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A man and a woman are in a locked room alone, and there are video cameras recording all action going on in the room. No-one is watching the video live, but the video could be watched at a later time.

Is there still a problem of Yichud, or does the fact that they know that someone can watch the video later permit the Yichud?

  • 1
    My understanding is that a main factor of distinguishing what is yichud is whether anyone else may interrupt what is happening; not the actual physical environment, alone. Thus, from what I recall reading, if a man and woman are in a room in an office, thi sisn't a problem as people can enter at any time. But, if the door is locked, then there is a problem. In this case, if a man was alone in a place where no one else was likely to enter, it wouldn't matter if the door was locked or unlocked. People watching on video can't physically interrupt them. – DanF May 29 '18 at 18:41
  • @DanF If someone is watching them through a window even if he cannot enter the room there is still no Yichud, because they are embarrassed to do anything while someone is watching. – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 29 '18 at 18:51
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    If that's true, then, I think that if someone watching you on video would pose the same conditions. – DanF May 29 '18 at 18:52
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    @Salmononius2 I assumed that if if someone is watching the video live, and they know about it, there is no Yichud, because they are embarrassed to do anything while someone is watching, just as if someone were watching through a window. I was wondering if the fact that they know that someone can watch the video later also has that affect, and permits the yicud. – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 29 '18 at 18:56
  • @DanF see my response to the comment from Salmononius2. – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 29 '18 at 18:57
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In a first pass, it is difficult to imagine that the mere possibility of someone watching would be enough to enable yichud. I didn't find a straight ruling but here are some poskim opinions which call for further investigation

  • R Eli Mansour writes "It would be permissible for seclusion among men and women in an office, if a video surveillance camera is in operation and being monitored by security personnel". Note he explicitly writes "and being monitored" and doesn't open it to recording

  • R Y Dov Krakowski from the OU writes "If there is continuous surveillance via video camera etc., it is permissible to be secluded in an otherwise prohibited fashion. It is questionable if non-constant surveillance will remove the issur of Yichud; in such situations ask a competent Halachic authority"

  • dinonline.org gets closest to allowing it and writes "Even if there is nobody watching, but the camera is recording, there is room to permit yichud, because of the fear of being caught on camera, though this heiter is more far-reaching, and requires more investigation"

Ultimately it might depend on the probability that someone watches. One might argue that if it is a high probability, this gets closest to the (allowed) situation of someone watching through a video feed (similar to an open window). If the probability is low, it will likely not be allowed.

CYLOR as always before applying any of this in practice.

  • Two more sources of 10-mins video shiurim if someone has interest and time to watch them: yutorah.org/sidebar/lecture.cfm/821147/rabbi-aryeh-lebowitz/… and youtube.com/watch?v=-2h8Uv59JmI - whoever does should feel free to write an answer based on their content – mbloch May 30 '18 at 18:40
  • Why would this be different from an open window where someone might walk by? I don't understand your first pass. – Double AA May 30 '18 at 19:15
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    @DoubleAA first of all I don't think it is clear cut. Second, I think that many businesses use video surveillance but have no one behind the camera. They will only pull out the tapes in case there is a security event (e.g., break-in, complaint). As such, the probability of having someone view the tape might be much lower than an open window. Compare with a window open to the street but very few people come by (e.g., at night). Not sure if yichud would be allowed. – mbloch May 31 '18 at 3:40

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