Similar Halachos of the bathroom

In the 3rd siman of the Shulchan Aruch is understood (by me) you should keep your body covered as much as possible, for example when a man goes to the bathroom (for number 2) he should uncover (acording to one version of the Braisa) 2 tefochim in the front (so that he will not spray it with his urine) or 1 tefach (the minimum needed) And from behind (acording to the first version) 1 tefach (the minimum needed) or (acording to the second version) 2 tefochim (becouse it is harder to keep his cloths clean in the back when he does not see)

By a woman it is always 1 tafach in the back

I can not imagine what do these tefochim mean, please explain it to me, (where the legs completely open?...).

i guess it has something to do with the clothing then and the sitting position but i still can not understand it

What does it mean physicaly, to reveal a tefach, 2 tefachs, in font, from behind?

  • Beraishis 23b, gemoro
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 1:25
  • Seemingly it's 1 tefach vertically with as much width as needed. It's not a 1tefach x 1tefach area. Pull up 1 tefach above the relevant orifice. (Though one way or another you need to work out how this fits in with Niddah 26)
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 1:38
  • read carefully the Gemara Berachot 23b
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:50
  • @doubleAA if you are wearing pants it seems impossible to uncover in front without uncovering in back much more then 1 or 2 tefochim, if your are wearing something that the bottom is closer to a skirt I guess it is possible to open only a tefach, spreading your legs and being careful to leave them covered by the skirt, but how does the 2 tefochim help with the urine? Is it not enough to uncover the organ? What are you saying regarding nida 26, please specify
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 14:02
  • @kouty (thank you) I do not understand what you are hinting to
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


The bottom of the pelvis, pelvic floor, contains two orifices, the one is anterior, to urinate, the second, posterior, to defecate. The one (urethral meatus) is located more forward for the male. approximately one tefach forward to the middle. For the female he is nearly in the middle.

The second orifice (anus) , is almost identically located for male and female, one tefach on the back of the middle point.

Thus, when a person squats to defecate, he/she often urinates at the same time (but when a person squats to urinate there is no risk of simultaneous defecation) . In the case of a man, he needs to uncover two tefachim forward and one tefach backward. Forward it is allowed to uncover one tefach more than the minimum because of fear from inadvertent spraying. But he can be very careful and to uncover one Tefach only by midat chassidut (see Ran Nedarim 20b about Rabbi Eliezer).

The woman needs to uncover only one tefach from the middle backward. It is sufficient to urinate and defecate. May be that the fear from spraying is littlest for a woman.

I'll further explain the halacha according to the second Girsa.

The second Girsa:

  1. The man needs to be aware of the situation forward and backward. This is not possible to split attention, so he can uncover two Tefachim backward, and now there is no need to watch backward. For the forward part he can watch and this is even a duty, in way to uncover one tefach only forward.

  2. The woman needs no specific watching forward because of a difference of anatomy, so she can focuse on the forward part all her watching. So, her duty is to uncover only one Tefach backward.

The Bach wanted to take the chumra of each Girsa. Tefach on each side for man; concerning woman there is no nafka mina between Girsaot.

  • One version is that a woman is 1 techaf
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 17:46
  • I will search @hazoriz
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 17:47
  • +1 but your explanation that it is regarding the location of the organs seems not to be the way the Rav understood it chabadlibrary.org/books/adhaz/sh/sh1/1/3/1.htm , it seems he understood it regarding covering of other places not just the very very minimum
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 17:52
  • @hazoriz I am studying the Bach and a I"ll try to clarify the second girsa. The Bach has a dachuk explanation that lechatechilla 1 tefach forward but if this is not enough he will be able to immediately rectify but forward he cannot see and lechatechilla 2 tefachim
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 17:58
  • I wrote that in my question (in the perenthases). even your girsa the reason is not the location of the urethral ... But becouse it sprays forward
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 18:00

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