Kiddushin 80b: The Night Watchman for Yichud

Kiddushin 80b: One woman may be alone with two men. This was only said in the city, but on the road there must be three men, because if there were only two, one of them might need to go off and relieve himself, leaving the other man alone with the woman.

Even Hoezer 22:5: The same applies to night time: there must be three men.

קידושין פ ע”ב: לא יתייחד אדם עם שתי נשים, אבל אשה אחת מתייחדת עם שני אנשיםֹ. ושם בדף פא ע”א: אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: ל״ש אלא בעיר, אבל בדרך ־ עד שיהיו שלשה, שמא יצטרך אחד מהם להשתין, ונמצא אחד מתייחד עם הערוה.

שו”ע אה”ע כ”ב ס”ה ברמ”א: וכ״ז בעיר אבל בשדה או בלילה אפילו בעיר בעינן ג׳ (ב״י בשם הראב״ד).

Rabbi Meir Brandsdorfer was once asked to serve as the sole shomer for yichud for a chosson and kallah (following a chupas nidah). He sat learning at a shtender all night long.

Usually, at night we require two shomrim, because one might fall asleep. Here, R’ Meir Brandsdorfer either was not afraid of falling asleep, or else he held that a nap on a shtender would not be considered sleeping for this purpose.

[This depends on how we learn the Raavad, who is the source of the halacha that you need two shomrim at night. The Beis Yosef brings the Raavad as follows:

וכתב הראב”ד בספר בעלי הנפש שי”א דכי אמרינן דאשה מתיחסת עם שני אנשים כשרים ה”מ ביום אבל בלילה לא ישן עמה בבית אחד עד שיהיו שם ג’ אנשים מפני שהוא דומה לדרך דאמרינן לא שנו אלא בעיר אבל בדרך עד שיהיו ג’ שמא יצטרך א’ מהם לנקביו ונמצא זה מתיחד עם הערוה וה”נ חיישינן דילמא אדנאים חד מינייהו אזיל חד ועביד איסורא.

According to this version of the Raavad, he is talking about people who are awake at night, and the fear is that if there is only one shomer, the shomer might fall asleep and the other man might go and commit a sin. Therefore we need two shomrim (three men total), so that the likelihood of them both falling asleep is low.

But in the Sefer Baalei Hanefesh that we have, the girsa is אדנאים חד מינייהו איתער חד ועביד איסורא: “While one is asleep, the other will wake up and commit a sin.” This implies that the case is that they are all sleeping, and the fear is that if there are only two men, one man might wake up and sin. Therefore we require three, so that if one is tempted, he will be afraid to sin lest one of the two shomrim wake up. But if the shomer is trying to stay awake, there is no problem, either because we are not afraid he will fall asleep, or because the temporary dozing of someone trying to stay up all night is not a deep enough sleep to make the other man unafraid of being caught.]

Source: Chukei Chaim, Parshas Bo 5780 (#165)


Kiddushin 40b: Courtesy and Manners

Kiddushin 40b: Learning is great, for it leads to keeping mitzvos.

Ri Hazakein: Even good midos must come from the Torah, and if someone has not learned Torah but has naturally good midos, even his midos are incorrect. Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura on Avos 1:1: The midos in Masechta Avos were not made up by Chazal, as the non-Jewish sages did in their books about how a person should behave with others, but rather all of it is Torah from Sinai, and that is why Avos begins with the words, “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai.”

קידושין מ ע”ב: תלמוד גדול, שהתלמוד מביא לידי מעשה.

ובתוס’ ר”י הזקן: בא לרמוז שהחכם מצד חכמתו יגיע אל המעשה השלם והטוב והוא קנין המדות הטובות והממוצעות, ומי שהוא בעל תכונות טובות לבד לא יגיע אל החכמה מצד התכונות הטובות, וגם מעשיו שהוא עושה אינם על דרך נכונה ולא על דרך אמת כמו שאז”ל אין בור ירא חטא ולא ע”ה חסיד, שאין לו מדע שידע המעשים שיהיו טובים מצד עצמם.

רע”ב אבות א,א: משה קבל תורה מסיני – אומר אני לפי שמסכת זו אינה מיוסדת על פירוש מצוה ממצות התורה כשאר מסכתות שבמשנה, אלא כולה מוסרים ומדות, וחכמי אומות העולם ג”כ חברו ספרים כמו שבדו מלבם בדרכי המוסר כיצד יתנהג האדם עם חבירו, לפיכך התחיל התנא במסכת זו משה קבל תורה מסיני, לומר לך שהמדות והמוסרים שבזו המסכתא לא בדו אותם חכמי המשנה מלבם אלא אף אלו נאמרו בסיני.

Two bochurim from Yeshivas Eitz Chaim came to speak in learning with the Alter of Slobodka in Hebron. One of them was an amazing iluy. The Alter spoke with him for half an hour, and for the whole time he spoke about the statement of Chazal (Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 1:15) that if a talmid chochom has no deiah (courtesy, common sense), a dead cat is better than him. The Alter described the disgusting appearance of a dead cat in great detail, and commented that as bad as it was, a talmid chochom with no manners was worse. The bochur went out puzzled. Only later did he realize that as he had been speaking with the Alter, he had had a glass of tea, and after the glass was empty, he had stuck his finger into the sugar left at the bottom of the glass and then licked his finger.

Rabbi Meir Chodosh related that Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer disputed the Alter’s assessment of this bochur, saying that he was very bright, not a “talmid chochom who has no deiah” and was destined for greatness. But the Alter remained firm in his opinion. Reb Meir followed the bochur’s progress over the years and in the end, nothing became of him.

[The above Ri Hazakein and Bartenura, who hold that good midos come from the Torah, seem to disagree with Rav Nissim Gaon in his introduction to Shas:

כל המצות שהן תלויין בסברא ובאובנתא דליבא, כבר הכל מתחייבים בהן מן היום אשר ברא אלקים אדם על הארץ, עליו ועל זרעו לדור דורים.

All those mitzvos that can be derived from logic and understanding, all of mankind was obligated to keep from the day of man’s creation, for all generations.

Accordingly, there are two ways to understand this story: 1) According to the Ri Hazakein, the Alter held that this bochur could not have been such a talmid chochom because he was not deriving manners and midos from the Torah. 2) According to Rav Nissim Gaon, the Alter held that although the bochur indeed had Torah, he was missing something more basic that is supposed to precede Torah, which is deiah – awareness and midos that can be derived from one’s own mind.]


Kiddushin 81a: Is yichud yehareg v’al yaavor?

Kiddushin 81a: It is permitted to be alone with a woman in a room that has a door open to a public area.

קידושין פא ע”א: אמר רב יוסף: פתח פתח לרשות הרבים ־ אין חוששין משום ייחוד.

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky related that he heard that Rabbi Yisroel Salanter once said, “If there would be a question of yichud on a train, I would jump out the window to avoid it.” R’ Yaakov reasoned that since jumping out of a moving train is life-threatening, the prohibition of yichud must be in the category of yehareg v’al yaavor, a sin that one must rather be killed than transgress.

Six years after R’ Yaakov passed away, his analysis was confirmed when the book Kisvei Hasaba Vetalmidav Mikelm was published. There in v. 2 p. 786 the full story appears in the name of Rabbi Naftali Amsterdam, a student of R’ Yisroel, as transcribed in a notebook by Rabbi Gershon Miadnik. The story was that R’ Yisroel had an actual problem of yichud during a train ride, and he stated explicitly that he was ready to endanger his life by jumping out the window – had he not found a leniency.

[It is not stated what the leniency was, but possibly it was that although at that moment R’ Yisroel and the woman may have been the only ones in the train car, people sometimes pass between cars, and it is similar to yichud with an open door to the street.

The question here is that even if yichud is considered to be in the category of arayos and is therefore yehareg v’al yaavor, why should that obligate him to kill himself to escape the transgression? In arayos itself there is a principle of קרקע עולם, that one who transgresses passively does not have to give his life. Tosafos argues (Pesachim 25b and other places) that this is derived from the laws of murder, where one need not forfeit his life to avoid allowing one’s body to be used as a murder weapon. The opinion of Tosafos is brought down as halacha by the Rema in Yoreh Deah 157:1. Here too, seemingly it would be allowed to remain sitting passively in the train after situation of yichud arises.

The answer is that R’ Yisroel was machmir for the opinion of the Rambam, who doesn’t bring down קרקע עולם. Reb Chaim in his first piece on the Rambam explains that he held that the Gemara in Sanhedrin 74b only uses the logic of passivity to explain Esther marrying Achashveirosh, since – according to that sugya – that was not an act of גילוי עריות at all. The problem there was a different one – that even the smallest sin becomes yehareg v’al yaavor when done in public. But real גילוי עריות is yehareg v’al yaavor even when done passively.

Reb Chaim there offers two possible explanations as to why the Rambam disagreed with Tosafos’ idea to derive from murder that a passive transgression is not yehareg v’al yaavor: 1) There it is one life against another and you have no right to decide which is more valuable, but here giluy arayos in any form, active or passive, is more valuable than your life; 2) Even in murder itself, letting one’s body be used as a weapon does not constitute any act of murder at all, even a passive one, but if a real passive case of murder could be found, it would be prohibited.] � �


Kiddushin 34a: Forcing a husband to pay for mezuzos

Kiddushin 34a: Women are obligated in the mitzvah of mezuzah. But why not learn from the juxtaposition of mezuzah to learning Torah that just as women are exempt from learning Torah, they are exempt from mezuzah? Because the verse about mezuzah ends, “So that your lives may be long.” Do only men want to live long and not women?

ונקיש מזוזה לתלמוד תורהִ! לא סלקא דעתך, דכתיב: (דברים יא) למען ירבו ימיכם, גברי בעי חיי, נשי לא בעי חיי?

A woman was becoming religious and her husband was not. She wanted to buy mezuzos for the house, but her husband said, “The rabbis overcharge for them just to line their pockets. I won’t waste money on that.” So she asked her rav if she was allowed to steal her husband’s money to buy mezuzos. She would tell him that they were donated by a kiruv organization. The rav was uncertain what to answer: of course one may not steal to perform a mitzvah, but here one could argue that a husband is obligated to give his wife a house, and part of a house is the mezuzos. Thus, taking his money for something he is obligated to do is not stealing.

However, Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein ruled that she should not do it. First of all, it was not her house, but her husband’s, so she was not obligated in the mitzvah of mezuzah – only he was. Second of all, if he ever found out, it would be a tremendous chillul Hashem for him to think that we steal in order to do mitzvos.

[In Read and Remember p. 332, I bring a similar story in which Rav Elyashiv zt”l was the posek, and ruled that she should not buy the mezuzos because the Mordechai says that one who has no money to buy mezuzos may still live in the house. However, here we are considering a different angle: the husband should be obligated to buy her the mezuzos as part of his obligations toward her as a husband.

The answer that “it’s not her house” doesn’t seem to be sufficient, either, because מזוזה חובת הדר היא. On p. 111 I brought the story of Reb Zalman Volozhiner who did not want to enter a house because the mezuzah was in the wrong place. It did not make a difference to him that the house belonged to someone else. Only when the owner declared the house hefker did he enter.

Rather it would seem that forcing a husband to fulfill his obligations to his wife is something only beis din can do. Stealing and going about it secretly is not allowed. Perhaps she did not want to challenge him openly before a beis din; in that case she was mochel on her rights.]