Bathroom in shul

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May one go to the bathroom facing a Shul or Beis Midrash? [1]

It is forbidden to urinate or defecate facing a Shul or Beis Midrash if one is doing so in the open. When one is in a bathroom one may face any direction.


May one build a bathroom facing a Shul?[2]

One is not to build a bathroom in way that the back of the person faces the Shul.[3] If however there is a wall that intervenes between the wall of the bathroom and the wall of the Shul, it is valid.[4]


May one turn an area in a Shul into a bathroom?[5]

No. This applies even to the Ezras Nashim.[6]


Laws involved in building a bathroom by a Shul:[7]

  • One is to avoid positioning the toilet in a way that one’s back faces the Shul, as explained above.
  • One must avoid attaching the toilet to the wall of the actual sanctuary.[8]
  • There is no prohibition in having the bathroom share the same wall as the sanctuary.[9] However some[10] write that one should initially build the walls for the bathroom in a way that it does not share any of its walls with the walls of the inner sanctuary.

[1] M”B 3/14

[2] M”B 3/14; Kaneh Bosem 2/1

[3] Sefer Chassidim 814 brought in Elya Raba; Rav Akiva Eiger; Meaning that one is to avoid positioning the toilet in a way that when one defecates his back faces the Shul.

[4] M”B ibid; Hence seemingly this law only applies to a bathroom unit built in the Shul courtyard, as was common back then, and not to a typical building bathroom.

[5] Michaber 153/9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 153/18; Tzitz Eliezer 12/14; Cheishev Haeifod 3/42

[6] Regarding the Kedusha of an Ezras Nashim see: Peri Megadim 151 A”A 1; Rosh Yosef Megila 28a which rules it has holiness; See also Ashel Avraham Butchach 151; Shoel Umeishiv 2/22; Beis Yitzchak 2 Kuntrus Achron 1/4; Beis Shlomo 1/28; Avnei Nezer 33; Aruch Hashulchan 154/7; Maharash Engel 3/88; Mahrsham 1/10; Teshuras Shay 545; Arugas Bosem 27; Imrei Yosher 2/12; Beis Yisrael 24; Tzur Yaakov 152; Minchas Yitzchak 7/8; Sheivet Halevy 5/21; Tzitz Eliezer ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 151/1. Some of these Poskim rule that the Ezras Nashim has the holiness of a Shul. Others rule it contains holiness, but to a lesser degree than the men’s section.

Other Opinions: The Chochmas Adam 86/15 rules the Ezras Nashim does not have Kedusha. So also leans to rule Yad Halevy 2/3. Many of the above Poskim negate his opinion. See Tzitz Eliezer ibid.

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch: See Admur 619/18 which mentions the Ezras Nashim as “Beis Hakeneses Shel Nashim”. Furthermore from that Halacha it is proven that it has at least a lower level of holiness than the men’s section. Nevertheless one cannot prove from there that it has no holiness at all.

[7] See Kaneh Bosem 2/2; M”B 3/14; Piskeiy Teshuvos 3/6

[8] Shieilas Yaavetz 2/54; Piskeiy Teshuvos 151/32; Meaning the toilet is not to be attached to any of the walls which surround the actual Shul auditorium where the prayers are held. However it may be attached to any other wall of the Shul building.

[9] Kaneh Bosem ibid

[10] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid and 151/32

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