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Reading Jewish Books in bathroom


Rabbi David Sperling

Tevet 15, 5776
If a Jewish book or magazine (stories, novel etc...) has the word Ha-shem written in it, may this book be read in the bathroom?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. There are two separate issues involved in your question. The first is that it is forbidden to learn and think about Torah thoughts in the bathroom. So, if the reading material in question deals directly with Torah learning and thought, or it will bring you to such thought, it is forbidden to read in the bathroom. The second issue is the sanctity of the texts themselves. In many modern Jewish magazines, newspapers and stories, it is quite common to find references to Torah verses, ideas, or expressions, even if they are not written out fully as verses. For example, one can find the expression "Baruch Hashem", or "The Torah World was distraught at the desecration of the holy Torah Scrolls – Hashem should have mercy!". Even though the authors are careful not to write out G-d's name, or even full Torah verses, these Torah like ideas find there way into many articles and books. Are they permitted in the bathroom? Rav Sternboch shiltah, in his Tshuvot v'Hanagot (volume 2, 466) addresses this issue, and writes that when there is a newspaper which mentions, by the way, these Torah like ideas, where it is clear that one's intent is to read the story, and not to learn the words of Torah, it is permitted to take them into the bathroom. If though the name of G-d is written out fully, then it is forbidden. Though there are those who are strict in this issue – and read only purely secular works in the bathroom (such as maths or history books), one may rely on this opinion if one is certain that it will not lead them to think holy thoughts in the bathroom, nor bring other holy texts in there in the future. Blessings.
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