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     Sichos In English -> Books -> Halachah & Customs -> The Laws of Yichud

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 6
Common Yichud Situations

by: Rabbi N. D. Dubov

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Separate Rooms

118. A man and woman may not share an apartment and its facilities even if they sleep in separate rooms,[221] and even if they both lock their rooms at night.[222]

119. A question arises concerning the case of a man and woman who find themselves in a house alone, as to whether Yichud would be permitted if they were to lock their rooms. Some Poskim say that if the woman locked her room, then Yichud would be permitted.[223] Other Poskim disagree.[224] In practice one should be stringent.[225]

120. The prohibition of Yichud exists even if a man and woman are in separate rooms in the same house. As long as there is a door through which a person may pass from one room to the other, there is Yichud. This is true even if the woman is on the top floor of the house and the man in the basement as long as the two have free access to each other, there is Yichud.[226]

121. A man may sleep in one room of a house and a woman in another, as long as there are other people in the house who serve to prevent Yichud.[227]

122. Let us look at a case where there are two rooms in a house, with men in one room and women in another, and it would be highly unusual for a man to enter the women's room or vice versa. If a man were then to come into the women's room or a woman into the men's room in such a way that they would be in Yichud e.g. if the men were prutzim, or if one man were secluded with two women then this would constitute Yichud. The reason is that there would be no shomrim in the room, in addition to the fact that the people in the Yichud situation would not be afraid that people might enter from the other room.[228]

123. If these rooms were to consist of an inner and outer room (i.e., the entrance to one room is through the other), and the men would stay in one room and the women in the other, then there is a dispute among the Poskim as to whether this case would constitute Yichud, and in practice one should be stringent.[229] If the women locked the room from their side, some Poskim are lenient and others are stringent.[230]

124. If both the inner and outer room have a separate entrance, there is no Yichud.[231] However, a window or a balcony from which one can jump to the ground is not considered a separate entrance if nobody usually exits in such a way.[232]

125. A woman is permitted to be in an outer room and a man in an inner room (and vice versa) if the outer room has a Pesach Posuach Lirshus Horabim, an entrance to a public thoroughfare.[233]

126. There is no prohibition against men and women staying in different rooms in a hotel.[234] This is true even if they are on the upper floors of the hotel, since all the hallways and corridors are public domains.[235]

Separate Apartments

127. Two apartments in one house which have separate entrances, but which are connected by a closed but unlocked door, are considered like one apartment. Thus, if a man is in one apartment and a woman in the other, they are in Yichud.[236]

128. If the connecting door is locked even from one side, whether from the side of the man or of the woman, they are considered as two separate apartments and there is no Yichud even if each has the key to the door.[237]

129. Two self-contained apartments in one house, if they share a common hallway and have a common closed entrance, pose a serious problem of Yichud. If a man is in one apartment and a woman in the other, then this may constitute Yichud even if the door to their respective apartments is locked.[238]

130. Therefore, two-family homes comprised of two apartments that share a common front entrance which is usually locked may pose a serious question of Yichud. This is true even if the respective apartments are locked.[239] If a case of Yichud arises, the front entrance should be left open, creating a Pesach Posuach to the hall area, and the private residence should be locked.[240]

131. Let us discuss the case of two separate apartments, one contained within the other. If a person can only exit one apartment by passing through the other, this would create a Yichud situation. It would be Yichud for one man to be in one apartment and a woman in the other even if the connecting door were locked.[241]

An Apartment Building

132. It is permitted for a man and a woman to live in separate apartments in an apartment building, even if they are on the same floor and even if they leave the doors open.[242]

133. If, on the upper floor of an apartment building, there are only two apartments, and one is occupied by a single man and the other by a single woman, then a Rav should be consulted as to the question of Yichud.[243]

134. In general, an unmarried man should not live in an apartment which is next to or close to an apartment of an unmarried woman if they share the same entrance, even if there are other apartments in the building. It would certainly be unbefitting for a Talmid Chacham to do so. In any case, a Rav should be consulted.[244]

135. Apartment buildings that have laundry facilities in the basement may present a problem of Yichud if a man and woman wish to do their laundry late at night down in the basement. If closed circuit TV is in place, this might mitigate the problem.[245]

136. Two adjacent apartments that have separate entrances but are connected by a locked door are considered as separate domains and there is no question of Yichud.[246]

Renting a Room or Apartment

137. A person who wishes to rent a room should take into consideration the question of Yichud and its permissibility.

138. A Rav should be consulted if a man wishes to rent the basement of a house in which there lives a single woman.

Guests

139. A man and woman may stay in separate guest rooms in a home where the presence of family members precludes a Yichud situation.[247]

140. If there is a male guest in the home of a married couple, then he may not stay in the house when the man of the house leaves to go to another town or to his place of work[248] unless there are other shomrim in the house. The man of the house is halachically obligated to wake the male guest so that they exit the house together.[249] Similarly, the man of the house may not be in the house alone with a female guest if his wife has gone out to work.

141. A married couple may have either a woman or man stay in the house as a guest as long as they are fully aware of the Yichud issue and take the necessary precautions that prevent Yichud. It is best that a home have a special guest room where possible so that the guest is afforded the utmost privacy.[250]

Out-of-Town Boarders

142. It is common that boys and girls are sent away to live with other families in order that they may attend a Jewish school, Yeshivah or Seminary. Such a boarder must be made aware of all the issues of Yichud. It is strongly advisable that a person in such a situation seek guidance from a Rav as to how to avoid Yichud.[251]

143. According to halachah, shomrim in the home serve to permit Yichud. Nevertheless, it is highly inadvisable to send a boy to board in a home where there are girls of a similar age (and vice-versa) for tznius considerations. If there is no other option, a Rav should be consulted.[252]

Elevators

144. Some Poskim prohibit Yichud in an elevator.[253] However, the opinion of most Poskim[254] is that it is permitted as long as the elevator may be stopped on any floor by those wishing to enter. This would apply in office and apartment buildings and other public buildings during the day and early hours of the night. However, late at night or very early in the morning, one should be stringent.[255] It is certainly a middas chassidus to avoid Yichud in an elevator wherever possible.

Visiting the Sick

145. It is permitted for a woman to visit a sick man,[256] or to comfort a mourner,[257] as long as she takes precautions that she will not be in a Yichud situation. When a man is going to comfort a female mourner, it is best that his wife or others accompany him. Alternatively, he should visit her immediately after prayers in the presence of others.

146. It is permitted for a woman to assist a sick man, e.g. to help him sit or stand up, provided she does so in a tznius manner.[258]

Visiting a Cemetery

147. It is forbidden for a man and a woman to be alone in a deserted cemetery.[259]

148. Care should be taken when visiting gravesites of Tzaddikim that a Yichud situation should not arise within the Ohel of the Tzaddik.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 30:1.

  2. (Back to text) Since this is a permanent living arrangement, all Poskim would agree that such a Yichud situation would be prohibited. Even if they had separate entrances, it would still be prohibited Toras HaYichud 9:5.

    The issue of sharing rooms in an apartment or house is of particular concern to university students staying in shared student accommodations. An observant student should see to it that he or she stays in quarters only with students of the same gender.

  3. (Back to text) Divrei Malkiel Vol. 4:102; Dvar Halachah 14:10 ft. 22. There are sources which seem to suggest that even if only the man locked his door, it would serve to permit Yichud see Nitei Gavriel 30:2; however, in practice this opinion may not be relied upon.

  4. (Back to text) Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:19; Chelkas Yaakov Vol. 2:17. If the woman is not Jewish, all would agree that Yichud is not permitted even if she were to lock her door Minchas Ish 15:11.

  5. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 30:2 states that in a Yichud situation of just two persons, which is min-haTorah, one should be stringent; however, in a Yichud midrabonon (i.e., Yichud of more than two persons), then in very difficult circumstances one may be lenient. Nonetheless, this leniency only applies in a temporary situation; as previously stated, it would certainly not be permitted in a permanent situation. A further complication of employing this heter of locking the room is that if for some reason the room were to be unlocked, e.g. the woman wished to use some shared facility, then she would be in Yichud.

    A practical application of this leniency would be the case of two female students who rent a room in the home of a family; the woman of the house is out at work and the man of the house is at home with no other shomrim present. During the day and early hours of the night, there should be a Pesach Posuach; however, late at night when there is no heter of Pesach Posuach, then the students may lock the door of their room until the lady of the house returns. This heter should not be relied upon regularly and should only be employed in extenuating circumstances.

  6. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 30:12. Such a case often arises when there is a male guest or student who is staying in a guest room on an upper floor of the house at the same time as the woman of the house is on the ground floor. If there is no one else in the house, then this would constitute Yichud, and they would have to resort to one of the heterim of Yichud such as Pesach Posuach, shomrim, Baaloh B'ir, etc.

  7. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 30:5; Toras HaYichud 9:10.

  8. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:13. However, if it is normal for the men to enter the women's room and vice versa, then there would be no Yichud Minchas Ish 15:6. Minchas Ish 15:3 also points out that this applies only when the door between the men's room and the women's room is shut; however, if the door is open, then it is considered one large room and Yichud is permitted.

    Nitei Gavriel 31:8 writes that if the Ezras Noshim of a Shul has a separate entrance and steps, etc., then it would be forbidden for a man and woman to be alone there during the day when the Shul is not in use.

  9. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:14.

  10. (Back to text) Ibid., 9:15.

  11. (Back to text) Ibid., 9:16.

  12. (Back to text) Ibid., 9:17.

  13. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:8; Nitei Gavriel 30:4. Late at night when the heter of Pesach Posuach would not be operative, then it would be prohibited Nitei Gavriel, ibid.

  14. (Back to text) Shevet Halevi, Vol. 3:180.

  15. (Back to text) Minchas Ish 16:13. Even if all the guests in the hotel are non-Jewish, it is permitted for a man to stay in a hotel, even on the same floor as a non-Jewish woman. However, a Jewish woman may not stay in a hotel where there are only non-Jewish men and women unless she locks her door Minchas Ish 16:14.

  16. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:1. However, if two men are in one apartment and one woman in the other, then Yichud is permitted (during the day) as in a regular case of two men with one woman ibid.

  17. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:2. See Nitei Gavriel 31:4 who writes that even if the two apartments belong to one person who rents out the second apartment, then as long as the door is usually kept locked, the situation does not constitute Yichud.

  18. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:9, see however Nitei Gavriel 31:2. The same would apply to two apartments that share a common yard which is enclosed. If the public cannot see into the yard, then it is considered a closed compound and constitutes Yichud. In such a case the entrance to the yard must remain open Toras HaYichud 9:18; Minchas Ish 16:19. If for security reasons the entrance must remain closed, a Rav should be consulted. See Minchas Ish 16:20.

  19. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:4, Nitei Gavriel 31:7.

  20. (Back to text) Minchas Ish 16:17.

  21. (Back to text) Toras HaYichud 9:3.

  22. (Back to text) Shevet Halevi Vol. 3:105.

  23. (Back to text) See Minchas Ish 16:21; Toras HaYichud 9:18; Nitei Gavriel 31:1,2.

  24. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 22:17, Turey Zahav, ibid.; Minchas Ish 16:23. As to the question of whether a man may be invited for meals by a widow, see Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 3:19, Minchas Ish 16:26.

  25. (Back to text) See Nitei Gavriel 45:8,9 as regards CCTV. A further question is that of who is monitoring the CCTV. If it is someone who would not be bothered by any impropriety, then the camera might not be a deterrent. On the other hand, nobody wishes to have such actions recorded, for the videotape could later be used as incriminating evidence against one. In practice, it would certainly be improper for a Jewish woman to do her laundry in such a basement at the same time as a man, even if CCTV were in place.

  26. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 31:4. This would apply even if both apartments were owned by one person who rents out the second apartment to another tenant ibid.

  27. (Back to text) Dvar Halachah 11:7.

  28. (Back to text) See chapter on Baaloh B'ir and relating footnotes.

  29. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 30:8.

  30. (Back to text) See Dvar Halachah 6:9, that even if a female guest is staying in a room that is in use by family members, the man of the house may walk through the room in order to exit the house as long as his wife is at home. A word of precaution when entertaining a guest, one must always adhere to the highest and strictest guidelines of tznius. In the above case, it would be advisable that the woman of the house check ahead of time with the guest that it is all right for the man to enter.

  31. (Back to text) There are a number of issues to be considered: Is there a situation of Baaloh B'ir? Is the boarder a case of Libo Gas Boh? Is Ishto Meshamroso in place? Are there shomrim? There can be so many combinations and each case is different that it is almost impossible to legislate in a volume such as this for each circumstance, and rabbinical advice should be sought.

  32. (Back to text) See Shevet Halevi Vol. 5:201:4 who is stringent about allowing a woman to take up permanent residence with a couple even though Ishto Meshamroso since her constant company may breed over-familiarity. Similarly, it would be incorrect to have a young man boarding in a home where there are girls of a similar age, even if technically there is no issue of Yichud due to the presence of shomrim. The fact remains that there would be major issues of tznius involved, and there are no guarantees when it comes to arayos.

  33. (Back to text) See Shevet Halevi Vol. 3:184. Chelkas Yaakov Vol. 2:14 and Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 4:94 rule that Yichud in an elevator is only permitted in difficult circumstances (bdieved).

  34. (Back to text) See Igros Moshe, Even HoEzer Vol. 4:65:16; Mishneh Halachos Vol. 4:187; Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6:22:4 .

  35. (Back to text) Nitei Gavriel 15:2,4.

  36. (Back to text) Aruch HaShulchan, Yoreh Deah 335:11; Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalachah 192:18; Baer Moshe Vol. 2:107.

  37. (Back to text) Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalachah 207:1; Kuntres Acharon, ibid.; Baer Moshe, ibid.; Chelkas Yaakov Vol. 3:38.

  38. (Back to text) Halichos Bas Yisroel 7:27 see his discussion regarding a woman who is a niddah helping her sick husband. A woman who wishes to work as a medical professional should seek halachic guidelines regarding the parameters of Negiah, Tznius and Yichud.

  39. (Back to text) See Nitei Gavriel 13:9. A large cemetery, which is often frequented by people attending a funeral or stonesetting, or by gravediggers, stonemasons and others employed at the cemetery, would not constitute Yichud during the day.


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