Halacha » Parasha » Search » Subscribe » More »
Brought to you under the direction of The Edmond J Safra Synagogue

Yichud- How The Laws of Yichud Apply In An Office

*** 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. ***

The laws of Yichud have a very strict application in the work place. Unfortunately many of the leniencies and ways around Yichud that we have been discussing can not apply in places of business. In offices and the like, one can not rely on the leniency of Bal’Ala Ba’Ir. Ba’Ala Bair is a way around Yichud whereby a lady can be with alone with a man so long as her husband is nearby in town. She is protected by the fear and possibility that her husband may come to her at any moment. However, in an office this leniency does not apply. Furthermore, we learned that according to Sephardim, Yichud is negated once there are three women and three men. But in the case of an office, three men and women still violates Yichud laws. These ways around Yichud are not applicable in an office because work colleagues develop personal and close relationships. They develop an acquaintance level and bondness that we refer to as ‘Gasba.’ Such friendships can become dangerous, and therefore the laws of Yichud at a place of business are tougher to usurp.

However, there are ways to alleviate the Yichud problem in the office. Some are as follows:

1) If an inner office door remains unlocked, and it is expected that others would frequently come on in unannounced, then such would be a way to allow a man and forbidden lady to be alone. It must be noted though that the outer office door must be open and accessible to anyone.

2) Many offices these days have a buzzer system that unlocks the outer door and allows visitors to enter. This type of secure locked entry then disallows use of the leniency mentioned above. If the front door is locked, then the entire office staff would be in dilemma. If the front door is secured, then unlocking the inner office doors would not lend itself towards a leniency. The only way to allow men and women to work together in an office secured by a locked front door, would be if outsiders possessed keys and entry codes, and if those outsiders actually gained entry regularly. It’s not enough in this case for these outsiders to come in sporadically. The staff must be aware of the definite possibility that others may come in at any moment and be witness to an impropriety.

3) It would be permissible for seclusion among men and women in an office, if a video surveillance camera is in operation and being monitored by security personnel. Being watched and possibly even recorded would serve as deterrent to a tempted person. Reliance on this method with a video camera can even be used in an office with locked secured front door

4) A transparent window in the office can also alleviate the problem of Yichud. Outsiders having the ability to see indecent behavior through the window would also be regarded as a reason for restraint among tempted persons

But again, one has to be very very careful in regards to the work place. Both men and women must be vigilant and avoid forbidden seclusion. One should check in advance if the office provides means to get around the problem of Yichud. As we said, the laws of Yichud are far stricter in the office environment than at home and other places.