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How Severe is the Prohibition of Yichud With a Non-Jewish Man or Woman?

Rabbi Yosef Jacobovits

Question: How serious is the prohibition of yichud between a Jewish man and non-Jewish woman?

Answer: Generally, when a Jewish man is secluded with a non-Jewish woman, the prohibition of yichud is a d’rabanan; however, if the woman is married to a non-Jewish husband, it is more severe and may be d’ohraysa

(Note: When we speak about marriage between two non-Jews, it doesn’t necessarily mean a legal marriage. Any committed relationship between a non-Jewish man and woman would be considered “marriage” in this regard.)

If a non-Jewish man and woman are in a committed relationship, it is forbidden for either of them to be unfaithful with any other person. If a Jewish man would have relations with the non-Jew’s wife, he would be transgressing this d’ohraysa prohibition. Although this transgression does not bear the death penalty, it is prohibited by a mitzvas asei in the Torah [among other prohibitions]. Some Poskim say that this also means that there would be an issur d’ohraysa of yichud with this lady. Others disagree and say that yichud d’ohraysa only applies to an “ervah” who bears the death penalty.   

Since this is a machlokes haPoskim, and there are practical differences between a potential Yichud d’ohraysa and a Yichud d’rabanan, everyone should ask their own shailoh if this is relevant to them.

Question: What about a Jewish woman being alone with a non-Jewish man?

Answer: It is forbidden d’ohraysa for a married Jewish woman to have relations with a non-Jewish man and this prohibition bears the death penalty. For this reason, the Vilna Gaon clearly says that yichud d’ohraysa does apply between a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man. 


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