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    Many people employ
    non-Jewish domestic
    help, and many
    halachic issues arise
    regarding this. We
    will deal with select
    areas, as this matter is
    a very large issue. It is
    beyond the scope of
    this article to discuss
    a live-in maid as it relates to Shabbos.
    Davening in Front of a Religious
    It is forbidden to bow during Shemoneh
    Esrei towards a religious symbol, so one
    must be aware of the presence of the
    cleaning help if he davens at home.1
    Checking Vegetables
    It is routine to ask the cleaning help
    to help in the preparation of foods,
    especially before Yom Tov. Checking
    vegetables for insects can be a long and
    bothersome task. However, a non-Jew
    cannot be trusted to check vegetables.
    Leaving a Non-Jewish Woman Alone in
    Your Home – Leaving Pots Unwatched

    Although Jews have employed non-
    Jewish domestic help for centuries,

    today’s lifestyle creates numerous
    challenges. Jewish women used to stay
    at home. Today, many of them work, and
    are out of the home for the better part of
    the day. This raises halachic concerns of
    leaving a non-Jewish cleaning woman
    in the home all day with the pots and
    pans. The halachah is clear that one is
    not allowed to leave a non-Jew alone
    in his home because the non-Jew may
    cook non-kosher products in the kosher
    utensils. If the non-Jew had access to the

    utensils, one would have to wait twenty-
    four hours before using them. Others

    are not concerned, since our utensils are
    placed in cabinets in an orderly fashion,
    and it would be obvious if the pots were
    Regarding food that is cooking on the
    fire, the halachah states that if one is not
    “going and coming” (yotzei v’nichnas)
    from his home6 then he should not leave
    it alone with the non-Jew. The concern

    is that the non-Jew will add some non-
    kosher ingredients to the dish in order to

    improve its taste.
    If the Jew serves lunch to the non-Jew,
    then there is no concern of a non-Jew

    using the pots.
    It is a good idea to be present when the
    non-Jew washes the dishes in order to
    make sure that she does not mix the meat
    and dairy together in the same sink (or
    use the same sponge for both).
    Some poskim say that if the non-Jew has
    cooking responsibilities in the home,
    then one must lock up the dishes if she is
    left alone in the home.
    In a situation where one does not have
    any dairy products in the home that the
    cleaning lady might cook with her meat,
    then he does not have to be concerned
    about leaving the pots.
    Leaving a Non-Jew Alone in One’s
    All too often, both spouses work all day,
    and have the practice of leaving a cleaning
    lady or a repairman alone in the home.
    There is a possibility that the non-Jewish
    worker will take a kosher product in the
    home and switch it for a non-kosher
    food. Is this a real concern? If so, what are
    the ways to avoid this?
    “Yotzei V’nichnas” (Going and
    One option to allow a non-Jew to remain
    alone in the home (or store) is to “go and
    come” from the home; this is known in
    halachah as yotzei v’nichnas. This is
    permitted even l’chatchilah. Even a child
    may be used for the purpose, provided
    that he is old enough that the non-Jew
    is afraid to tamper with anything in his
    presence. Nine years old is sufficient.
    This option applies even if the owner
    stays away for an extended period of
    time, as long as the worker is not aware
    of the owner’s schedule. The worker
    is afraid to make an exchange, as he is
    concerned that the owner might return at
    any moment and catch him in the act. If
    you tell your worker, “I will be back in a
    number of hours,” then it is prohibited to
    leave a non-Jewish worker in the home,
    since the worker knows when the owner
    is returning and might switch the food.
    However, as mentioned below, if one is
    not concerned that the worker has any
    benefit from switching the food, it is
    permitted to leave the worker alone.
    This option does not apply if the worker
    can lock the door, since he has no concern
    of being caught. If the Jew has a key, then
    the non-Jew may be left alone since the

    Jew can enter the
    home. If the non-Jew
    does not realize that
    the owner left then
    it is permitted,23
    since he does not
    realize that he is
    alone in the home.
    In any case, if the
    non-Jew shows signs
    of not being afraid
    of you (i.e. does not
    listen to you), then
    he cannot be trusted
    alone in the home. If
    a security camera is
    installed in the home
    and the non-Jew
    knows you can look at it at any time, then
    he may be left alone in the home.
    What Constitutes Yotzei V’nichnas

    The l’chatchilah situation to leave a non-
    Jew in the home or store is when the

    Jew will be returning within eighteen
    minutes. Good Practice
    To avoid problems of a non-Jewish worker
    using your pots, she should be instructed
    from the onset that non-kosher food may
    not be brought into your home.
    Some suggest placing a camera in the
    kitchen where one can tell if she used
    your kitchen to cook.
    Bishul Akum
    Food that was cooked by a non-Jew is
    forbidden, even if the ingredients are
    kosher (bishul akum). However, this
    is only true if it is inedible raw and it is
    a dish that would be served on a king’s
    table. The reason for this decree is to
    avoid socializing with non-Jews, which
    might lead to intermarriage.
    An interesting question arises in regard
    to a microwave oven and how it relates to
    bishul akum.
    If a microwave oven is just used to
    warm up food, then there is no concern
    of bishul akum. The question arises
    concerning cooking food in a microwave
    oven, as it does not use heat to cook the
    food. The consensus of the poskim is to
    be stringent. Since a microwave can be
    used to cook food, it is comparable to a
    regular oven. Many times a non-Jewish
    woman is left at home and it is possible
    that she may cook food for the children.

    Parenthetically, it is not a good idea to
    leave a non-Jew at home without anyone
    entering from time to time, since they
    may prepare non-kosher in your home.
    Some say that if a non-Jewish maid
    cooks in a Jew’s house then the concern
    of intermarriage is diminished and the
    cooking is permitted, while others forbid
    the food even bedi’eved. If the non-Jew is
    hired by the Jew (and all the actions are
    dictated by the Jew), there are grounds
    to be lenient. Although some say this is
    only bedi’eved, we can rely on the lenient
    opinion in regard to this issue since we
    can assume that the Jew will ultimately
    do something to adjust the fire (this
    relaxes the problem of bishul akum). In
    addition, we can also apply the opinion
    that in a Jew’s home there is no concern
    of intermarriage.41 Although we do not
    follow this opinion as halachah l’ma’aseh,
    we can use it as a sniff (additional point
    to give a heter).
    Halachic Status of Today’s Workers
    With modern work rules, the domestic
    cannot be defined as dictated by the Jew,
    since the worker can quit at any time, and
    only works for us for a short part of the
    day. In addition, our modern ovens need
    little adjusting, and the chance that the Jew
    will adjust the fire is minimal. However,
    in pressing situations or in a situation of
    a great loss, one can be lenient bedi’eved.
    Another possible option is to set the oven
    on a timer and let the non-Jew put the
    food in the oven. This is permitted since
    the Jew “turned on the fire.”
    Old or Sick Person
    Elderly and ill people hire help for
    household chores and food preparation.
    The opinion of the poskim is that just

    as a non-Jew is not
    allowed to cook for
    a healthy person, he
    may not cook for a sick
    person even during
    the week(whether

    food cooked by a non-
    Jew on Shabbos is

    permitted for the sick
    person or a healthy person on Motza’ei
    Shabbos is a different dispute among the
    poskim. In addition, there is a dispute if
    the utensils require kashering).
    This is based on the halachah that a sick
    person who is not in danger may not eat
    an issur d’Rabbanan.
    However, based on the above discussion
    regarding household help, we can rely
    on the lenient opinion since it is cooked
    in the Jew’s home, and it is a pressing
    situation since there is no one else who
    can cook for the person. If the food is
    already cooked, and the non-Jewish
    help is just re-warming the food, it is
    Praising a Non-Jew
    The Torah tells us that it is forbidden
    to show certain favors to non-Jews (lo
    sichaneim). If a non-Jewish worker has
    performed a job, one is allowed to tip. This
    is because tipping is merely considered a
    nice gesture, and has nothing to do with
    lo sichaneim. Therefore, it is permitted to
    tip a waiter or a cab driver. If one was not
    treated properly, there is no need to give
    a tip. It is unusual to receive poor service,
    so one may assume that if he feels that he
    was treated improperly too often, it may
    be that his expectations are too high. It
    is permitted to thank a worker after he
    has finished a specific job. It is permitted
    to praise and even give gifts to domestic
    help, as this will encourage the worker
    to do a better job of maintaining the
    cleanliness of your home.
    Benefiting from a Woman
    A man is not allowed to benefit from
    the assistance of a woman other than his
    wife or very close relative (i.e. mother).
    This issur includes being served drinks,
    making his bed, or washing his face,
    feet and hands. If his wife is present, a
    different woman may serve him.
    It is permitted for a woman to serve her
    guests, since it is being done as hachnasas
    orchim and not affection. The custom is
    to permit a maid to serve a man since

    this usually does not cause inappropriate
    An older person may have a woman assist
    him with things he cannot do himself due
    to his condition. This is permitted since
    he is weak and sick and will not have
    improper thoughts about her.
    Using Expressions of Affection
    Many domestics come for a few days a
    week, or even worse, live in the home. One
    has to be careful how he communicates
    with the cleaning help. One should avoid

    saying “hi” to a woman, because it is an
    expression which is only used by intimate
    friends. However, saying “hello” would be
    The most common question that arises
    regarding cleaning help is how to avoid
    the issur of yichud. Many times when
    one is off from yeshivah or home from
    work he is left alone with the cleaning
    lady. How do we avoid yichud in these
    situations? We cannot do the halachos of
    yichud justice in this article, but we will
    discuss how they apply to our situation.
    It should be noted that the prohibition of
    yichud with a single non-Jewish woman
    is d’Rabbanan, while there is debate
    regarding the status of the prohibition
    of yichud with a married non-Jewish
    woman. In any case, one may not take this
    issur lightly. Our discussion is limited to
    a non-Jew, as the halachah relating to a
    Jewish woman is more severe.
    Wife with You – in City

    If the wife is in the house, even if she is in
    a different area, there is no issur of yichud.
    There are some poskim who contend that
    even if the wife is in the city it would
    suffice to avoid any issue of yichud. This
    would not help if the husband and the
    cleaning lady are on “close” terms.
    Husband (of Cleaning Help) in City
    In general, there is no issur of yichud if
    the woman’s husband is in the city, as she
    is scared to do any forbidden action since
    he can arrive at any moment. This does

    not apply to a cleaning lady, since she
    knows that her husband will not enter her
    employer’s home. Nevertheless, since the
    issur is a d’Rabbanan, one can be lenient
    if they are not on close terms. This only
    works if her husband is definitely in the
    city and did not travel elsewhere.
    Door Open
    A common way to avoid the issur
    of yichud is to leave the door to
    the home entirely open.73 This
    way people can see from outside if
    anything would happen between the
    male and the cleaning lady. This only
    helps if the entire area is visible, but if
    there is an area which is hidden from
    view from the open door this would
    not be a viable heter. The same applies
    to a window in front of the home with
    completely open shades.
    Door Closed but Not Locked
    For obvious reasons, people do not
    want to keep the door open to the
    public. Is it acceptable to keep the

    door closed but not locked?
    If someone can enter at any given time
    without permission, such as a family
    member, and it happens that they do
    come in unannounced, it is permitted.
    Even if people do not actually enter, one
    can be lenient in regards to a non-Jewish
    cleaning lady, as long as a family member
    has the ability to enter. Even then, one
    must remain in an area where family
    members frequent, such as a dining room
    area. It is not acceptable to be alone in a
    It is important to point out that these
    heterim only apply to the daytime hours
    and not to night hours. Today, this
    would be until about ten o’clock in the
    evening in a busy area. One should use
    his judgment based upon location. The
    reason for this is that it is uncommon for
    outsiders to frequent one’s home during
    the night hours.
    Some people have security cameras
    in various areas of their home. At first
    this may seem like a viable heter since
    the recording is checked from time to
    time. However, since there are sections
    in the home without a camera, such
    as the bathrooms, this would not be an
    acceptable loophole regarding the issur
    of yichud.
    Paying Workers on Time
    In order to avoid problems of paying a
    worker late, one should have the wages
    ready before he hires the worker. One
    who will be leaving the house while the
    cleaning help is still working should leave
    money with someone who is in the house
    in order to pay her on time.