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I'm male. Say I stay in a non-Jewish youth hostel dorm room which is mixed-gender instead of male-only. Might I encounter yichud problems? Might I encounter any other halachic problems? What's your advice on dealing with these challenges?

Sources, links, and personal experiences are all welcome.

Please don't reply here with advice about living with non-Jews. Instead, please put it in "Being a male houseguest in a non-frum or non-Jewish home".

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  • Do you mean halachic problems you'll encounter by virtue of being male and Jewish in a non-Jewish and mixed-sex hostel? For example, that someone might pull you into his impromptu prayer meeting, or that a girl might walk around unclothed? or do you mean more general halachic problems you might encounter, like that you might get involved in bitul Tora?
    – msh210
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 0:40
  • @msh210: I'd like the answers to cover only problems I'd encounter by staying in a mixed-gender dorm instead of in an all-male one. I'm not curious about general problems like bitul Torah, forbidden speech, or–as you mentioned in chat–stealing sleep. Commented May 1, 2012 at 1:34
  • But women talk 9 times more than men lol. Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 4:33
  • The sages speak strongly against intermingling with the opposite gender, see Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim, siman 529:4 and the commentary there. When you consider the mechitza, and how its purpose is to prevent intermingling between men and women, it seems evident that mixed gendered housing is an issue, even if they are non-jewish women it doesn't seem appropriate to me. There is also the concern of lack of modest clothing. It would be best to ask your question to a rabbi to check if this is permissible, you can check with dinonline.org if you do not have a LOR to check with,
    – BID
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 5:21
  • Could you explain how the specific hostel functions? Is it different than the physical layout of a hotel? Why specifically is a hostel the place being asked about in the question?
    – Dude
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 2:58

3 Answers 3

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Admittedly, a radical answer: If the presence of the other people (I assume a mixed gender room doesn't mean just you and a woman but several men and several women) will prevent you from sin, then seemingly it might be allowed. If circumstances were such that you'd be willing to, barring the halachic objections, get involved with one of the women there (the presence of other people wouldn't bother you, or there is a bed where you can't be seen or the like) then it would be prohibited.

I am stretching his logic, but the fact that whatever will keep you from sin (whether it fits in the halachic framework or not) permits yichud was mentioned by R' Tzvi Sobolofsky in a lecture at YU. He gave more pareve examples like being in front of a window, which isn't quite "petach patuach" (an open door).

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You would encounter Yichud, possibly, as you will be in the presence of only women at times (there is no rule about all the inhabitants of a room marching in and out together). However this is not so simple as this does not apply in a situation where other men could reasonably walk in at any moment. If you ascertain that this is the case, you would not have to worry about Yichud.

Also, לא תתורו אחרי עיניכם if one or more of the woman is not dressed according to Torah law, this is seemingly inevitable, unless you are in amish country or the like.

Also, hard to avoid the prohibition of אל תרבה שיחה עם האשה.

In a male only hostel you have non of these problems.

My advice: stick to the male only option.

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https://www.sie.org/templates/sie/article_cdo/aid/2309099/jewish/Chapter-1-Yichud-What-Where-and-With-Whom-1.htm

Even at night, 1 man with (maybe 3 or) 4 women is probably technically mutar. Similarly for 2 men and 2 women. 3 women with 2 men is pretty good. No less than 3 men with (maybe 1 or 2 or) no less than 3 women is the best.

I don't think sichah im ishah can be called an actual prohibition. See here To what extent can a man talk to women? Seeing pritzus is also probably technically mutar if you are not trying to. The main problem here is 'if' it brings you to hirhurim ra'im.

Yichud with non Jewish men might also be problematic if they are chashud on shichvas zachar. Also, men can be more dangerous than women if you get in a fight. And if it is only men, then there will probably be more nudity than if it is co-ed.

FYI mixed hostels are generally the cheapest option. And the more beds in the room, the cheaper the beds are. Also, hostels are for short term stays. Also, hostels generally have automatically locking doors. If you try telling your roommates to leave the door unlocked they might report you to the receptionist.

I once read somewhere, I think towards the end of a Holocaust book, about some men that made aliya and the Zionists only offered them mixed HOUSING. Since they had no other real options they stayed for at least one night.

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