The following is meant as a convenient review of Hilchos Yichud ( written by Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski). The Piskei Din for the most part are based purely on the Sugyos, Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, and Nosei Keilim unless stated otherwise. They are based on my understanding of the aforementioned texts through the teachings of my Rebeim. As individual circumstances are often important in determining the psak in specific cases, and as there may be different approaches to some of the issues, one should always check with one’s Rov first.
Rabbi Krakowski Serves as the OU Kashrut division’s Rabbinical Representative in Israel. He serves as a Posek in the Larger Shaarei Chesed Neighborhood in Yerusholaim. Rabbi Krakowski has been mishamesh many Rabbonim and Poskim both In America and in Eretz-Yisroel. Rabbi Krakowski started his Yeshiva years in Beis Hamedrash and Mesivta of Baltimore. He Then continued in Yeshivas Shaar HaTorah Grodna (Queens NY), South Fallsburg, Brisk (Yerushalayim), and currently still learns in Kollel Nachlos Elazar (Yerushalayim).
Our Sages, with their deep understanding of human nature, understood well that should people be left to decide on their own what they could or could not do – especially with regard to the powerful issue of intimate relations – men and women might easily put themselves in very problematic situations and might, without wanting to, commit capital transgressions. For these reasons our Sages constructed a number of ‘barriers’, of steps to keep people from falling into such traps.
Over the past century our lifestyles have changed drastically. Travel has become much easier and it is more common to have questions regarding Yichud in situations that didn’t come up in days of yore. Likewise the dynamics of the work place has changed tremendously. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are at times differences of opinion among the Poskim with regard to many circumstances. Nonetheless it is very important to be familiar with the basic Halachos of Yichud.
It is forbidden to seclude oneself with any woman other than one’s wife, sister, mother, or daughter (for a woman, obviously, the opposite is true: it is forbidden for her to seclude herself with any man other than her husband, father, brother, or son).
The minimum amount of time required for a transgression of the Issur of Yichud (seclusion with a forbidden woman) is about two minutes. It is a matter of dispute if it is at all permissible to seclude oneself with a woman if one’s plan is only to do so for half a minute. One should therefore not seclude oneself even for a few seconds (Maharil Diskin)
1. Biblically it is forbidden to seclude oneself with any Erva (with anyone Biblically forbidden with regard to sexual relations)
a. There are a few exceptions: a parent with an opposite gender child, or siblings, and a husband with his wife when she is Nida (so long as they have already been intimate prior to her Nidda status) are allowed to be alone with one another.
i. It is likewise permissible to seclude oneself with a grandparent/grandchild etc.
b. Chazal forbade secluding oneself with a pnuya (single woman) even if she isn’t a Nida.
i. Nowadays, since Chazal forbade single women from going to the Mikva to end their Nida status, single women are generally prohibited Biblically from secluding themselves with a man.
c. Chazal forbade Jewish men from secluding themselves with non-Jewish women, and Jewish women to seclude themselves with gentile men.
2. It is permissible to seclude oneself with any woman if his wife is also there together with them.
a. Obviously if it is permissible for the man to seclude himself with his wife and another woman, it is also permissible for his wife and the other woman.
b. It is forbidden for a Jewish woman to seclude herself with a Goy even if his wife is together with them.