Re: Yichud (seclusion with one sexually prohibited to you)

Daniel Eidensohn (yadmoshe@netmedia.net.il)
Wed, 16 Jul 1997 19:08:48 -0700

Ben Altman wrote:
<<If the above reasoning is correct, then why isn't [being alone with the
women in ] an elevator forbidden since _theoretically_ you could press the
emergency stop button at any time. If what is only a potential is
considered a valid reason to consider a situation as yichud, then why isn't
an open room considered yichud as well because you could theoretically lock
the door?...>>

First let me emphasize that the following is only a theoretical discussion
and should not be construed as a ruling. Please consult your local orthodox
rabbi.

It is important to distinguish between the prohibition of yichud and
situations which might be compromising but are not called yichud. Being
alone with a woman in a car at night on a public street is not itself
yichud. Driving off into a secluded area is yichud. Reb Moshe says he does
not allow a man and woman to be in a car at night since this might lead to
yichud - unless there is a pressing need.

He also discusses being alone in an elevator with a woman. Even HaEzer IV
#65.16 page 132-133. [see also #65.22 page 135] He states that if the time
of being secluded is less than the time for sexual relations there is no
prohibition of yichud...

This does not mean that a person does not have to concern himself/herself
about this seclusion - but only that a straight application of the
prohibition of yichud does not apply. A reasonable person - even outside the
framework of halacha - might not want to be secluded with a member of the
opposite sex - or even of the same sex (depending upon the neighborhood).

It is obviously reasonable for a person not to get on an elevator or accept
a ride in a car from someone to avoid the possibility of a compromising
situation.

In summary. Reb Moshe's ruling might better be expressed as - being alone
in a car at night is prohibited, without pressing need, because it might
lead to yichud. An elevator is not typically a violation of yichud and
perhaps the need to use it is considered a pressing need. One should try to
avoid all compromising or potentially compromising situations. Most of his
discussion is found in Even HaEzer IV #65 pages 127 - 135.

There is an excellent brief summary of hilchos yichud composed by Rabbi
Neustadt in his weekly parsha sheet provided by Project Genesis and I assume
available in their archives. It also mentions lenient opinions concerning
being in an car at night. It can be found at http://www.torah.org/advanced/
under Parshas Achrei Mos-Hilchos Yichud:Rulings of HaRav Feinstein.