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Is it permissible to say a prayer in a restroom (or bathhouse), assuming one does not use a name of God (including things like shalom) or a quotation from Torah? I'm thinking of things like

  • saying "thank you" (to God) or "baruch hashem" after, say, not falling in the shower when you thought you would; and
  • wishing your kid "r'fua sh'lema" after applying a Band-Aid.
Sources, please, if possible.

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Meiri (Berachos 25b) and Rashba (Teshovos 1 153) imply that only prayers that include God's name are prohibited. See also language of Shulchan Aruch (OC 4 23), based on Rashba.

One is permitted to recite vidui in a bath house provided one doesn't mention the name of God. See Taz (OC 606 5) and Pri Megadim there, Kaf HaChaim (OC 74 28).

The gemara in Berachos (24b) requires you to wait for the odor to pass before reciting a prayer which does not mention the name of God. This seems to contradict the above. However it is possible that since it only involves waiting a short amount of time it is preferable to wait.

See also Biur Halacha (588) for a discussion of performing a mitzvah in a forbidden area, with astonishing conclusions.

I heard on a tape from Rabbi Belsky that one is permitted to be "mavdil" on motzei shabbos in the bathroom without employing prayer, ie. by saying "I acknowledge that the Sabbath has departed." This also implies that an actual prayer such as Baruch Hamavdil etc. should not be said.

See also Rosh Berachos (3 22) and Madanei Yom Tov there, which further implies that prayer without Gods name should not be said in any prohibited place.

Note that any form of Torah may not be said, for the whole of Torah is God's name (Aruch HaShulchan).

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Wow, thank you! So, in other words, we do not have a clear answer: (I haven't had a chance yet to see any of thee references, but) the rule from viduy on the one hand seems to contradict B'rachos (especially with its commentaries) on the other. Well, it's knowing the issues and shitos that's important, as one should always ask his own rabbi for a final ruling in any event. –  msh210 Dec 9 '10 at 21:40
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first of all a restroom and a bathhouse have different statuses. if I remember correctly the ben ish hai forbids speaking in restrooms and thinking any davar of kedusha. harav mordechai eliahu says that if in shabat for example it is difficult for you to think in something else you can think about business while in the bathroom.

on the other end in a bathhouse (like a micve) there are some poskim that forbids greeting your friend if in his name there's shem hashem, like shalom, ovadia or eliahu, but the rav ovadia posek that in this case you could greet your friend since it's not your intention to say shem hashem

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