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yichud at office

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Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tammuz 2, 5771
Question
Shalom, In my office we are 2 men and 2 women, and sometimes the boss (1 of the 2 men) goes out and we are left with 2 women and 1 man. The office is not a store, and seldom does anyone come in from outside the office. Is this a problem of yichud? Thanks.
Answer
Hashem Imach! Yes, the issue of yichud is a problem. The best solution would be, if possible, to leave the front door of the office, which opens to the hall, open, so that every passerby can see in. If the boss doesn’t like that idea, at least if the door is unlocked, it’s fine, because even if strangers seldom come in, the fact that someone can enter to ask for directions, or to use the washroom (very common, especially in Israel!) thus “surprising” you, solves the problem (Rashba, Resp. 1251, cited in Dvar Halacha, Hilchot Yichud, 3, note 6). The Tzitz Eliezer (Kuntres Yichud ch. 23, 8) adds that even if the door is locked, if other people in the city have the key and can enter and surprise you at anytime, it’s also okay. In times where family life is so fragile, and divorce so rampant, thank G-d we have the framework of the laws of yichud! With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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