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The Mishnah in Kiddushin (4,12-14) outlines the laws of Yihud. While the Toseftah provided in #14 warns in general about teaching "his son a woman’s trade", the only profession that is explicitly prohibited for singles is teaching the written Torah to kids in #13:

לֹא יִלְמַד אָדָם רַוָּק סוֹפְרִים
An unmarried man must not learn to be a teacher.

I understand that many professions require/allow for Yihud in a woman's house (a peddler) or a man's house (a carpenter). But for a teacher the kids always present, so there can be no Yihud anyway.

Is teaching Torah the worst profession Yichud-wise? What was so special/dangerous about it in their times? Does it still hold Halachicly?

Note, I don't question the Mishna's ruling, I ask why teaching is worse than others.

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    They didn't have plumbers back then. Nor plumbing – Double AA May 28 at 12:13
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    Maybe the tosefta that forbids teaching is worried about not yichud but something else? You've given me no reason to think otherwise, though I haven't checked the sources. Note that the numbering in tosefta and in mishna don't always match one another. – msh210 May 28 at 13:24
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    @Richard The context here is indoor plumbing (i.e. someone being alone with someone in a house) which I don't think existed at this time. The ancient version of a plumber was a "pipe cleaner" גורף ביבין (Shemot Rabba 6:1) – b a May 28 at 22:26
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    @ba - The Romans used rolled lead for indoor piping from almost the founding of Rome. The Egyptians had some version of indoor plumbing from about 1500BC – Richard May 28 at 22:39
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    What was so special or dangerous about it in their times ? - Rampant pedophilia, which ran amok in ancient Greek-Roman times, when it was not uncommon for young (and therefore effeminate) male pupils to physically submit themselves to their master's (teacher's) romantic desires, as a form of payment and/or gratitude. – Lucian Jun 6 at 1:06
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The reason for the Mishna in Kiddushin prohibiting singles to teach children is not because of the technical prohibition of Yichud, but due to a general concern of the single building relationships with parents of the children, who would be picking them up and meeting with the teacher regularly. For example, Tiferes Yisrael writes that a single man will get comfortable with the mothers of children, even if he does not do Yichud with them:

ר"ל לא ילמוד עם תנוקת, דעי"ז מתרגל עם אמותיהן של הילדים. ואפילו לא יתיחד עמהן אסור [סי' כ"ב]:‏

However, there are some sources which do seem to tie the prohibition to Yichud. This can be explained in two ways:

  1. The children being discussed are too young to nullify the Yichud situation
  2. We are concerned for purposeful Yichud which arises as a result of their relationship

Shulchan Aruch EH 22:20 (see below link) uses the general, non-Yichud language about a single man, and the language of Yichud for a single woman. The Beis Shmuel there (note 21) explains that for the man, there is an aveirah even without Yichud, but for a woman, it will only be an aveirah if she secludes herself with him:

ונמצ' מתגרה בנשים. כאן כתב מתגרה ובאשה כתב מתייחד' עמהם נראה כאן אפילו אם ליכ' יחוד אסור משום גירוי בנשים אבל בנשים לא שייך גירוי ואין אסור אלא אם מתייחד' וכ"כ ב"ח:‏

  • Thank you very much, it is very helpful, an interesting direction. 1. The Mishna #13 is between #12 and 14 that speak of Yihud, so it's logical that it relates to that very problem 2. If building relations, why limiting to singles? Married ones can also build relations 3. I thought kids beyond 5-6 are considered יודע טעם ביאה so they know when people have sex, so they can be a good anti-Yihud measure. 4. How is it worse than a peddler that has everyday contact with different women, that's not bound with kids? – Al Berko May 28 at 13:49
  • @AlBerko Thanks! To respond: 1. The next mishna also refers to sexual concerns that are not necessarily of a Yichud nature, but also, we are worried that this relationship may lead to Yichud. 2. In general, having a wife around limits building relationships with other women, and see Baer Heitev EH22:12 as well. 3. I explained that above. 4. Who says it is any worse than a peddler? If the peddler can't avoid Yichud, he can't practice either! (see Rambam/Ra"Ch on the Mishna for sources) – רבות מחשבות May 28 at 13:58
  • 4. Because the question was why teaching דווקא, the Mishnah could say "כגון" or list several professions. of course Rambam expands it, but I wondered about the Mishnah 3. Remind me the source of the min. age, please. 7. I also thought that teaching Torah to kids is so Holy or Heavenly or something, it would be much more reasonable to have a different example. – Al Berko May 28 at 14:02

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