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Yichud Part 2: How to Avoid Yichud in Businesses amid Covid-19

Rabbi Yosef Kushner                      

Question: In the first segment of this series, we raised the issue that yichud may apply in cases of businesses currently operating by appointment only and behind locked doors. What possible solutions can we offer to solve this problem?

 

Answer: In the first segment of this series, we mentioned that the issur de’oraisa of yichud is defined as a Jewish man and woman (either married or single and a niddah, which is the norm today) being alone in a private setting where it is unlikely that someone will disturb them there.

One possible solution involves ensuring that the two are not alone. This can be accomplished by having a man entering the store bring another family member with him, such as his wife, his son (who would  be considered a shomer, or guardian, which removes the issur yichud, if he is above age six approximately), or a male helper. If two women are present (such as another secretary), this would not solve the problem, though, as yichud of two women and one man is still assur derabanan.

Another potential suggestion is to create a scenario where the setting is no longer a private one. For example, one could leave the door unlocked. This way, it is certainly possible that people may enter even if a sign states “by appointment only,” and the privacy may likely be disturbed.   

 

Question: Would the presence of transparent windows through which passersby on the street can see inside the store solve the problem?

 

Answer: The poskim state clearly that if the room inside is visible from the street via a window, the room has the same status as a pesach pasuach, an open entranceway where anyone can simply walk in, thus obviating the issur yichud.

The practical problem with this solution is that many windows are situated in such a manner that different parts of the room or store cannot be seen from the angle of visibility afforded by the window. If so, yichud may still be violated if the man and woman are standing in those parts of the store (and according to some poskim, even in the visible areas as well, since one can easily move to the area that is not visible from the window).

This issue is also very relevant to yichud in places with a video camera, which we will discuss IY”H in a later session.

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