From the Rav’s Desk: Learning Torah and saying blessings during bathroom construction


  1. Question: [Monday 25th Adar 2, 5782]

I will be working several days constructing a bathroom unit [i.e. toilet, bathtub, shower] in a home. Now, I usually try to listen to Shiurim on my headphones while I work, and would like to know if I can do so while I construct the bathroom. Also, am I allowed to say a blessing over a drink while working there?


It is permitted for you to listen to a Torah lesson on your headphones while constructing the bathroom, so long as the bathroom has never yet been used even once before. Once the bathroom has been used even once, then it has the full status of any other bathroom which even thinking words of Torah is forbidden, and hence you may no longer listen to a Torah Shiur, even if you are still in the midst of its construction. All the above, however, is regarding listening to a Shiur on your headphones, however, to actually recite words of Torah, or say blessing, is forbidden even during the construction phase. Thus, if you would like to say a blessing over a drink, Or talk about a Torah subject to a friend who is there, you must step out of the bathroom area.

Explanation: It is Biblically forbidden for one to study Torah or pray or say a blessing inside of a bathroom or bathhouse, as that or requires that one’s camp [which refers to one’s area of prayer and Torah study] remain holy. However, if the bathroom or bathhouse is new and has yet to be used, then there is no biblical prohibition involved in doing so. Nonetheless, there is a rabbinical prohibition involved in verbalizing words of Torah or prayer even in a new bathroom that has never yet been used, being that since it has become designated for a purpose of filth it is therefore unbefitting to study Torah or pray to Hashem while there, even prior to it having become filthy for its first time. This applies throughout the entire parameter of the bathroom, within its walls, and applies even prior to the walls actually having been set up. Nonetheless, most Achronim conclude that it remains permitted to think words of Torah while there, until the bathroom is used even one time. However, by a new bathhouse, it remains even rabbinically permitted to verbalize words of Torah and prayer, until it is used for its first time, being that it’s filth is not as much as that of a bathroom.

Based on the above, it is understood that it is permitted to listen to a Torah shiur on one’s headphones during the construction, until the bathroom is used one time, as listening to a recording is similar to thinking words of Torah and does not fulfill the obligation of Talmud Torah Bedibur.

Sources: See regarding the prohibition of learning Torah and praying in a new bathroom: Admur 83:2; 84:1; Michaber 83:2; Question of Ravina in Brachos 25a; Shabbos 10a-b; Rambam Kerias Shema 3:4; Rosh Brachos 3:57; Se Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 83:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 83:3  See regarding that this prohibition applies within the entire parameter of the bathroom even prior to the walls being built: M”A 83:83:2; Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Levushei Serud ibid; P”M 83 A”A 2; M”B 83:9; Kaf Hachaim 83:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 83:3 footnote 11; See regarding the allowance of thinking Torah in a new bathroom: Beir Heiytiv 83:2; Elya Raba 83; Ataz 83:3; P”M 83 M”Z 3; M”B 83:9; Kaf Hachaim 83:8; Piskeiy Teshuvos 83:3; However see Kesef Mishneh 3:4 who is stringent; See regarding the allowance of learning Torah and praying in a new bathhouse: Admur 84:1; Michaber 84:1; Shabbos 10a-b; See regarding that a new bathroom Halachically becomes defined as old if used even one time: Admur 83:1; M”B 83:6; Biur Halacha 83:1; Vetzaruch Iyun if used one time only for urinating, and the implication is that it does not; See regarding that hearing Torah from a tape recorder does not fulfill the obligation of Talmud Torah Bedibur: Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:12; Machazik Bracha 47:4; Zekan Ahron 60; Halef Lecha Shlomo 35; See Sdei Chemed Asifas Dinim Mareches Rosh Hashanah 2:19; Halichos Shlomo 6:5;

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