A while ago, I delivered a pep-talk to a group of police officers. When I arrived at the headquarters building, my host - an officer with little background in Judaism - greeted me and asked me if I needed anything before I begin my talk. I asked him to show me where the bathroom was.
After the bathroom, I washed my hands three times consecutively with a cup and said slowly with intent the "Asher Yatzar" blessing that one says after visiting the toilet. My host looked at me wide-eyed and asked, "Rabbi, you guys even make a blessing after relieving yourselves?"
I nodded in the affirmative and asked the detective if he'd ever had constipation or diarrhea. He grimaced and said yes, telling me a story of how his whole platoon in the army once contracted salmonella food poisoning during a training maneuver rendering him utterly out of capacity for a week with his intestines totally askew.
"What would you have given to have normal bowel movements back then, instead of the chaos in your guts?" I asked.
"A million shekels!" the officer answered.
"For sure," I responded. "That's why the minimum a person can do is to thank the Creator every time his personal plumbing does its job!"
The Asher Yatzar blessing was initiated by the holy Amora (Talmudic sage) Abayei, (see tractate Brachot 60b). The Gemara relates: "Abayei said, when one comes out of a privy one should say: Blessed is He who has formed man in wisdom and created in him many orifices and many cavities. It is obvious and known before Your throne of glory that if one of them were to be ruptured or one of them obstructed, it would be impossible for a man to survive and stand before You. Blessed are You that heals all flesh and does wonders."
Our sages promise that by saying Asher Yatzar blessing after visiting the toilet, one is assured of good health. Every time we relieve ourselves, the Creator does a myriad of miracles in maintaining the body's health, casting away dangerous bacteria, microorganisms, and dead body cells in the bodily waste. Even more wondrous is that this heavy maintenance is done in a way that's extremely gratifying to the body.
Taking a few moments to say Asher Yatzar after visiting the toilet is liable to save you hours in down-time, sick-time, doctor visits, and even hospital visits. You'll also save a mint on medical expenses. Better than anything, you'll obtain what no health insurance plan can offer - a guarantee of good health.
As a service to our readers, here is the text in English translation and in English transliteration. There's no time to start saying this lovely blessing like the present.
Blessed are You, Hashem, Our God, King of the universe, Who created the human with wisdom and created within him many openings and many cavities, exposed and known before Your Throne of Glory, that if one of them were to be ruptured or one one of them were to be blocked it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You for even one hour. Blessed are You, HaShem, The physician of all flesh who acts wondrously.
Baruch atah Adonoi, Elohainu, melech ha'olam, Asher yatzar et ha'adam b'chochmah, u'vara vo n'kavim n'kavim, chalulim chalulim, galui v'yadua lifnai chisei chvodecha, she'im yipatei'ach echad maihem o yisataim echad maihem, ee efshar l'hitkayeim v'la'amod l'fanecha afilu sha'ah achat. Baruch atah Adonoi, rofeh chol basar u'mafli la'asot.
The Practical Laws of Visiting the Toilet
No, this is not a joke. Proper deportment in the bathroom is an integral part of health, personal hygiene and holiness. Besides, Jewish Law - Halacha - covers every single aspect of daily life.
As an additional service to our readers, here are the laws concerning visiting the toilet in a nutshell, based on Chapter Four of The Abridged Code of Jewish Law (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch):
- One must relieve oneself as soon as one feels the need, without delay.
- One must be modest in the toilet, and not relieve oneself in front of other people unless there is a partition.
- One must be careful not to overly strain, for it could create problems in the colon.
- One must not think about Torah or Torah-related subjects in the toilet; instead, think about mundane matters such as business or commerce.
- One must cleanse oneself thoroughly after visiting the toilet, for it is forbidden to pray if one’s body isn’t completely clean of excrement traces.
- Every time after visiting the toilet, even after urinating one drop, one must wash one’s hands thoroughly and then say the “Asher Yatzar” blessing.
May the Almighty grant you and yours wonderful health always, amen! Every blessing, LB