Rabbi Eliyahu Against Breastfeeding in Bathrooms

Olam Katan responsum on breastfeeding in the public bathroom The alon Olam Katan has a regular feature called shu”t cellulari, or responsa via SMS. Readers can text halachic questions and get answers fairly quickly, from either Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu or Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.

My daughter alerted me to one of last week’s questions:

Is there a problem of tumah (impurity or uncleanness) to nurse in a public bathroom, when there is no other place, or is it better to nurse where there are passersby and cover up? Rabbi Eliyahu: It’s preferable to cover yourself well and nurse in a place with passersby.

I don’t know what he would say about nursing in public even if there are other options. But at least he made it clear that a bathroom is not a place to nurse a baby. If you wouldn’t eat there, your baby shouldn’t either.

For the record, there is a different reason for not eating in the synagogue, which is not tamei. As long as bottles and candy are handed out to children in shul, nursing should be permitted there as well.


Is Public Breastfeeding “Immodest”? An Orthodox Jewish Perspective

Modiin Mom Told to Nurse in Changing Room

Nursing in the Negev, or Nursing in the Toilet


  1. But he didn’t say that the problem was tumah, correct? And that’s seemed to be the crux of the question.

    I feel like there is a shiur waiting to happen from this Q & A.

  2. Good response. Rav S. Eliyahu speaks often at my daughter’s Ulpana. I’m happy to be able to share his opinion on this subject with my children.

  3. who is r. shemuel eliyahu?

  4. This was great to read! I can NOT stand when people suggest I should nurse in the bathroom. Always want to tell them to go eat on the toilet, sheesh!

    (Relieved that I could read the excerpt in Hebrew and understand w/o your translation… glad to know I haven’t lost all my Hebrew being in chul.)

  5. It’s hard to find a mall now, at least in the center of the country, without a decent separate nursing room, near the bathrooms, but with a door and a changing table and a sink. But maybe I’m just a snob from the merkaz.

  6. I was just at a Chassidic shul the other day, and when I asked a woman if I could nurse in the women’s section, she suggested it would be more appropriate to nurse in the bathroom instead. This is such a fascinating tshuva from Harav Eliyahu, I so enjoy this mailing list.

  7. Most modest is not to ask, just cover up and feed. There’s a woman in one of my Matan classes who seems to use a “clip-on cover.”

  8. Nurse Yachne says

    Good answer, Batya. The very idea of nursing in bathrooms(which I did in the day) is physically revolting, unsanitary, and demeaning.

    “Nothing to see here, folks, move along!”

  9. There are also halachic differences between a bathroom stall and a bathroom with a sink inside. What the Rav said may have been specifically about inside a stall. It is often very possible to bring a chair into the main part of a bathroom where the sinks are and feed there! More private than in public but more sanitary than the bathroom.

  10. A good and sensible reply. Nursing mothers should not be made to hide out in disgusting, dirty, and uncomfortable public bathroom stalls.