The very first Yichud which the Torah describes in detail, and which the Torah describes in detail, and one which potentially could have had disastrous results, was the Yichud of Yosef and the wife of Potifar. The Torah tells us (Bereishis 39:11) “And it was on that day that Yosef came home to do his work and no other household members were at home. She grabbed his garment saying...” Rashbam comments: “He was usually very particular not to be in seclusion with her, until that day when against his will — being a servant — he had to remain in the house to do his work, and on that particular day all the household members had gone out to see the river Nile rise...”

The very fact that the Torah records the details of this story, and that Chazal expand on the great challenge and test presented to Yosef, indicate the great nisayon a Yichud situation presents. Yosef HaTzaddik almost succumbed to the temptation; only at the last minute did an image of his father appear to him, and he saw Gehinnom open before his feet. This combination of visions held him back from sinning. In today’s generation, who could parallel the righteousness of Yosef and be so sure that in such circumstances he would not sin? Prevention is the best cure. To avoid any Yichud situation is certainly the best way, and the surest path to maintaining Kedushas Yisroel.

The Chofetz Chaim in his sefer Machne Yisroel, Ch. 19, records a story about Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe, the author of the Levush. From this story we can see the great reward in store for whomever is careful about Yichud.

“It is recorded in holy seforim that in the merit of being careful about the prohibition of Yichud, the Levush was granted the merit to compile such great seforim. He was a merchant in his youth, and he once came to the house of a well to-do-lady. He entered the house in order to sell his merchandise without realizing that there was nobody else at home. She took him into an inner chamber and made an approach to him. The only way to escape from the room was through a toilet, which opened into a sewer that led away from the house. Although he was dressed in expensive clothing, he immediately escaped through the toilet, ruining his clothing in the process. Consequently, it was decided in Heaven that since he had withstood such a test, he would merit to become a great Posek and Rav. He would merit to write ten seforim, each of which would be called Levush, meaning a garment, to recall the fact that he had been willing to ruin his expensive garments in order not to sin.”

The ten Levushim hold a very prominent place in today’s Torah literature, and this is all in the merit of keeping the laws of Yichud.

The sefer Lev Eliyahu quotes a story of the Nesivos in connection with Yichud: “The great tzaddik Av Beis Din of Aliska told me that he read himself in the communal records of the town of Lisa an awesome story of events that occurred involving the Rav of Lisa, the famous Gaon R. Yaakov zt”l, author of the Nesivos and Chavas Daas.

Once the widowed daughter of the Nesivos needed to travel with her own daughter, who was a kallah, to a certain town to make purchases for the wedding. They hired a wagon with a non-Jewish driver. Instead of driving them to their destination, this wicked driver took them to his home, called in his friends, robbed the women of their money and tied them with ropes. He lit a large fire in the oven, planning to cast them into the furnace so that no trace of them would remain. Meanwhile he placed the stolen money on the table, and the robbers started discussing how to divide the money. Suddenly, the door opened and a German officer entered the house. The murderous robbers fled for their lives. The officer untied the women, returned their money and took them back to the town.

That night the Nesivos — who had already passed on to the next world — came to his daughter in a dream and said to her, ‘You should know that when I became aware of your situation, I ascended to a high Heavenly place and I requested mercy for you. It did not help, for you had transgressed the prohibition of being in Yichud with a non-Jew. I ascended to an even higher place and entreated that your lives be saved in the merit of the Torah which I disseminated in my sefer Nesivos and other seforim. This is what helped you. From now on, however, be extremely careful never to transgress the prohibition of Yichud.’

This entire episode was told to the communal leaders of the town Lisa by the daughter of the Nesivos, and they recorded it in the communal ledger for posterity.”

Every parent should pray that their children be saved from any test or nisayon. This is evident from the story recorded in Tanna Dvei Eliyahu Ch. 18: “There was once a Kohen who was very G‑d fearing, and he performed all his good deeds discreetly. He had ten children, six sons and four daughters, from one wife. Every day he would pray, prostrate himself before Hashem and request mercy that none of his children transgress or be involved with anything untoward or unsavory. When Ezra led the Jews out of Bavel, this Kohen and his family accompanied him. The Jew merited a long life in which, during the course of fifty years, he saw his children merit to become Kohanim Gedolim, and his grandchildren, the Pirchei Kehunah. About such a man does the verse state (Tehillim 37): “Trust in Hashem and do good...delight in Hashem and He will grant you the requests of your heart.” Today, parents who wish to see true Yiddishe and Chassidishe nachas from their children must pray that they be saved from all the great nisyonos and challenges of secular society.

Every day we pray, “Do not bring me to a test — nisayon.” We also know that no less a personage than King David himself1 inquired from Hashem as to why the opening blessing of the Amidah mentions the G‑d of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov but doesn’t mention the G‑d of David. Hashem replied that He had tested the Patriarchs and they had excelled, whereas He had not tested David. King David than asked Hashem for a test — the test of Bas Sheva — which he failed. We derive from this episode that one should not ask for a test. It is well worth bearing this point in mind if one may be in a Yichud situation. However great one may be, and however strong one’s convictions, one must always remember: a) Yichud is prohibited whether it makes sense or not (and the mind and common sense are surely clouded when it comes to arayos); b) never ask for a test — for even the greatest have succumbed, and c) there are no guarantees when it comes to arayos.

A final word: it is unfortunate that today, because we are surrounded by a promiscuous society, some people lose their sensitivity for kedushah. They often don’t feel “what’s wrong” in certain situations, and that can be a problem even if those situations are permitted according to the strict letter of halachah. However, we must always remember the golden phrase, Es Past Nisht, meaning “it’s not befitting”. Even if certain situations are halachically permitted, there still needs to be a sensitivity for kedushah that will take a person Lifnim Meshuras Hadin — beyond the letter of the law — so that they will be sensitive to the spirit of the law.

A certain Rav said that he was once in an apartment building which had a small elevator. Another married couple was waiting for the elevator, as well. When it finally arrived and the doors opened, the woman saw that if all three entered the elevator, she would feel that she would be standing uncomfortably close to the Rav. She did not enter, and she asked her husband to tell the Rav to use the elevator first, that they would wait. Of course, according to halachah it was definitely permitted for all three to enter the elevator, since the woman was accompanied by her husband. There was absolutely no question of Yichud. However, the woman had developed a sensitivity to Es Past Nisht and felt that it was not befitting for a tznius woman to stand that close to another man, even for a few moments. It is incumbent on teachers and parents alike to instill in their students and children not only a solid knowledge of the halachah, but also a deep sensitivity, so that they should wherever necessary go beyond the letter of the law to safeguard kedushas Yisroel. Children must be educated that in every situation they must ask two questions: 1) Is this halachically permitted? 2) Even if it is permitted by halachah, is it befitting or not? This is most certainly the case in the education of Chassidishe children — for the whole essence of a Chassid is one who goes Lifnim Mishuras Hadin.

The Midrash2 states that in the merit of distancing ourselves from arayos, we will merit the Geulah. May it be Hashem’s Will that in the merit of learning and keeping these halachos we shall merit the coming of Moshiach. On that great day, Hashem will bring a spirit of purity to the world, and our true focus will be on Yichud with Hashem, Amen.