Q. I have terrible stomach issues and I spend between 2 and 3 hours a day in the men’s room. Is there any way shape or form I can learn in there or listen to a shiur?
A. See question 2227 regarding if sciences, math, astronomy and other fields of knowledge can be considered as part of Torah learning, when eventually used for solving Halacha questions or understanding some of the mitzvos, we wrote: “Although much has been written and explained about the relationship of our Holy Torah and the other fields of knowledge, Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a insists that the above principle has to be maintained and kept constant in our minds. True, sciences, math, technological and other fields of knowledge may be helpful and even sometimes necessary to understand some Halacha questions and akin issues. But there is still a very fundamental difference between them. Our Torah is Hashem’s given absolute truth, the others not so much.”
Since no Birchas Hatorah is required for their study, (see question 2228) unless they are at the time of study actually applied to the to Halacha questions involved, or the explained Divrei Torah are being learned, the study of these fields of knowledge alone would be the permitted in the bathroom.
On question 2424 in regard to reading in a bathroom stories of tzadikim or Jewish history (kosher) seforim, we wrote: “Piskei Teshuvos (85: 3) argues that it could be that all agree that it is permitted, when no psukim or sayings of the sages are quoted, (and one controls the mind on not pursuing them).
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is similar.”
On question 2228 we added: Shulchan Aruch (O.H. 307: 16) rules that one is not allowed to read during Shabbos stories and meshalim of secular value. Mishna Berura (ibid. 58) adds that reading (of the history books of)Yosephus Flavious, Sefer Hayuchsin, Divrei Hayomim of Rav Yosef Hacohen and Shevet Yehuda, is permitted on Shabbos, since one may learn from them words of musar and fear of Hashem, even when written in other languages. It seems that there is indeed, if no Torah value, at least some musar and ethical value on those stories.”
As mentioned above, if there is no actual words of Torah mentioned and Torah thoughts are avoided, their reading would be permitted in the bathroom.
The same would apply to reading kosher jokes and funny stories in the bathroom. See question above where we quoted; ” Talmud (Shabbos 30b) teaches that Rava, before beginning a lecture would tell a “Milsa D’bedichusa,” a humorous story or witticism that would make people laugh and catch their attention. Meforshim point out that it was part of the Torah learning experience with simcha and joy (See Menuchas Sholom p. 48 and others).
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a