- Question: [Monday, 17th Iyar 5783]
When I’m traveling alone and need to use the bathroom by an airport I would like to know what I should do regarding my Tefillin? Should I delay going to the bathroom until I find a Jew who can watch it for me? Should I leave it outside the bathroom and take a chance of someone taking it? Should I bring it with me into the bathroom, and if so must it be doubly covered?
It is permitted for one to bring his tefillin with him into the bathroom that is inside of an airport if they are in his backpack, or suitcase, or plastic bag and the like. One should certainly not leave his Tefillin or suitcase outside the bathroom without supervision, and is also not required to wait until he meets a Jew to guard it for him, and it is also not recommended to push off one’s needs for this purpose. Rather, he should follow the letter of the law and bring the covered tefillin with him into the bathroom as stated above.
Explanation: Although in general it is forbidden to bring Tefillin into a bathroom even if they are covered, this refers only to a private bathroom, however, based on the Talmud and Poskim, one may enter Tefillin into a public bathroom if the Tefillin are covered even with a single covering if it is not designated for the Tefillin or if it contains a Tefach. The reason for this differentiation between a private and public bathroom is because by a public bathroom there is chance of it getting stolen if one were to leave it outside, in contrast to a private bathroom in which this worry does not apply. Furthermore, according to some opinions it is permitted to bring Tefillin even into a private bathroom if they are doubly covered. By a public bathroom, however, a double covering is not necessary. Based on all this it is understood that it is permitted for one to bring his tefillin with him into the bathroom that is inside of an airport if they are in his backpack, or suitcase, and hence have a single covering that is not designated for the Tefillin and certainly if they are in a double covering.
Sources: See regarding entering tefillin into a public versus private bathroom: Admur 43:4-5; Michaber 43:7; Rambam Tefillin 4:19; Sefer Hateruma; Brachos 23a See regarding if the tefillin is in a double covering: Lenient: 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; Piskeiy Teshuvos 43:3 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; Stringent: 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. 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.