The Talmud in Brachot (3a-b) discusses the prohibition of entering a ruin.

תָּנוּ רַבָּנָן, מִפְּנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים אֵין נִכְנָסִין לְחוּרְבָּה: מִפְּנֵי חֲשָׁד, מִפְּנֵי הַמַּפּוֹלֶת, וּמִפְּנֵי הַמַּזִּיקִין. ״מִפְּנֵי חֲשָׁד״, The Sages taught, for three reasons one may not enter a ruin: Because of suspicion of prostitution, because the ruin is liable to collapse, and because of demons.

The obvious question is: why three reasons, any one reason would suffice? The Talmud proceeds to explain situations where the other two reasons are moot; thus, the prohibition to enter the ruin still stands because of the remaining one reason. Therefore, each reason is separately needed. One of those permutations involves a ruin whose wall newly collapsed after construction:

בִּתְרֵי וּפְרִיצִי. The Gemara answers: If two individuals known to be immoral enter together, there is suspicion even though there are two of them.

Thus, if two men known to be of low moral character enter a newly collapsed ruin, they need not worry about demons (demons will not attack a pair) nor collapse (because the ruin was newly constructed; thus the rest of the structure is likely sound - only that one collapsed wall was actually defective). But they DO need to worry about their reputations - people will suspect them of a rendezvous with a harlot (such a suspicion is aroused here because a woman cannot be alone in a room with men of low moral character, even as a group, because of their propensity to sin even when in a group).

Why would people of known, low moral character care about such ruin-suspicions? I suppose the same question applies to the law of Yichud (not based on reputation, but an actual law about a man and woman secluding with one another). Per the gemarra, a woman cannot seclude with a group of men of low character because of their propensity to sin with her even when in a group (Kiddushin 80). How about those men? Are they similarly prohibited due to the same laws of Yichud? Do such men care about this law?

  • There are still not allowed in because of suspicion of prostitution. That sentence doesn't say anything about a) reputation, nor b) about whether the people going in should care about their reputation. Can you demonstrate in the question if the gemara is making either of those points?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 8 at 15:27
  • @Rabbi Kaii Thx. The Gemarra expressly states: חשד. This = suspicion in the sense of people will suspect those who enter of committing sexual acts. Thus, their reputation is at stake. Perhaps, you are saying that we are not concerned with what bad people do but are concerned with good people mischaracterizing what bad people do.
    – GratefulD
    Jan 8 at 17:06
  • The way I've always understood this Gamarra is that those who are not assumed to be engaged in illicit acts are supposed to stay away from ruins even if they don't believe in demons, even if the rest of the ruin looks stable, if for no other reason than people will come to suspect them. I have no source, just my logical reading of the pshat Jan 8 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


I believe the gemara in kiddushin 81a can answer this question:

רב ורב יהודה הוו קאזלי באורחא הוה קאזלא ההיא איתתא קמייהו א"ל רב לרב יהודה דל כרעיך מקמי גיהנם אמר ליה והא מר הוא דאמר בכשרים שפיר דמי אמר ליה מי יימר דבכשרים כגון אנא ואת אלא כגון מאי כגון רבי חנינא בר פפי וחביריו

The Gemara relates: Rav and Rav Yehuda were walking along the way, and a certain woman was walking ahead of them. Rav said to Rav Yehuda: raise your feet and walk quickly away from Gehenna so that we do not remain secluded with her. Rav Yehuda said to him: but wasn't it you, Master, who said it is permitted in the case of men of fit morals? Rav said to him: who said I referred to men of fit morals such as you and me? Rav Yehuda responded: such as whom? Rav answered: such as Rav Chanina bar Pappi and his colleagues, who have proven that they can withstand temptation (see Kiddushin 39b - 40a). All other people are not trusted in this matter

(Translation from sefaria)

Meaning: most people, even amoraim, do not attain this lofty level of being 'of fit morals'. In fact, later on that same page in the gemara, there are stories of two tanna'im that would have commited the Aveira of gilui arayos had their evil inclination been given permission to cause this sin. This is not a question of people of bad morals versus good, rather of people of good morals versus exceptionally good morals. This is summarised in the saying: "אין אפוטרופוס לעריות" - "there is no steward to restrain intercourse" (i.e. no one can claim to not be affected by this inclination).

Therefore, most people aren't considered trustworthy for this purpose, yet they definitely care about their reputation, and don't want to be suspected of having illicit relations.

Also (in regards to your last question), as seen in the story above, there is a prohibition (or at least, a problem) for the two men to have yichud with a single woman, and they do, as mentioned in the story, care enough to do something about it.

The Rema does say that all people are considered k'sherim for this purpose until we have a reason to think otherwise. I'm not sure how he explains the gemara in kiddushin. Either way, the gemara in b'rachos might hold like the gemara in kiddushin seemingly does, and therefore make sense.

  • Thx! I just found the Pnei Shlomo's answer which is yours: פני שלמה מסכת ברכות דף ג עמוד ב דהנה הא דמוקי לעיל בתרי ופריצי ע"כ לאו בפריצי ממש קאמר, דא"כ כיון דפרוצים נינהו לא צייתו לרבנן. אלא כדאשכחן בקדושין דף פ"א ע"א "that which we established above [that we are dealing with a case of two men of low character] is perforce not speaking about literally promiscuous [men]. For if so, since they are promiscuous, they will not listen to the rabbis. Rather [we are discussing] as we find in Kiddushin 81."
    – GratefulD
    Jan 9 at 12:23
  • @GratefulD no problem, good to see I had the same idea as the pnei Shlomo
    – Lo ani
    Jan 9 at 21:32

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