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The Concept of Yichud- The Prohibition Of Being Alone With Others

*** This Halacha deals with topic of Yichud. Yichud is the concept that a man may not be secluded with a forbidden woman. Please read all the Halachot on this topic as there are conditions and exclusions that must be fully understood before accepting Lema’ase. ***

[There are many direct quotes in today’s Halacha. Please listen to the audio clip to hear the quotes verbatim from the various sources. The transcription below does not include the transliterations of the quotes, but rather an explanation of the quotes.]

The question was recently asked about the topic of Yichud. This is the law restricting seclusion among men and women. Men are not allowed to be alone with women. The details of this concept are very complex, and today we are just going to discuss an overview and focus on the seriousness of this Halacha.

The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon {Maimonides} 1135–1204 ) writes on this subject in the laws of ‘Isure Bi’ah” in perek 22. He writes that the biggest cause of elicit relations stems from neglecting the principal of Yichud. Being alone with a woman will lead a man to promiscuity. The Rambam further writes that many great Chachamim used to tell their students to warn and alert them in the event they are secluded with their daughter in law. The Chachamim themselves went out for their way to show their students that the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) is strong and that everyone must be careful and avoid Yichud.

The Meiri (Rav Menachem Meiri, born in Provence in 1249) was one of the Rishonim, and he commented on the Gemara in Kidushin which talks about Yichud, and he says that violating the laws Yichud is the key that opens the doors that leads to sin. Rabbeinu Yona, in his book Sha’arei Teshuva (a work on ethics and repentance) in the Sha’arei Shelishi, part 7, writes that a man is considered Yir’ei Shamyim (G-d fearing) if he is careful to follow the laws of Yichud and avoids being alone with a woman for he is concerned that he might commit a sin. He fences himself in, and shields himself from possibly committing transgressions, and thus he is deemed Yir’ei Shamyim.

The Sefer HaChinuch, a popular work that explains the 613 Mitzvot which is believed to have been written by the Ra’ah (Rav Aharon Halevi) gives the rationale behind the Mitzvah of Yichud in Mitzvah number 188. There, Yichud, the prohibition of seclusion, is discussed at length.

There’s a story that is told about a Rabbi by the name of Rabbi Ya’akov Lorberbaum of Lissa (died 1832). He authored a Sefer called ‘Netivot Hamishpat,’ and a book called Chavat Da’at. He had a granddaughter that was engaged, and one day his daughter and granddaughter journeyed in a wagon of a gentile to a nearby city to buy items for the upcoming wedding. The driver veered off the road knowing that they had money, and took them to his house. He, along with some co-conspirators robbed them of their money and prepared to burn them in order to suppress any evidence. But suddenly the door opened and in came German officers into the house. The gangsters escaped, and the Germans saved the ladies and returned their money. This was a miracle. That night, Rabbi Ya’akov of Lissa appeared to his daughter in a dream, and he said that he was in heaven and he saw what happened. He then went to one of the levels in heaven to plead for her salvation, but he was rejected because she had transgressed the sin of Yichud, as she was alone with the wagon driver. So the Rabbi then went to a higher level in heaven and pleaded his case in front of Bore Olam, and beseeched that in the merit of the books that he wrote that his daughter and granddaughter be saved. That worked, and thus the ladies were saved. So you see from this story, how important it is to be careful and not treat Yichud lightly. This is a very serious prohibition that must be followed. You can see from this story that that observance of this law is monitored very closely, so much so that it can jeopardize one’s safety and well being.

So today’s Halacha is just an introduction to this topic. In the upcoming days, B’ezrat Hashem, we will talk about some practical Halachot on this topic. Today was just about an introduction to show how serous Yichud is. It’s brought down by all the Rishonim, and it’s actually from Gemara Kidushin on Daf 80, and B’ezrat Hashem we will elaborate in the upcoming Daily Halachot.

It is requested that all the Halachot on the topic of Yichud be read in order to understand its complexities, leniencies and inter-associations. There are conditions and exclusions that apply that are addressed throughout our series of Yichud Halachot. If you read only one Halacha you might only be getting part of the story. Do not to take any of these Yichud Halachot Lema’ase (to action) until we complete the series, and until you have had the chance to review all the Halachot on this subject.