Rabbi Meir Mazuz
Rabbi Meir MazuzYaakov Naumi/Flash 90

Rabbi Meir Mazuz, Head of the Kiseh Rachamim Yeshiva, strongly criticized the “yichud room” practice common at traditional Ashkenazi Jewish weddings. In recent years, Sephardi weddings, which do not have that tradition and normally did not have a yichud room, have adopted the custom as well.

The practice sees the bride and groom going into a room together – the “yichud room” in question – immediately following the marriage ceremony, for their first time alone together in private.

The site Kikar Shabbat cited the rabbi as saying that the custom had been forced upon those of Sephardi heritage. “They have forced it on Sephardim to the extent that yeshiva leaders are now saying, ‘If you don’t have a yichud room, I’m not coming to the wedding and neither are your friends.’ This actually happened. It was a Sephardi yeshiva head – not an Ashkenazi one. You can talk to an Ashkenazi about this, but not a Sephardi. He is constrained by what he has received from his rabbis. So what did Rabbi Rafael Cohen of Tzfat do? He brought in other people to celebrate [at the wedding] with the groom."

“Why are you doing this," Rabbi Mazuz asked rhetorically. "Why?”

In addition to the problem of imposing Ashkenazi customs on Jews of Sephardi heritage, Rabbi Mazuz asserted that there as an inherent problem with the notion of “yichud room,” in that it leads to immodesty. “What happens today is that the couple goes into the room, and their friends stand by the door. They [taunt them, saying,] ‘what’s taking you so long? Have you been in there [long enough]?’ What is this madness? Have you gone crazy? This is a disgrace […] It’s forbidden, and not acceptable."

“[This implies that] the sages of Morocco don’t know how to learn, the sages of Babylonia don’t know how to learn, the sages of Tunis don’t know how to learn, only the Ashkenazim know how to learn? On the contrary: We know no less; we need not have yichud room. Furthermore: We need to write on the wedding invitations, ‘there will be no yichud room. Whoever is not comfortable with that doesn’t have to come.”

Therefore, Rabbi Mazuz concluded: “It is a divine command to cancel this custom. May it not be remembered or invoked ever. Even among Ashkenazim.”