Section: Halacha   Category: Daily Halacha
What Is A Bathroom, And Can You Wash Your Hands There?
The Shulchan Aruch writes (OC 4:18) that merely going into a bathroom requires you to wash Netilas Yadayim when you come out.  The Mishna Brura explains that this means even if you just enter and exit without doing anything there.  How do our bathrooms measure up?  Th biggest issue is when there is a sink only in the bathroom what do you do?

The reason why our bathrooms may not be a problem is based on a gemara that talks about bathrooms where the receptacle tank of the toilet is built on a slant and anything that goes into it automatically rolls far away outside the bathroom itself.  Because of this it is not halachicly considered a bathroom.  While at first glance, says the She'arim Metzuyanim B'Halacha, our flushable toilets would have the same status, there is a big difference.  Our toilets actually hold the waste until they are flushed while those mentioned in the gemara don't hold anything and it is removed from the premises without lingering even for a moment.

The Ois Chaim V'Shalom brings from his father the Darkei Tshuva that even our flushable toilet do not make it a bathroom since although it does linger until flushed, it is not Kavua since it is removed without too much delay.  Therefore although he was Machmir for himself, he was Meikil for others when the only sink was in the bathroom.

The She'arim Metzuyanim B'Halacha brings additional heteirim as well.  The Mogen Avrohom holds that even a toilet (Graf Shel Ri'i) does not make the room a bathroom if it is washed with a Revi'is after every use and is also meant for another use as well.  Therefore a bathroom that has shelves in it to store items would not be considered a bathroom for the din of Netilas Yadayim.

Another heter from the Chazon Ish is that a toilet coated with glass or metal that is washed after every use does not have the status of a toilet.  He too however says it is proper to be machmir.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation.  Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.