Rabbi Raffi Bilek
Hilchos Yichud: Let's Raise Ourselves Up
As promised in the last post, I am starting a modest podcast on hilchos yichud for anyone who would like to get involved in this learning opportunity. It’s not a huge commitment. I will bli neder be posting a 2-3 minute episode daily where I run through a few halachos from the sefer Gan Na’ul. The podcast homepage is here, and of course you should be able to get it wherever you consume your podcasts (because obviously you already have a medium you use for podcasts, right?).
I hope you will consider subscribing to the podcast and joining me on this exciting halachic journey! Whether you are a man or a woman, whether you work outside the home or not, these halachos are relevant to you. They come up in many situations where many of us (myself included) probably don’t even think about it. So this is a great opportunity to shore up our observance of this important area of halacha.
To me this is a fitting response to the sad story of Chaim Walder’s abuse. Obviously Walder was not exceptionally stringent with hilchos yichud (and of course he wasn’t really interested in being bound to halacha in any case). But I am reminded of the story of Achan. Remember that guy? He’s the one who grabbed some booty from Jericho even after the Jewish people told very clearly not to take booty from Jericho. Big mistake.
But the fascinating and much-discussed takeaway from this episode derives from the fact that the Lord, in debriefing this episode with Joshua, calls the whole Jewish people on this! Chata Yisrael! Why, ask the mefarshim, is Hashem angry with the whole Jewish people? 99.9% of them followed the rules – no booty. One guy flubbed it! And Hashem should call everyone out on the carpet?
The answer given is that if the Jewish people had been serious enough about other people’s property, then it would not have been possible for a single Jew to have transgressed by taking impermissible booty. The upshot is that, as always, when something bad happens, the primary response a Jew is supposed to have to is consider how this could be a message for them to do better. (I’m going to qualify that slightly: if you see someone suffering, first take care of them. Then think about your own cheshbon afterwards.)
I want to tread lightly here, but I think the conclusion is pretty straightforward: if we as a people were more serious about the many problems of arayos that bombard us each day, then sexual abuse could never happen in our midst.
To be clear, I am not taking one iota of responsibility off of Walder and those like him. An abuser of any kind is 100% responsible for his own actions. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do our part.
This podcast is my attempt to contribute one small piece to this. Hilchos yichud is something we could all probably be doing better. I’ll leave it to others to tackle the scourge of pornography for now, to denounce smartphones and mixed seudos on shabbos and all that. I’ll take on this one small thing.
Please join me. Let’s be serious about this halacha and raise the madrega of the nation up one notch. It starts now.