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OCD and Bathroom Hygiene

My question s for informative purposes. I am going t work up the courage to ask my own rav also.

I have a lot of OCD about the cleanliness of my body when I clean myself while I am on the toilet. Can you please give me some guidelines so I can stop spending so much time cleaning myself??

MUCH appreciated. Hashem should bless you


The basic guideline is to clean normally until as far as you can tell you are clean. Then no further checking is required.

However if you are suffering from OCD or OCD like symptoms in this regard this advice may not be to helpful. In that case you should speak with a professional and come up with a plan for curing this issue. Often this will include limiting your actions in an absolute way. For example, you estimate that x amount of times is generally sufficient, then you make a rule to never do more than that. If this is for the sake of healing your illness, this would be permissible, even if in fact there may times when you are not fully clean.


See Shu”t Minchas Asher 2:134 for an extensive discussion on this method of healing for OCD, which he bases on the Talmudic rule, “better to violate one Shabbos in order to keep many Shabbosos”. This idea was already used by the Chasam Sofer [Responsa O:C 83], see ibid..

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  1. If there is excrement by one’s opening [anus] which can be seen while one is sitting down, it is FORBIDDEN to daven S”E in that state, and one who davens S”E in such a state is possibly obligated to repeat his prayer.

    1. yes, this is generally the case, the sources in this response provide grounds to say that for the sake of healing OCD one may in fact possibly violate these rules

  2. There are lenient opinions that one is only required to wipe himself three times, and not more than that [see Divrei Chaim 2:9 who proves this from the Gemara in Shabbos 81, where it says that the Sages permitted one to carry three stones for cleaning himself after a bowel movement on Shabbos].

    1. the gemara ibid, indicates each stone was usable more than once, so three stones does not mean three wipes
      in any event the leniency here is based on different reasoning, as noted

  3. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 76/7; See Kaneh Bosem 1/7]

    Karyana d’Igreta (1:373, 374, based on Divrei Chayim 2:9): One need not be paranoid to clean repeatedly until the toilet paper is clean. Chazal permitted a person only three rocks with which to clean oneself on Shabbos (Shabbos 81a). Granted, people used to be skilled at this. Nevertheless, it suffices to wipe five or six times with toilet paper and then with a little water. One gets as clean as people did in the days of Chazal.

  4. I believe that in the other case the person would repeat words in Shema/ davening, and the advice was that he should say each word once and only once. But that advice is anyway what one is supposed to do (it is bad [for any person] to repeat words in Krias Shema or davening, and according to the Rambam one who repeats words in Shema should be silenced), and one fulfills the mitzvah even if he is not precise in the way he pronounces the words. And the same would apply to other parts in davening – that even if one slurs the words, or skips some words, he still fulfills the mitzvah, as long as the most important ideas are mentioned (Shem, Malchus, the basic idea of each bracha).

    Whereas, in this case, if the person’s body is not clean (e.g., there is a great deal of excrement on his body in the place from where it came), he is not permitted to daven, and if he does daven, he is possibly obligated to repeat his tefilla, and even if he is not so obligated, nevertheless Hashem will not accept his prayer because prayer requires a clean body. By krias Shema, this person is not allowed to say Krias Shema as per the Gemara in Yoma. This is something that requires further study.

    1. again, the sources provided in the original answer provide basis to violate certain halachic norms in order for one to heal himself from a serious illness and lead a normal Torah observant life.
      sometimes without such a possibility people with this illness get stuck in a vicious cycle and this method has shown to be very effective. Rav Weiss received very positive feedback from this teshuva from many people that this has been a lifesaver for them. If we are to accept his reasoning, then all the above sources are not applicable as we have found halachic grounds to circumvent the rules in this case. this is certainly a novel idea and needs a gadol baTorah to say it. as noted it has precedence in the writings of the Chasam Sofer.
      as an aside it is unlikely this will cause prayer with excrement as the problem is people being over scrupulous, all we are trying to do is normalize them.

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