I've been going through the Mishna Berura on saying shma in restrooms (מ״ב סימנים פ״א-פ״ז so far) and I'm rather curious what the halacha is relating to modern restrooms. (This question only discussed restrooms generally). The entire discussion seems to revolve around (a) odor and (b) the visible presence of feces. For this question please assume there is no odor in the room, as that significantly simplifies things.

Lets break this into two use cases:

  • Residential restrooms – Modern restrooms with indoor plumbing removes the vast majority of the feces immediately, with minimal to no residue. Additionally, nearly all residential toilets come with a cover that can immediately cover up any remaining feces.
  • Public restrooms (the clean ones) – The actual toilets are in their own cubicles and use high-powered flushing mechanisms to remove nearly all waste, again with minimal to no residue.

MB פ״ז:א:א-ו discusses whether one can say shma near a chamber pot (I believe) and seems to suggest (פ״ז:א:א) that the only issue is the smell. The Shulchan Aruch in פז:ב suggests that "yesh osrim v'yesh matirim v'halacha k'divrei ha osrim", but the MB mainly points out (פ״ז:ב:ח) that the smell is the issue. For public restrooms, there's a discussion which I didn't entirely follow in the following se'if on cubicles, which seems to hinge on whether they reach the ground, which may make entire classes of restrooms OK for saying a brocho when near the sinks...? This is particularly relevant for people using the restrooms for something other than relieving oneself (e.g., taking drink of water, only washing netilas yadayim, etc).

Curious to hear what modern poskim have suggested about this.

  • Rabbi Y.P. Feinhandler told me he was of the opinion that if a room only has a toilet in it then the room has a halacha of a toilet, however if you have a bathroom with a toilet, sink and bath then the room does not have the halacha of a toilet.
    – The GRAPKE
    Apr 21, 2021 at 13:12
  • Modern restrooms with indoor plumbing removes the vast majority of the feces immediately. Not really I think the old trains which poskim do talk about somewhere went straight onto the track.
    – interested
    Apr 21, 2021 at 13:32
  • 2
    @eykanal Thanks for writing up the question in such a clear, well-informed manner! This is a valuable dupe.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 21, 2021 at 14:19


Browse other questions tagged .