| Halachah |

Never Alone

Yichud is forbidden min haTorah, and it applies to both married and single men and women

Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman


What is the halachic definition of yichud?

The halachic definition of yichud is seclusion between a man and a woman, indoors or outdoors, with little or no chance of intrusion. This is forbidden min haTorah, and it applies to both married and single men and women.

I always get confused: Do the halachos of yichud apply when more than one man is present? Do they apply when more than one woman is present? Are these numbers different at night?

During the daytime hours, yichud doesn’t apply if two or more men are present, while during nighttime hours three or more men must be present for yichud to be permitted. Nighttime hours are defined as the hours that most people are sleeping, generally 10-11 p.m. to 6-7 a.m., depending on the locality. At least one of the men must be a religious G-d-fearing Jew. But this formula doesn’t hold true with women, since the restrictions of yichud apply to a single man even if multiple women are present.

I’m a single girl who works in an office where most of the other workers are men. The problem arises when my boss asks me to put in overtime. While the door is still technically open, most people have left, and I’m not sure if I’m required to check how many people are planning on staying to see if I’m allowed to stay myself.

You’re required to make sure that at least two men, at least one of them frum, are present as long as you’re planning to stay in the office. Otherwise, notify your boss that you can’t stay overtime.

I often need babysitting at night, sometimes past midnight, but I have several young boys. What factors do I need to know before hiring a babysitter?

If the oldest boy being watched is over 9 years old, then you can only hire a babysitter who is over 12 years old if one of the following conditions is present: 1) There are at least two more children, boys or girls, sleeping or awake, at home. Preferably, the children should be 7-9 years old, but when necessary, children 6-12 are also allowed. 2) A neighbor who has the key or combination to the house (or if the door is left unlocked), will randomly come in to check up on the babysitter. 3) The entire home area can be viewed via a video camera (or Zoom). This option is only valid if the video will be actively monitored in real time by one of the parents (either the babysitter’s or the boy’s).

I work as a babysitter in my home and offer early morning drop-off. Yet there is one dad who always drops off his baby way earlier than others, often when my husband is still in shul. Is this an issue?

While not ideal, this situation is not technically a violation of yichud, since your husband is in the area and could show up at any time. In addition, as long as the door is kept ajar, yichud during daytime hours doesn’t apply.

I live alone and never know what to do when I need a repairman, plumber, etc.

During daytime hours, keep the door ajar as long as the repairman is present. If that isn’t an option, notify a relative or a neighbor of the situation, and ask them to randomly drop by during that time.

Is there an issue with yichud for my husband when my non-Jewish cleaning lady is around?

A non-Jewish cleaning lady presents a serious yichud problem for your husband. Leaving the door ajar is one solution. If you (or another household member) are in the neighborhood and your husband assumes that you might be coming home at any time, that removes the issue of yichud as well. But, if for example, your husband knows that you are at work and generally do not come home until after working hours are over, yichud applies.

Does having a nanny-cam at home change the halachos of yichud in general?

A nanny-cam is a useful tool to avoid yichud, but only if it’s monitored in real time, as long as the yichud takes place.

When returning from dates, while the hour may not be so late, driving alone in a car with a bochur always makes me feel uncomfortable. Is this an issue?

Being alone in a car — driving or parked — with a bochur in the late-night hours, when most people are sleeping and there is no constant street traffic or activity, is a yichud issue. It is, however, permitted to be in a car with a bochur as long as there is street traffic or activity, but only if the car windows aren’t tinted or draped.

I’ve had the same obstetrician for years, but my husband has been nudging me to switch to a female doctor. Is this necessary?

While very much recommended, most poskim maintain that it isn’t required, especially if by switching doctors you may lose quality of care. Whenever possible, a patient should request that the door to the office be left open or that a nurse be present during the examination. If the visit is scheduled for after office hours, your husband or a child should accompany you.

My husband and I are in couples therapy with a male therapist, and occasionally I ask for a separate session for myself. How shall I arrange these meetings to avoid yichud?

Even if the yichud problem can be dealt with, it is never a good idea for a female client to be treated by a male therapist, frum or otherwise. In certain limited cases, when no other option exists, a rav should be consulted as to the proper approach to this sensitive situation.

My niece is nearby in seminary and often drops by my house unexpectedly, even if I’m not home. Is this a yichud problem for my husband?

Your niece is forbidden to be alone with your husband, but the ground rules mentioned earlier apply here as well: If the door is left ajar or if you’re expected to come home at any time, yichud isn’t applicable.

I recently began working in a frum company and noticed several of the male workers will not get in the elevator if I’m in there alone. Why would this be a problem?

While most poskim hold that being in an elevator alone with a woman isn’t a yichud concern, there is a minority opinion who rule stringently. In addition, some men are just uncomfortable being alone with a woman in an elevator even if the restrictions of yichud don’t apply.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 866)

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