Laws of ‘yichud’ still very relevant today
Michele Engelberg, Johannesburg
These laws are not irrelevant, archaic laws. They are as relevant now as they were two thousand years ago. They protect the potential “victim” from being violated and they protect the potentially accused “perpetrator” from being accused of something that he did not do.
If there are only two people secluded in a room together and they both emerge from the room telling different stories of what happened in that room, there is usually no way to verify the story. It is one person’s word against another person’s word. Therefore, avoiding these situations is what the halacha prescribes.
This law applies to a woman not being alone in closed quarters with a man (that she is not related to) whether that man is a rabbi, a doctor, a teacher, etc. (It is my understanding that for the last few years, Dr Levy did hire an additional employee specifically for this purpose of not being alone with patients.)
There may be situations where avoiding solitude with a person of the opposite gender (who is not closely related) is difficult or even unavoidable, but knowing the laws creates an extra level of sensitivity that certain conduct should be vigilantly observed. Boundaries become clearer.