The One Problem With The Happy Minyan In Particular And Orthodox Judaism In General

The Happy Minyan meets on Shabbos at a karate studio.

The bathroom is in the back, near the woman’s section.

Women tend to congregate around the bathroom.

There’s no loud fan in the bathroom and you couldn’t turn it on on Shabbos anyway.

I pity the poor man who goes in there for some relief but then is overcome by a fear of making rude sounds to the point where he gets all stuffed up and can’t do his business.

What’s a Jew to do?

I know one visitor to the Happy Minyan on Shabbos morning who put off the awful reckoning as long as he could, then when he sneaked around back to the loo, some women started pounding on the door. He pleaded for a respectful silence but these sheilas set up shop just outside and exchanged lashon hara while this poor guy cast his eyes towards heaven and contemplated a mile walk home where he could do his business in peace.

This is a frequent problem in Orthodox Judaism. We tend to live closely together in ghettos of our own making. We can’t turn on loud fans on the Sabbath. What if you’re in someone’s house and the bathroom is right by the dining room filled with people you want to think well of you, and you have gas and intestinal distress and you have to go but you have inordinate fear of making rude sounds in public?

Turning on the water in the sink doesn’t always cover up the sounds of the truly explosive (not that I’m ever one of them, despite my bean-rich vegetarian diet).

I never suffer from these problems (the few times I’ve made sounds while doing my thing it’s been to the tune of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport"), but lesser mortals do and I feel for them.

Perhaps the best solution is the loud singing of niggunim by those outside a bathroom in use?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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