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It recently came up in a discussion with a friend about the halachos that say that you have to take care only to expose minimal parts of your body while going to the bathroom. Personally, I was always mystified by this and just put it out of my mind, but now I'd like to ask about it.

Do people actually do this, or do most people just go to the bathroom in the normal way? Are there any tshuvas about this, one way or the other?

It's just hard for my to fathom people I know doing this... I find the whole thing quite disturbing.

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Good question! I'm sure a lot of people have wondered about this. –  Shalom Jan 13 '11 at 14:24
    
their bathrooms were less private then, so that might make a difference.. –  Ariel K Oct 24 '13 at 2:18
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6 Answers

Hazal are telling us that this is the proper way to go to the bathroom. The term "normal way" implies the norm and the norm of the world is to follow the dictates of the body which easily lead one to following the dictates of the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination). As Barry stated in his comment on msh210's answer, the idea is to not uncover one's self more than necessary. Is it really necessary to have your pants at your ankles when using the porcelain throne?

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I don't recall the source (and may be misquoting it anyway), but I've heard that it is permissible to uncover oneself more than minimally in a bes hamerchatz (bathhouse) and that any bathroom that has a shower counts as such. As always, CYLOR for a practical ruling.

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Doesn't sound right. The idea of the halachah is that one doesn't uncover oneself more than necessary. It isn't the bathhouse that permits the state of undress but rather the need to bathe. Thus having a shower in the bathroom shouldn't matter, if one doesn't intend to shower. –  Barry Jan 13 '11 at 19:26
    
I agree with you that it doesn't sound right. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure that's what I've heard. One is also not supposed to reveal himself when changing clothes AFAIK (again, CYLOR), but, again, I've heard (and again, CYLOR) he may do so in a room with a shower. –  msh210 Jan 13 '11 at 21:25
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Yeah, I also heard about getting undressed under the covers... also very disturbing to me. –  Desert Star Jan 14 '11 at 4:17
    
This brings up another question about swimming, which I will ask separately –  Desert Star Jan 16 '11 at 0:32
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@Barry, @msh210, I don't see why you would say "it doesn't sound right"... there are many examples of rabinnic decrees which were made with certain exceptions that go beyond the absolute minimum that it would logically be necessary. The rabbis made an exception for the "place" of the bathroom, it is easier to understand and apply than a stricter version that would make it only when you "need to bathe" and they did not consider the extra strictness necessary. –  Desert Star Jan 25 '11 at 13:58
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Why is it so Unfathomable instead of pants down to your ankles you pull it up again so you are not exposed pretty simple actually

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This doesn't seem to answer the question. –  Monica Cellio Oct 23 '13 at 19:04
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Who said that a man cannot touch his member? As far as I know, the issur is to hold the member (and not just touch it - smae for muktzeh, one can touch it but not move it), and that is only if the man is not married or if his wife is Niddah. If his wife is "available", his is allowed to hold his member when he needs to urinate.

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Ben, Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks very much for this answer! You could make it more valuable by citing your source. We'd love to have you as a fully-registered member (no pun intended), which you can accomplish by clicking on register/login, above. –  Isaac Moses Mar 25 '11 at 13:33
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+1 for "no pun intended" –  Desert Star Apr 11 '11 at 12:51
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I once asked a rav about these halachos and he said it's a midat chasidut.

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Doesn't it seem that since one cannot touch his member, he would need to pull his pants down and expose himself much more than the average person, who can use his zipper? How do you reconcile these two opposed requirements? So to answer the question, I think the halacha actually requires a greater level of undress than most people.

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Do people usually just use their zipper without unbuttoning the waistband of their pants? I ask in all seriousness; that sounds terribly uncomfortable anyway. –  Alex Jan 14 '11 at 17:39
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Not touching member... another disturbing halacha –  Desert Star Jan 16 '11 at 0:26
    
@Alex, yeah, that's the idea of the zipper –  Desert Star Aug 6 '12 at 19:29
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