it is permitted to speak Torah while dressed in such a room. According to some poskim, if the room serves a dual purpose (e.g. laundry), there is no ruach ra and it is permissible to wash one's hands in there [and then dry them and recite the beracha outside]. Other poskim only permit this in times of need.
( ס"ק ד, ה ו־ז; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 6, 7 ו־17)
Addressing people with Shalom
Shalom is one of Hashem's names (see Shoftim 6:24) and may not be pronounced in a bathroom or any other place where divrei kedusha are forbidden. It may also not be said with an uncovered head. There is an opinion which forbids saying Shalom to someone with an uncovered head if it is likely that he will respond in kind. It is appropriate not to call someone whose name is Shalom from a place where the word should not be said. It is also proper not to write the word out in full on mundane papers (e.g. friendly letters) that will eventually be discarded. The word shalom may be erased.
( סעיף א וס"ק ו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 9-10)

  • Regarding the Torah's phrase "u'vadavar hazeh ta'arichu yamim" (and through this your days will increase), Chazal explained that the word davar suggests dibur-speech. Someone who is particular to respect divrei kedusha will merit a long life.
  • 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.
  • Bathrooms that serve other purposes (e.g. sinks, laundry rooms) do not require distancing for divrei kedusha if they do not smell bad.

  • What to do when it is forbidden to think about Torah

  • Speaking divrei Torah in other languages

  • Entering a bathroom in the midst of learning Torah




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.