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Yichud: Bride and Groom Retreat for Alone Time
An Orthodox Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

Immediately after the ceremony and just before the wedding reception begins to swirl around the new couple, they share a few minutes alone – away from the bright lights and music. Yichud, literally meaning, becoming one, is the first time halachically the new husband and wife can be completely alone with each other.

An unrelated woman and man should not remain alone behind locked doors. After the ceremony, spending time alone, in a room of their own, signifies their new status as a married couple.

Yichud takes place when the couple, and only the couple, are alone in a room. Witnesses ascertain the room’s emptiness before the couple enters and then stand guard to ensure the couple’s privacy.

For couples who have fasted until the ceremony, Yichud is breaking of the fast time. Eastern European couples feasted on the easy-to-digest, nutritious, satisfying cure all: chicken soup. Its golden hue was said to portend a prosperous marriage. Honey and cheese or eggs and chicken are other customary yichud room treats.

There’s a tradition, practiced by some Chassidic Jews, for the newlyweds to step over a silver spoon as they enter the yichud room. In other communities, the husband waits for his wife’s permission before crossing the threshold.

Getting the couple out of the Yichud room isn’t easy. It helps to know the customary length of Yichud retreat is the time it takes to fry an egg and eat it. (Kaplan, 207)

Generally, Yichud is not part of the Sephardic tradition.


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