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Preface:
The Purpose Of This Book

Foreword:
The Source Works for this Volume

Introduction:
The Proper Perspective on Yichud

Source Material:
Gaining The Necessary Background To Understand The Laws

Yichud — What, Where And With Whom

An Open Door — "Pesach Posuach"

"Ishto Meshamroso" — His Wife Guards Him

Common Yichud Situations

Transportation

Yichud At Work

Babysitting

Medical Personnel

Being Careful About Yichud

Inspiration

Glossary

The Laws of Yichud
Permissibility and Prohibition Regarding the Seclusion of a Man and Woman

Chapter 1
Yichud — What, Where And With Whom

by: Rabbi N. D. Dubov

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  Source Material:
Gaining The Necessary Background To Understand The Laws
An Open Door — "Pesach Posuach"  

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A. The Definition of Yichud

Yichud is defined as the seclusion of a man with a woman.[23] Such seclusion is prohibited even for a short while.[24]

B. The Reason for the Prohibition of Yichud

The seclusion of a man and a woman is the first step towards a forbidden relationship; hence, the Torah forbids Yichud. However, let it be made absolutely clear that if a man and a woman are in a Yichud situation, even though nothing improper takes place, they are still in violation of the prohibition of Yichud.[25]

Even if a person is "absolutely sure" of him/herself, believing that "nothing will happen," there still exists a serious prohibition of Yichud. Furthermore, there is a rule: "There is no guarantee when it comes to Arayos." When a person places himself in a Yichud situation, the Yetzer Hara is extremely powerful, and no person can be absolutely sure that under such conditions he or she will withstand temptation.

C. Where is Yichud Prohibited?

Yichud is not only prohibited in a closed room or house, but Yichud also applies in any secluded area such as a quiet country spot, beach, park or forest. As long as the man and woman cannot be seen by other people and they are not afraid of intrusion, then Yichud applies.[26]

With Whom is Yichud Forbidden?

1. It is forbidden for a man to be in seclusion with a woman or girl above the age of three years,[27] and it is forbidden for a woman to be in seclusion with a man or boy from age nine and above.[28] The prohibition of Yichud applies whether or not the man or woman is physically attractive.[29]

2. Yichud is forbidden:

  1. even if the woman and man are not conversing;

  2. even if not pre-meditated, i.e. even if one just found out that one is in a Yichud situation;

  3. even though one may make a fool of oneself if one does something (e.g. ask that the door be left open) to prevent the Yichud.

3. The following people are permitted to be in seclusion together: a husband and wife,[30] a mother and son, a father and daughter,[31] a grandfather and granddaughter,[32] a grandmother and grandson, a great-grandfather and great-granddaughter, and a great-grandmother and great-grandson.[33]

4. It must be stressed that Yichud with any other family member is forbidden.[34] Therefore, a woman may not be in Yichud with her father-in-law, brother-in-law, stepfather, uncle, nephew, cousin or son-in-law. A man may not be in Yichud with his niece, cousin, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law or sister-in-law.

5. Yichud is forbidden even if the man or woman is elderly.[35] Regarding the sick and infirm, see footnote [35].

Non-Jews

6. Yichud is forbidden with a non-Jew, and in some cases the prohibition is more stringent than Yichud with a Jew.[36]

7. A non-Jewish man is permitted to be in Yichud with a Jewish girl under the age of Bas Mitzvah, and a non-Jewish woman is permitted to be in Yichud with a Jewish boy under the age of Bar Mitzvah.[37]

Children Below Bar/Bas Mitzvah Age

8. It is permitted for a girl below the age of Bas Mitzvah to be in seclusion with a boy below the age of Bar Mitzvah.[38]

Brothers and Sisters

9. A brother and sister are permitted to be in a Yichud situation for a short while but may not live in the same dwelling permanently.[39] How long is considered a short while? There are various opinions among the Poskim:

  1. Some are stringent and only allow up to three nights.[40]

  2. Others are more lenient and allow up to thirty days.[41]

  3. Still others say that if the sister and brother live separately and one comes to visit the other, then it would depend on the duration of the visit as to whether Yichud would be permitted. If it is clear that the sibling is "visiting" and the duration of the visit is not longer than normal, then it is permitted. This would obviously depend on where the sibling is coming from; it is obvious that an out-of-town visitor usually stays longer than a visitor who resides in the same city. However, when a sibling moves in on a permanent basis, then Yichud is forbidden even for one day. One should be stringent in questionable situations.[42] If the brother and sister live at home together with their parents, then

    1. the parents may leave a brother and sister alone for a few hours if they wish to go out. However, they should not do this on a nightly basis for many hours, and if they were to do so, then such a Yichud situation would be prohibited.[43]

    2. If the parents would be going away on a trip, e.g. to Eretz Yisroel for a week or two, they may not leave the brother and sister alone together;[44] rather, they should ask a relative or friend to stay with the children.

In practice, if a brother and sister live permanently together with their parents or grandparents — which is fully permitted[45] — then the parents may leave the brother and sister alone if they wish to go out for a short while (e.g., to attend a simchah).[46] If they will be traveling away from home, then if they will be away only for a night or two, leaving the siblings alone is permitted. If they will be away for a week or two, a Rav should be consulted. [47]

Parutz, Libo Gas Boh, Asoko Im Hanoshim

10. In the following halachos the terms Parutz, Libo Gas Boh and Asoko Im Hanoshim will recur many times. We will therefore define these terms here, and later we will learn their halachos.

11. Parutz — A Parutz may be defined as a person who does not keep the guidelines of tznius. For example, a man who feels uninhibited about embracing another woman or girl is definitely a Parutz.[48]

12. Libo Gas Boh — A Libo Gas Boh may be defined as an individual with whom one has a warm and cordial relationship. Examples of a Libo Gas Boh are:

  1. a woman whom a man has known as a child and with whom he has grown up;

  2. a close family relative, such as a cousin with whom one has grown up;

  3. a close family friend;

  4. a co-worker, such as a partner;[49]

  5. a therapist;

  6. a housekeeper or maid.

13. Asoko Im Hanoshim — A man who is classified as Asoko Im Hanoshim is a man whose profession or trade is with women. Examples include a man who runs an office with female co-workers;[50] and a shopkeeper who sells women's clothing, shoes, hats or jewelry. (However, if the business is not specifically connected with women, e.g. a food store, then even though the majority of customers are women, he is not classified as Asoko Im Hanoshim).[51]

One Woman with Two or More Men

14. A woman may be alone with two[52] kosher (i.e. tznius[53]) men in the city and during the day. The reason is that the second man is an effective shomer, and the first man would be embarrassed to do anything improper in the presence of another man.[54] However, at night[55] (which includes the very early hours of the morning[56]), or even during the day, if she is out of town on the road[57] or in the countryside in a secluded place where there are few passersby,[58] then three men must be present in order to permit Yichud.[59]

15. If the men are prutzim then she may not be alone with them, even if there are many of them.[60]

16. A Jewish woman may not be secluded together with a group of non-Jewish men even if they are accompanied by their wives.[61]

17. Although halachically the Yichud of one woman with two kosher men is permitted, it is a middas chassidus to be stringent.[62]

One Man With Two or More Women

18. A man is forbidden to be in seclusion with two women (even if all three are kosher).[63] The second woman is not considered an effective shomer, for both women may be susceptible to improper conduct.[64]

19. A man is permitted to be in seclusion with two women if one of the women's husbands is in the city — Baaloh B'ir.[65]

20. In the case of one man secluded with three women, some Poskim[66] are lenient and permit such Yichud during the day and in the city, on the condition that the man is not Asoko Im Hanoshim [67] or a parutz.[68] Other Poskim[69] forbid it under all such circumstances. In practice, one should be stringent[70] and only rely upon the leniency in time of need.[71]

21. Therefore, if a man comes to a private home to give a shiur to a group of three or more women, then lechatchilah the door should be left open or unlocked (during the day or early hours of the night when the heter of Pesach Posuach is effective). If one of the participants' husbands is in town (Baaloh B'ir), then Yichud is permitted.

22. The heter of one man secluded with three women applies only if they are in the city during the day. However, if they are out in the fields or on an inter-city journey,[72] the presence of four women is necessary to permit Yichud.[73]

23. At night, some Poskim[74] permit the Yichud of one man with four women and other Poskim[75] are stringent. In practice, when necessary one may be lenient.[76]

24. A man may be in seclusion during the day with a woman in the presence of his mother, daughter, sister or grandmother, or in the presence of the woman's father, son, brother or grandfather. At night, two shomrim are required.[77]

25. Yichud is permitted with:

  1. a woman and her mother-in-law,

  2. a woman and her step-daughter, or

  3. a woman and her sister-in-law.[78] Yichud with two sisters is forbidden.[79]

Two Men with Two Women

26. It is permitted for two kosher men to be in Yichud with two women.[80]

Three Men with Three Women

27. Three men are permitted to be in Yichud with three women both during the day and at night, whether in the city or out in the fields, according to all opinions.[81]

28. Some Poskim limit the heter of three men and three women to a case where all present are kosher; however, if they are prutzim, it would be a forbidden case of Yichud.[82] In practice, one should be stringent and only rely on a leniency in time of need.[83]

Intermingling

29. Even where there is no prohibition of Yichud, care should be taken that there be no mingling of men and women even for mitzvah purposes — and how much more so for non-mitzvah purposes such as a trip or the like.[84]

Adopted Children

30. A woman may not be alone with an adopted son aged nine and above. A man may not be alone with an adopted daughter aged three and above.[85] To avoid Yichud, the door should be left unlocked.[86] Anyone considering adoption should first speak to a Rav about all the Halachic ramifications of adoption.[87]

Orphans and Stepchildren

31. The same rule applies to an orphan, stepchild or foster child.[88]

32. A man may not be alone with his stepmother, nor a woman with her stepfather, even if they grew up with them.[89] To avoid Yichud, the door should be left unlocked.[90]

Note: In the above cases, the heter of an "open door" only applies during the day or in the early hours of the evening when there are passersby; however, late at night, either both parents must be at home or another shomer or shomrim present.[91]

Converts

33. It is permitted for a convert (a Ger or Geyores) to be in Yichud with his or her parents, children or grandchildren whether they have converted or not.[92]

34. It is permitted for a convert to be in Yichud with his sister whether she has converted or not. However, they are subject to the same rules as the Yichud of a Jewish brother and sister — see previous section.[93]

Where One Parent is Jewish

35. A Jewish man who has had a daughter by a non-Jewish woman is permitted to be in Yichud with his daughter whether she has converted or not.[94]

36. A Jewish woman is permitted to be in Yichud with her non-Jewish father.

37. A woman who wishes to stay in the house of a couple who are intermarried r"l should consult a Rav.[95]

Dating or Engaged Couples

38. It must be stressed that a man and a woman who are out on a Shidduch must not allow themselves to be in a Yichud situation. Therefore, they must meet either in a home where shomrim are present or in a public area. Even when at home, they should leave the door to the room they are in unlocked, and it is a middas chassidus to leave the door slightly ajar. It is absolutely forbidden for them to drive to a secluded country spot or isolated park or forest, etc. They should not drive alone late at night, and certainly not out of the town.[96]

39. This halachah applies even more strongly after the couple are engaged to be married.[97] They must be extremely careful to avoid Yichud and negiah (affectionate physical contact). The fact they are engaged gives no permission whatsoever to be lax or lenient in the halachah.[98]

Ex-Partner

40. A divorced couple must keep all the laws of Yichud. If a divorced man comes to visit his children in the home of his ex-wife, or vice-versa, they must keep all the laws of Yichud.[99]

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Min-haTorah, Yichud is defined as the seclusion of one man with one woman. However, the Yichud of one man with two women is only prohibited midrabonon. (See Chochmas Adam in Binas Adam, Shaar Bais Hanashim 15; Chavos Yair 73; Divrei Malkiel, Vol. 4:102; Dvar Halachah 1:8 fn. 18. Nonetheless, some Poskim disagree and say that the Yichud of one man with two women is also prohibited min-haTorah — see Maharsham Vol. 3:152; see, however, Pesach HaBayis Ch. 1 fn. 3, and Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6 p. 171 para. 3.) It will be noted later that under certain extenuating circumstances there are leniences in a case of Yichud midrabonon.

  2. (Back to text) There is a discussion among the Poskim as to how long Yichud must last in order for it to be a prohibited Yichud situation. (This is relevant to the question of Yichud in a public elevator — see Ch. 6.) The consensus of opinion is:

    1. In a place in which the man and woman could potentially continue to be alone undisturbed, then Yichud is prohibited even for a moment. (See Mahari Veil 55, Otzar HaPoskim 22:35:9; Shevet Halevi Vol. 3:182; Chelkas Yaakov, Vol. 2:14; Haskomo of Rabbi S. Z. Auerbach zt'l on Sefer Dvar Halachah.) Even according to the Poskim who do cite a shiur for Yichud as a few minutes (see Minchas Yitzchok, Vol. 4:94; Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer, Vol. 4:65:22), they in fact prohibit Yichud even for an instant. (See Nitei Gavriel 12:3.)

    2. In a place where the Yichud will be disturbed and there is no potential for the man and woman to be alone even for a few minutes, then Yichud is permitted. However, if the Yichud may be perceived by an onlooker as sustained Yichud, then it is prohibited due to maris hoayin — Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer, Vol. 4:65:16. See Nishmas Avraham 22:1.

  3. (Back to text) See Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 188) and Semag (Negative Commandment 126), who are of the opinion that the prohibition of Yichud is included in the prohibition of "Lo Sikrvu Legalos Ervah — Do not draw near to an ervah" (Vayikra 18:6). See also Rambam Issurei Biah 22:1, "It is prohibited to be secluded with any of the arayos...for this leads to a forbidden relationship." See also Meiri, Kiddushin (end).

  4. (Back to text) See the source material above. Note that one of the sources for the prohibition of Yichud is from the fact that the prophetess Devorah sat underneath a palm tree. She chose that type of tree since it is tall and offers little shade, so that she would not be secluded with anyone. From this it is clear that Yichud applies not only in an enclosed room, but even under a tree, or in any other secluded spot. See Dvar Halachah 9 fn. 15, Taharas Yisroel 22:2. See also responsa in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch Vol. 4:29, as to what constitutes a Reshus Horabim insofar as Yichud is concerned.

    We may therefore summarize that in order for there to be a Yichud situation:

    1. The man and woman must be in close proximity to one another.

    2. Nobody should be able to see or detect their presence.

    3. They must feel confident that they will remain uninterrupted. (Toras HaYichud 4:1,2,3.)

    Let us cite further examples of places and circumstances of Yichud:

    1. A man and a woman alone in a ruin are in Yichud, even though the structure has no doors — even by day, and even if there are other people outside the ruin. Since others would not ordinarily venture inside, their seclusion there would constitute Yichud.

    2. A man and a woman alone in a miklat (shelter) would be in Yichud if nobody usually uses the miklat.

    3. A man and a woman alone on the rooftop of an apartment building would be in Yichud. (During Sukkos, many people build a Sukkah on the rooftop, and therefore it may not be a Yichud situation depending on the circumstances — see Toras HaYichud 5:10).

    4. A man and woman working on a farm may not be alone in a solitary field or vineyard, unless they can be seen by other workers.

  5. (Back to text) The reason given above for the prohibition of Yichud was that Yichud is the first step towards a forbidden relationship. Why, then, do the Poskim extend the prohibition of Yichud even to a very young girl, aged three? The reason given is that although such a young child would not seek a relationship, she may become the victim of child abuse — see Chelkas Mechokek 22:15. Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer, Vol. 4:65:12 writes that a three, four or five-year-old girl would surely reveal any improper conduct to her parents or guardian, and there is therefore an element of fear on the man's part, hence permitting such a Yichud situation. He concludes that although he neither wishes to rule strictly nor leniently in the matter, those who are lenient are not in error. In the Sefer Oholei Yeshurun, it is quoted in the name of R. Moshe Feinstein zt'l that in very difficult extenuating circumstances one may be lenient with Yichud up until the age of twelve. Nitei Gavriel 11:1 disagrees with this view — especially since the Mechaber 22:11 states clearly that over age three there is the prohibition of Yichud — and is of the opinion that one must be strict with Yichud from the age of three.

    In practice, one should be stringent with every girl aged three and above. In difficult circumstances one should consult a Rav about relying on the more lenient opinions.

    Below the age of three for a girl and nine for a boy, Yichud is permitted. Therefore, one may employ a teenage girl to babysit a boy under age nine.

  6. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:11. See Toras HaYichud 1:16 who states that there is room to be lenient with a boy and allow Yichud up until the age of eleven. However, he adds, it very much depends on the maturity of the boy and how much he is influenced by the outside world. Nitei Gavriel 11:1 disagrees, stating that particularly in our generation, which is in general promiscuous, one should be stringent and only permit Yichud up until age nine but not beyond.

    An interesting question arises in the case of adults who are mentally or physically retarded and according to IQ scores and other cognitive tests do not function at their age level at all; in fact, some of them have the mental age of children. Does Yichud go according to age or maturity? Nitei Gavriel 10:12 writes that there is a prohibition of Yichud with people who are autistic; however, in each case a professional should consult with a Rav as to how to resolve the question of Yichud.

  7. (Back to text) Yam Shel Shlomo Kiddushin 4:21.

  8. (Back to text) A man is permitted to be alone with his wife even if she is a niddah, as long as her niddah state is temporary and the couple has already consummated relations at least once. In the case of a Chuppas Niddah, the bride and groom are forbidden to be alone together in the same room or apartment until the bride goes to the mikveh and is permissible to her husband. The custom is to arrange for a boy between six until nine years old to stay with the choson, and similarly, for a girl from the age of six until nine to stay with the kallah. (See later chapter on shomrim for source material on the age of child shomrim.) This applies during the night. During the daytime, either one of these shomrim is enough. If a boy and a girl are not available, one may take either two boys or two girls, and if children are not available one may take two adults. Nitei Gavriel 8:4,5. Taharah Kehalachah 9:21:32 indicates that in difficult circumstances one may rely on a child up until age 12 to be an effective shomer.

    Alternatively, the choson and kallah should stay at one of their parents' (or married friends') homes and sleep in different rooms. If they have to sleep in the same room, the door to the room should be left wide open. (Nitei Gavriel 8:10.) It should be noted that Taharah Kehalachah 9:21 states that the best arrangement is for the choson and kallah to stay at their parents' (or another married couple's) home in different rooms. He emphasizes that there is no room for embarrassment regarding such an arrangement, and that practically speaking it is by far the best alternative. See Minchas Ish Ch. 24 for many further details of the halachos of a choson and kallah.

    In all instances one should consult with a Rav.

    Further points:

    1. If

      1. there is a lack of Shalom Bayis between a couple, and the wife refuses to use the mikveh, or

      2. the woman may not use a mikveh for medical reasons, or

      3. the couple are separated,

      a Rav should be consulted as regards the question of Yichud. See Maharsham Vol. 2:178, V'shov Hakohen 30, Minchas Ish 4:2,9.

    2. A couple living in the same house but contemplating divorce has the following status: if they have definitely agreed to divorce and their relationship has ended, then Yichud is prohibited. However, if there is still hope for the marriage, either through counseling or other means, then Yichud is permitted. In all cases a Rav should be consulted. (Minchas Ish 4:7.)

    3. A common phenomenon today is the case of the Baal Teshuvah husband whose wife still wishes to remain married to him; however, she does not wish to keep the laws of Taharas Hamishpachah. A Rav must be consulted. See Minchas Ish 4:3, Shevet Halevi Vol. 8:271.

    4. A married woman who was in Yichud with another man is still permitted to her husband. However, if a husband specifically instructed his wife not to be in seclusion with a certain man and she ignored his instruction, a Rav should be consulted. Minchas Ish 4:11.

    5. A married woman who had an affair with another man is prohibited to her husband. There are various opinions as to whether he may still be in Yichud with her. A Rav should be consulted. Minchas Ish 4:10.

  9. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:1.

  10. (Back to text) A relevant story is told of the Alter Rebbe. In his old age, the Alter Rebbe's granddaughter Menuchah Rochel served him. Once she addressed him in Yiddish using an expression of Kovod. (In Yiddish, "Du" means "you" and is used when speaking to a person with whom one is very close or familiar. When speaking to a highly respected person, one says "Ir"; Menuchah Rochel used the term "Ir" in addressing her grandfather.) The Alter Rebbe said that if she uses such an expression — addressing him as if he were a stranger — then it is questionable if their Yichud is permitted! — Kfar Chabad Magazine.

  11. (Back to text) Bach, Even HoEzer 22:1 quoted in Pischei Teshuvah, ibid., 2.

  12. (Back to text) See Toras HaYichud 2:24, and Nitei Gavriel 1:1,3.

  13. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:1,11; Divrei Malkiel Vol. 4:102; Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:10; Nitei Gavriel 5:1-4.

    If the man is clinically impotent, there is room to be lenient — see Igros Moshe, ibid., Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6:40:22; Nishmas Avraham, Even HoEzer 22; Dvar Halachah 2:9; particularly in the case of a Yichud midrabonon. However, a Rav should be consulted in all cases.

    As regards a sick person — in general, the prohibition of Yichud still applies (even if the patient is confined to bed, e.g. a person with a broken leg). However, if the sick person is so ill that he is impotent, then there is room to be lenient as above. Yichud does not apply to a person who is in a coma and is not expected to regain consciousness.

    As regards the question of an elderly man who is visited by female housekeepers and medical staff, the front door should be closed but not locked (Pesach Posuach — and Nitei Gavriel suggests that an "Open Door" sign, should be placed on the door as an invitation for anyone to enter). Alternatively, a key may be given to neighbors, and they should be asked to come in from time to time without prior notice. However, the heter of a Pesach Posuach only applies during daytime and the early hours of the evening, but not late at night. Therefore, if round-the-clock care is needed, a Rav should be consulted.

  14. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:3. The stringencies include the following situations:

    1. A woman may be alone with a Jewish man if his wife is present. However, a woman may not be alone with a non-Jewish man even if his wife is present (around the house). The reason is twofold: firstly, the non-Jewish wife will not necessarily object to her husband having an affair; and secondly, there is in general much less of a sense of shame among non-Jews than among Jews.

    2. A Jewish man may not be secluded with a non-Jewish woman whose husband is in town.

    In other words, we do not apply the heter of Baaloh B'ir with a non-Jewish woman.

  15. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 1:19,20. The reason is that the Jewish children are below the age of Bar/Bas Mitzvah, and there is no prohibition of Yichud upon children. Accordingly, a non-Jewish woman may babysit for a Jewish boy under the age of Bar Mitzvah. See, however, the section on babysitting, where guidelines are given for the employment of non-religious or non-Jewish babysitters.

  16. (Back to text) Dvar Halachah 2:8. Although an adult is prohibited to be in Yichud with a child, two children under the age of Bar/Bas Mitzvah are permitted to be in Yichud. See, however, Shraga Hameir Vol. 8:126 who is of the opinion that a girl under 12 should not be alone with a boy over age 9. In practice one may be lenient; however, it is certainly a middas chassidus to be stringent and educate children about kedushah and tznius.

  17. (Back to text) See Beis Shmuel, Even HoEzer 22:1. The permissibility of Yichud of a brother and sister includes half-brothers and half-sisters — Dvar Halachah Hosafos Chadashos 2; Divrei Sofrim Emek Davar 56. However, there is a prohibition of Yichud with a step-brother or step-sister.

    The question of Yichud with a sister applies only as far as living in the same dwelling with her; however, according to many Poskim it is permitted to work on a permanent basis alone with one's own sister. However, Rabbi S. Neiman in his book Nine to Five writes that ideally, it is preferable not to work on a permanent basis with one's own sister in a closed room; if there is no other option it is permitted b'dieved. See Nine to Five p.32.

  18. (Back to text) Otzar HaPoskim 22:2 in the name of Tzuf Dvash.

  19. (Back to text) Imrei Yosher Vol. 2:43. See also Shraga Hameir Vol. 4:99. It should be noted that the Toras HaYichud 2:19 agrees with this opinion allowing Yichud up to thirty days. However, he notes that during the thirty days it would not help for them to be separated for a night in order to start another thirty day period.

  20. (Back to text) Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:64:3; Shevet Halevi Vol. 5:201:2.

  21. (Back to text) Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:11.

  22. (Back to text) Ibid., Vol. 4:64 (end).

  23. (Back to text) It should be noted that it is also permitted for a brother and a sister to live permanently together with just their mother (e.g. she was divorced or widowed). See Dvar Halachah 2: ft. 8; Oz Nidbru 7:78; Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6:40:14:12; Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:8.

  24. (Back to text) This would be permitted even according to the opinion of the Igros Moshe.

  25. (Back to text) The reason is that this is prohibited by the Igros Moshe, although permitted by the opinion that allows their staying alone together for up to thirty days.

    A few further points:

    1. An out-of-town Yeshivah student may not rent an apartment together with his sister who is a Seminary student. Igros Moshe, ibid.

    2. If either the brother or sister are prutzim, one should be stringent and not allow Yichud — Nitei Gavriel 3:12.

    3. In a place where people do not know that the brother and sister are related, some Poskim write that they should be stringent and not be in Yichud even temporarily: e.g., a brother and sister who are away from home and who wish to share a hotel room. In practice, a Rav should be consulted. See Imrei Yosher Vol. 2:43; Nitei Gavriel 3:9.

    4. If one of the siblings is old and sick, then Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:64 allows them to live in the same dwelling. Nitei Gavriel 3:4 is more stringent and only allows this situation under extenuating circumstances.

    5. As regards a sister sharing a dwelling place with two brothers, or a brother sharing a dwelling with two sisters — see Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 12:68; Nitei Gavriel 3:6. Toras HaYichud 2:20,21 permits two brothers to share a home with their sister, but he prohibits one brother from sharing a dwelling with two sisters. In practice, a Rav should be consulted.

    6. A man may dwell on a permanent basis with his sister, together with his mother or his daughter. Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6:40:14, Dvar Halachah 2:5:8.

    7. As regards a Ger dwelling with his sister, Igros Moshe, ibid., Vol. 4:64:1 permits it; however Betzel HaChochmah Vol. 4:14 is stringent. See Toras HaYichud 2:22, Dvar Halachah 7:19.

  26. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 3:2:4 writes that men who know of the prohibition of arayos and tznius and yet who still watch television, read unsuitable material and visit movie theaters, etc., are considered prutzim. See also Shevet Halevi Vol. 5:202:1. Rabbi Shmuel Neiman in his book 9 to 5 — A Guide to Modest Conduct for Today's Workplace, writes (p. 39), "It cannot be stressed enough that the term prutzim also refers to people who are otherwise shomrei Torah u'mitzvos, but are not careful in matters relating to kraivah l'arayos. They may be regularly exposed to immodesty through the media, or may often be in the presence of immoral individuals through their everyday social interactions....(p.34) meaning that they are exposed to immodesty through television, movies, the Internet, in publications and the like. An individual involved in such activities is labeled a parutz. This is not limited to visual images; someone who is exposed to any form of indecent activity, such as chat rooms on the Internet, is considered a parutz. Such forms of recreation are a breach of morality."

    As to the question of whether non-observant Jews are considered prutzim, one could argue that a man who is unaware of the prohibitions of arayos and tznius (and who embraces relatives and friends), but who otherwise is a decent and moral person may not be considered a parutz. In practice a Rav should be consulted, particularly if the question is of Yichud with such a person on a permanent basis such as in a work situation. See Nitei Gavriel 19:3,10.

    A man whose business dealings are questionable is not necessarily considered a parutz in relation to Yichud — see Nitei Gavriel 22:9.

  27. (Back to text) See Dvar Halachah 7:17.

  28. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 22:4; Toras HaYichud 3:15. A male principal of a girls' school who employs teachers may also be considered Asoko Im Hanoshim — Minchas Ish 6:13.

  29. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 22:3. A man who used to be classified as an Asoko Im Hanoshim but who changed his profession and no longer works in close association with women is not considered Asoko Im Hanoshim — Toras HaYichud 3:17.

  30. (Back to text) If one of the men is kosher and the other is a parutz, there is a dispute among the Poskim. Maharshal in Yam Shel Shlomo, Kiddushin ch. 4 point 21 is lenient. However, Beis Meir, Even HoEzer 22:5 and Sefer Hamakneh Kiddushin 80b are stringent. According to the stringent opinion, the rule would apply even if the two were father and son — see Tzemach Tzedek, Even HoEzer 39. In practice, if a woman wishes to take a job in an office where she will be alone with one observant Jew and a parutz, she should ask a Rav for guidance.

    According to the lenient opinion, one observant Jew and a parutz may be alone with a woman who is a prutzah or with a non-Jewish woman — see Toras HaYichud 3:4. However, if the Jew wishes to take employment under such circumstances, a Rav should be consulted.

    As regards the Yichud of a woman with one kosher Jew and a non-Jew, there is room to be lenient — based on Shov Yaakov Vol. 2:19 — see Minchas Ish 11:15. However, if a woman wishes to take employment in such a situation, she should consult a Rav.

  31. (Back to text) The Rema, Even HoEzer 22:5, writes that men are kosher unless known as prutzim. Practically speaking, an observant Jew who keeps the halachos of tznius, negiah, etc. may be considered kosher, unless the man has a case history of pritzus. However, the Yichud of a woman with two non-observant men who are unaware of the prohibition of arayos but who are otherwise moral and decent people is questionable, and a Rav should be consulted.

  32. (Back to text) Rashi Kiddushin 81.

  33. (Back to text) This refers to an hour when people usually retire to sleep — Chassam Sofer Even HoEzer Vol. 2:76. However, until that time, the rule of daytime applies (even though it may be dark outside), and Yichud is permitted with two men — Nitei Gavriel 20:2. The same would be true if two men came to visit a woman and they were returning home after the visit. In this case, since there is no question of their sleeping in that place, Yichud would be permitted with two men. Accordingly, two observant men are permitted to visit a woman in her home, even late at night, as long as they intend to return to their own home that night— see Toras HaYichud 3:7.

    In the presence of three men, Yichud is permitted even if all three men are sleeping — see Nitei Gavriel 20:1; Dvar Halachah 9:17.

  34. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 20:5.

  35. (Back to text) As regards a woman going on an out-of-town journey with two men (e.g. on a business trip) — most Poskim are of the opinion that three men are needed to in order to permit Yichud. However, some Poskim make a distinction between a case in which 1) the men are present to guard or accompany the woman — in which case three men are needed — and 2) a case where the men are not specifically going to accompany or guard the woman, but for their own purposes (e.g. on business) — in which case two men are sufficient. In cases of difficulty, one may be lenient in this matter. See Nitei Gavriel 18:2,3.

    As regards the length of the trip, the need for three men is only on a long inter-city journey. However, for a short journey, two men are sufficient. See Nitei Gavriel 18:6 ft. 9, who says that a journey from Jerusalem to Bnai Brak or from Brooklyn to Monsey is not considered a long journey and would only require the presence of two men.

  36. (Back to text) "Going on a trip" or "out in the fields" means going to a secluded spot where there are no passersby. However, in a place where there are plenty of people, the same rule applies as that of being in the city — Dvar Halachah 9:15.

  37. (Back to text) This is the opinion of Rema in Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:5. It should be noted that the Beis Yosef's view is that one woman is forbidden to be with two or more men unless one of their wives is present. Sefardim follow this opinion.

    Further points:

    1. Some Poskim do not allow a woman to be alone with two men if they have a warm and cordial relationship (Libo Gas Boh), or if the two men work together with women (Asoko Im Hanoshim). However, others are lenient. In practice, in case of need, one may be lenient. Nitei Gavriel 19:7.

    2. A woman may be secluded together with two prutzim if one of them is her father, son or brother — Dvar Halachah 8:6.

    3. Two kosher men are allowed to be alone with a woman even if she is a prutzah or a non-Jew — Dvar Halachah 9:9.

  38. (Back to text) Rema, Even HoEzer 22:6. However, a woman may be secluded with two prutzim if one of their wives is present — Toras HaYichud 8:1.

    At night, when three men are required to permit Yichud, then if two of the three men are kosher and one is a parutz, there is a dispute among the Poskim — see Toras HaYichud 3:9. However, if two of the three men are prutzim, Yichud is forbidden — Toras HaYichud 4:10.

  39. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 153:4, Taz and Shach ibid. For example:

    1. a woman may not remain in a store or bank at closing time when the main entrance has been shut and people are only allowed out but not in, and she will be left alone with a number of non-Jewish men and women (unless there are windows to the street through which those in the bank are clearly visible), and

    2. a woman may not ride a bus on a deserted country road even though there are many non-Jewish men and women on the bus.

    However, it is definitely permitted to travel on a bus in the city or on an inter-city journey since there are passersby.

  40. (Back to text) Although we follow the opinion of the Rema, it is a middas chassidus to take to heart the opinion of the Beis Yosef and the Rambam, who rule that one woman may not be in Yichud even with many men unless one of their wives is present. See Shevet Halevi Vol. 5:202:1. It has already been noted that the Sefardim follow the opinion of the Beis Yosef.

  41. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:5. Min-haTorah, Yichud is only prohibited when there is the seclusion of one man with one woman. However, Chazal forbade the Yichud of one man even with two women. Such Yichud is called Yichud midrabonon.

  42. (Back to text) See Rashi, Kiddushin 80b, Meiri and Ritva ibid., for various explanations of the Rishonim on this halachah.

  43. (Back to text) Otzar HaPoskim 22:22:2; Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6 p.192; Toras HaYichud 8:2.

  44. (Back to text) Rema (in the name of some Poskim) 22:8. The difference between the presence of two women or three is that two women might cover for each other; however, one would not necessarily presume that all three women would cover for each other. Hence, each would be afraid that one member of the group would reveal any improper conduct on the part of another. Furthermore, the larger the group, the more difficult it would be to persuade any one of them to succumb to temptation — Rosh.

  45. (Back to text) Rema 22:5, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:3. The same exception would apply if the man had a warm and cordial relationship with these women — Libo Gas Boh — Chochmas Adam 126:4. However, if one of the three were not in the category of Libo Gas Boh, then Yichud would be permitted — Dvar Halachah 10:4; Toras HaYichud 3:18. (See however Minchas Ish 6:15).

    As regards a man who is classified as Asoko Im Hanoshim, the question arises as to whether the prohibition of Yichud applies only to three women with whom he usually works, or whether it extends to any three women — for example, if he were visiting a different town and he were secluded with three women from that locale. Toras HaYichud 3:16 is stringent and forbids the Yichud of a man who is Asoko Im Hanoshim with any three women. See, however, Minchas Ish 6:11.

  46. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 3:13. Nitei Gavriel 22:7 quotes a more lenient opinion and says that one may be lenient in a time of need as long as the man does not have the reputation of being a parutz.

  47. (Back to text) This is the opinion of the Beis Yosef in Shulchan Aruch 22:8. It should be noted that Sefardim should follow the ruling of the Beis Yosef and not allow the Yichud of one man with two or more women unless his wife is also present, or unless three men are present with three women (see Birkei Yosef 22:3), or if one of the women's husbands is in the city (Baaloh B'ir).

  48. (Back to text) Maharsham Vol. 3:152; Taharas Yisroel 22:15; Shevet Halevi Vol. 3:183; Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:14.

  49. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 21:2. The sefer Oholei Yeshurun written by a talmid of R. Moshe Feinstein zt'l, quotes in the name of R. Moshe that in a case of great need, one may be lenient and permit the Yichud of one man with three women. (See also Shevet Halevi, ibid.)

    Further points:

    1. If one of the three women is not Jewish, some Poskim allow Yichud and others are stringent — Nitei Gavriel 21:5.

    2. The heter of one man with three women only applies if the women are all kosher; however, if they are prutzos, then it is forbidden. If one of the three is kosher, the Yichud is permitted even if the other two are prutzos — Nitei Gavriel 22:11, Toras HaYichud 3:19. (See, however, Dvar Halachah 10:2 who is lenient even if they are prutzos).

    3. As regards Yichud with three non-Jewish women, Toras HaYichud 3:19 is stringent. See, however, Nitei Gavriel 6:6 quoting Dvar Halachah 10:2 who is lenient. In practice, a Rav should be consulted. If the man is a parutz, all agree that Yichud is forbidden.

    4. Dvar Halachah 10:5 discusses the permissibility of Yichud of one man with two or three young girls. In practice, a Rav should be consulted.

  50. (Back to text) This refers to a place which is secluded, where there are no passersby. However, if there are passersby, then the case would follow the same rule as when they are in the city. Dvar Halachah 9:15.

  51. (Back to text) Otzar HaPoskim 22:26:3; Nitei Gavriel 21:7.

  52. (Back to text) Tosfos Chaim, Even HoEzer 22; see Dvar Halachah 10:6; Nitei Gavriel 21:7.

  53. (Back to text) Bach, Even HoEzer 22.

  54. (Back to text) There is room to be lenient even in case of a difficult predicament where a man is secluded with three women at night — see Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:20; Nitei Gavriel 21:7; Toras HaYichud 3:12.

  55. (Back to text) Beis Shlomo Orach Chaim Vol. 1:48; Dvar Halachah 8:4; Igros Moshe, Vol. 2:15; Vol. 4, Even HoEzer 65:8.

  56. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:10. As stated above, the reason for the prohibition of Yichud with two women is that since women tend to have a more pliable nature than men, one woman might cover up for the improper conduct of another. However, there exists a natural animosity between the two women in each of these three categories, and it precludes one of the women's covering for the other. This is true even if ostensibly they have a good relationship.

    Further points:

    1. It should be noted that the heter of Yichud with a woman and her step-daughter is only in place if the real mother has died. If, however, her mother is alive, Yichud is forbidden, for Chazal deem that there is no animosity between the two women. Nitei Gavriel 24:3.

    2. Furthermore, the heter only applies with a woman and her husband's daughter from a previous wife. However, Yichud would be prohibited with a woman and her husband's step-daughter. Otzar HaPoskim 22:39:4; Dvar Halachah 5:15.

    3. The heter of Yichud with a woman and her mother-in-law is only in place if the mother-in-law is the actual mother of her husband. It does not apply to a woman and her husband's step-mother. Nitei Gavriel 26:1.

    4. Yichud is forbidden with a woman and her mother-in-law if the woman's husband is dead. After his death, the animosity is deemed to no longer exist. The same prohibition would apply with a divorcee and her ex-mother-in-law. Dvar Halachah 5:22.

    5. The heter of Yichud with these categories of women among whom there is a natural animosity is applicable even if the man's occupation is with women (Asoko Im Hanoshim) or even if he has a cordial relationship with them (Libo Gas Boh). Dvar Halachah 5:23.

    6. As to whether Yichud is permitted at night or on a journey with these women, see Nitei Gavriel 24:16, who is lenient in time of need.

  57. (Back to text) Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:64:3.

  58. (Back to text) This follows the opinion of the Rema who permits the Yichud of one woman with two men. According to the Rema, a question arises as to whether a combination of two men and two women is permitted even at night. As previously mentioned, the opinion of the Rema is that one woman with two men is permitted during the day; however, at night the presence of three men is required. It would therefore seem that in this case, too, the presence of three men would be required. However, since there are opinions that state that two men and two women are permitted even according to the Beis Yosef, such a combination would also be permitted at night. In practice, a Rav should be consulted.

    There are Poskim who say that a combination of two men and two women would be permitted even according to the Beis Yosef — see Bach, Even HoEzer 22; Chelkas Mechokek 22:6; Taz 22:3, Chikrei Lev 19; Otzar HaPoskim 22:27:2. Other Poskim allow a combination of three women and two men according to the Beis Yosef — see Beis Shmuel 22:9; Chochmas Adam 126:3. Still others, however, disagree and say that the Beis Yosef only allows a combination of three men and three women — see Aruch HaShulchan 22:9, Pischei Teshuvah 22:5; Igros Moshe Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:15. Sefardim who follow the opinion of the Beis Yosef should therefore lechatchilah only allow a combination of three men and three women; however, in difficult circumstances they may rely on a combination of three women and two men, or even two men and two women — see Minchas Ish 7:1. Minchas Ish 7:2 limits this leniency to during the day and inside the city; however, at night or outside the city, three men and three women are required in order to permit Yichud.

  59. (Back to text) As noted in previous footnote.

  60. (Back to text) Pischei Teshuvah 22:5; Taharas Yisroel 22:17.

  61. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 23:3 writes that if the Yichud occurs in a place where no frivolous behavior is apparent, then one may be lenient. Toras HaYichud 3:21 agrees that one may be lenient in time of need.

    If the men are classified as Asoko Im Hanoshim or Libo Gas Boh, one should be stringent lechatchilah — Nitei Gavriel 23:3.

  62. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 23:5. See also Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim end of Sec. 529.

  63. (Back to text) Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:64:2; Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 9:140; Shevet Halevi Vol. 5:205:8. The prohibition of Yichud with adopted children applies even if the children do not know they are adopted — Chelkas Yaakov Vol. 2:17, Igros Moshe ibid., Nitei Gavriel 4:2. See, however, Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6:40:21. Many Gedolei Yisroel are of the opinion that one should actually tell adopted children that they are adopted so that they will be aware of the problems of Yichud, embracing and kissing. See Igros Moshe, ibid.; Minchas Yitzchok, ibid.; and Vol. 4:49, Shaarei Halachah U'Minhag Vol. 5 p. 262.

    It should also be pointed out that if parents adopt two children, a boy and a girl, then the adopted children themselves are forbidden to be in Yichud with each other after they reach the age of Bas or Bar Mitzvah.

  64. (Back to text) Although the heter of a Pesach Posuach is questionable in the case of Libo Gas Boh — and certainly an adopted child or an orphan comes in this category — in this case one may permit a Pesach Posuach. According to the Poskim who are lenient and use a Pesach Posuach with a Libo Gas Boh, the door must be literally left open. However in this case, since it is a very difficult circumstance, one may consider an unlocked door to be a Pesach Posuach — Nitei Gavriel 4:5.

  65. (Back to text) Shaarei Halachah U'Minhag, Even HoEzer 11. See Minchas Ish Ch. 21 for many further details on how to avoid Yichud with adopted children. A divorcee or widow bringing up adopted children should consult a Rav as to what to do concerning the question of Yichud.

  66. (Back to text) Igros Moshe Vol. 4:64; Dvar Halachah 7:20.

  67. (Back to text) Igros Moshe, ibid.

  68. (Back to text) See note 86 about the leniency in this case of a closed but unlocked door.

  69. (Back to text) Alternatively, a key should be given to two neighbors, and they should be asked to come in from time to time — Minchas Ish 21:13. See the section on babysitting.

  70. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 2:2; Dvar Halachah Hosafos Chadoshos 7:19; Shevet Halevi Vol. 9:260; Nitei Gavriel Responsa 14.

  71. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 2:22; Igros Moshe Even, HoEzer Vol. 4:64.

  72. (Back to text) Minchas Ish 3:3. See, however, Betzel Hachochmah Vol. 4:12:2.

  73. (Back to text) See Nitei Gavriel 6:5 who permits a Jewish woman to visit her mother who is married to a non-Jew. In practice, a Rav should be consulted.

  74. (Back to text) If a choson and kallah wish to go to a cemetery in order to visit kever avos and "invite" their deceased relatives to the wedding and pray by their gravesides, they are only permitted to do so if there are others in the cemetery. However, when the cemetery is deserted, this is considered Yichud and prohibited. See Nitei Gavriel 13:9.

  75. (Back to text) Taharas Yisroel 22:4.

  76. (Back to text) See Nitei Gavriel 8:1. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once said, "Being in close proximity at a time when a couple should be distant leads to being distant at the time when the couple should be close."

  77. (Back to text) It should be noted that even if the ex-wife is now remarried, the heter of Baaloh B'ir does not serve to permit Yichud in this instance, and there is also the question of whether an open door serves the purpose. The best way out is the presence of a shomer (and at night two shomrim) — see Nitei Gavriel 7:9,10.


  Source Material:
Gaining The Necessary Background To Understand The Laws
An Open Door — "Pesach Posuach"  
     Sichos In English -> Books -> Halachah & Customs -> The Laws of Yichud

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