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tzitzit in the bathroom and in general


Rabbi David Sperling

Adar I 1, 5776
1.Is it better to wear tzitzit in the bathroom or to take them off? 2. Does one get a mitzvah while wearing them in the bathroom? 3. Does one get a mitzvah every second of wearing them, or only once for putting them on? 4. Since tzitzit (especially techelet) are supposed to remind us of Hashem, would it not better to take them off before the bathroom, since we are not supposed to have holy thoughts there? Thanks so much!!
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Today we are accustomed to wearing tzitzit on two types of garments. One is the large tallit that we wear almost exclusively for pray – and the other is the "arbah kanfot" or "tallit katan", the smaller four cornered garment generally worn under one's shirt all day long. In relation to the tallit, we do not wear it in the bathroom, as it has been set aside as a prayer garment, and as such it is inappropriate to wear it there. The smaller "arba kanfot" tzitzit that we wear may be worn in the bathroom, as pointed out in the previous answer, they have no exclusive holiness (as opposed to tefillen say). Now we can turn to your questions – 1. One should not remove their tzitzit just because they are entering the bathroom. They should be left on. (Although there are holy individuals who were accustomed to remove their tzitzit that they wore over their shirts, before entering the bathroom, this is a stricture, and not normative practice). 2. There is some discussion as to fulfilling mitzvoth in the bathroom. For example, the Mishna Brurah rules that one should not listen to the shofar in the bathroom or other unclean place. However, it is clear from his other rulings that one can and should perform the mitzvah of tzitzit in the bathroom. (See Hilchot Shlomo, Moadim 1, chapter 2,17 [Hebrew]). So, bottom line – it would seem that one does indeed "get a mitzvah" for wearing tzitzit in the bathroom. 3. The mitzvah of tzitzit is a continual one, and every moment of wearing tzitzit is considered as a mitzvah, not just the initial act of putting the tzitzit on. 4. One should not think about holy thoughts in the bathroom – but nonetheless the tzitzit should be worn, as we said. Blessings.
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