This article is an excerpt from our Sefer
9. Privacy – The law if there are other people in the room:
Person is awake: It is forbidden to have relations in front of any human, even a child [or slave], who is awake and is old enough to talk. [This applies even at night and if the room is pitch black. This prohibition applies even if the person will not know that the couple is having relations.]
The law if there is a Mechitza between the awake individual and the couple: The above prohibition applies even if one places a Mechitzah that is ten Tefachim high between them. [Some Poskim imply that this applies even if the person will not know that the couple is having relations. Other Poskim, however, rule that it is permitted for the couple to have relations if there is a Kosher Mechitza in front of them and it will not be noticeable to the person there that the couple is having relations. Practically, one may be lenient if he makes a Mechitzah. The Mechitza is to be ten Tefachim high, which is 80 centimeters, and 4 Tefachim wide, which is 32 centimeters. It is to be strong enough so that a common wind cannot knock it down. Thus, if a sheet is used, it must be strongly attached by all its corners. It is forbidden for one to make such a Mechitza on Shabbos, although one may add to an already existing Mechitza.]
The law if the person is sleeping: If the person is sleeping, then one may have relations in the same room. [Some Poskim, however, imply that this only applies if there is a Mechitza. Practically, Lechatchila it is proper to make a Mechitzah, although from the letter of the law it is permitted even without a Mechitza.]
The law if a child is in the room: It is forbidden to have relations in front of a child who is awake and is old enough to talk. [This applies even if he does not understand what the parents are doing, but can repeat what his eyes saw.] If the child is not yet able to talk [enough words to describe the actions of the parents], then one may have relations in that child’s presence. [However, if the child knows how to talk, but does not do so due to weakness or shyness, then it is forbidden to have relations in his presence. Furthermore, even if the child is an infant and cannot talk, it is Midas Chassidus to abstain from having intimacy with the child in the room, if he is still awake. If, however, the child is sleeping, then it is permitted without restriction, as stated above, and even a Mechitza is not necessary. Furthermore, by a baby one may be lenient even if it is only a doubt as to whether he is asleep. Likewise, if the child refuses to go to sleep and lack of intimacy can lead to Zera Levatala, then one is to have intercourse, if the child is not yet able to talk, and is not to be stringent even due to the Midas Chassidus. Likewise, if there is a Mechitza in front of the child, there is no need to be stringent even due to Midas Chassidus, if the child is not yet able to talk, even if he is awake.]
May a couple have relations in the presence of a Shoteh [imbecile]?
Some Poskim question if one may have intercourse in the presence of an imbecile, and lean towards permitting doing so.
May a couple have relations in a room if people outside will know what they are doing?
Yes. The prohibition only applies if there is someone in their actual room. Nonetheless, they are to try to be as inconspicuous as possible.
Midas Chassidus – Living creatures in room:
From the letter of the law, it is permitted to have intercourse in front of living creatures, such as birds, animal pets, and insects. However, it is an act of piety to not have relations in front of any creature, even a fly. The Talmud states that Abayey would brush away flies from the bed prior to intercourse. Likewise, many sages avoided intercourse in front of rats. This applies even at night and in a dark room. The spiritual reason for why this is done is in order to emphasize one’s absolute nullification during his time of intimacy, and that he is not even like the smallest creature. [Nonetheless, certainly one may not nullify his Onah obligations due to this act of piety.]
The reason that privacy is required during intimacy:
Originally, Adam and Chava had intimacy in front of other creatures and this caused the jealousy of the Nachash, and was the cause of the sin of the tree of knowledge. Hence, from then onwards we must be careful to hide the intimacy from all creatures, so the eyes of jealousy do not shine on it.
 Michaber O.C. 240:6; E.H. 25:2, “One may not have relations in front of any human species, even a child, unless the child does not know how to talk”; Tur 240:6; Niddah 17b; See Siddur Ya’avetz Mosach Hashabbos Mitos Kesef 7 Chulya 3:7; Kitzur SHU”A 150:4; Taharas Yisrael 240:41-43; Piskeiy Teshuvos 240:16; Sheyikadesh Atzmo [Nachmonson-2015] p. 311-316
 Chelkas Mechokeik 25:3; Beis Shmuel 25:4
 Elya Raba 240:13; Kaf Hachaim 240:43
 Elya Raba 240:13; Olas Tamid 240:3; See Kaf Hachaim 240:42
 Michaber O.C. ibid; Tur 240; Taz 25:1; Beis Shmuel 25:4; Siddur Ya’avetz ibid
 The reason: As the person can tell what they are doing and it is therefore not Tznius. [Taz ibid; M”B 240:22]
 Implication of Elya Raba 240:13; Olas Tamid 240:3; See Kaf Hachaim 240:42
 Taz E.H. 25:1; Chochmas Adam 128:5, brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid; M”B 240:22; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 24:2; that a Mechitza helps if the person is unaware of their intimacy
 Taz ibid
 Shiureiy Torah 3:29
Should one follow Tefach Sochakos in this regard which would make it 82 cm? See Shiureiy Torah p. 249 that an Ama Sochekes is 49 cm., and accordingly a Tefach Sochakos is 8.17 cm [i.e. 1/48 of a cm times 8.] and by the Shiur Sukkah of 7×7 one should measure with an Ama Sochakos, Vetzaruch Iyun if the same would apply here Lechumra even though it is only Rabbinical. If so, then its exact Shiur is 81.7 cm; See also M”B 633:2 and Sha’ar Hatziyon 633:2 that by Sukkah we follow the stringent approach in the dimensions, either Dochakos or Sochakos, and by the 7×7 dimension we follow Sochakos, and the same would apply here by the ten Tefachim dimension; See also Midos Vishureiy Torah pp. 48-57 regarding Ama Sochakos and Dochakos and when it applies; Piskeiy Teshuvos 633:1; Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 325 who rules that by Tefachim we don’t apply the extra Dochakos or Sochakos, and this is only done by Amos.
Other opinions – Chazon Ish: According to the Chazon Ish, the measurement is 98.2 cm following the 9.82 measurement of Tefach Sochakos. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]
 P”M 315 A”A 3; Chayeh Adam 3:17; SSH”K 24:34
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the Mechitza is required to be four Amos wide [i.e. 196 centimeters]. [Kaf Hachaim 240:44]
The law when using already established furniture as a Mechitza: The above minimum width is only when one intentionally sets up a Mechitza in the room for the sake of permitting Tashmish. If, however, one desires to use an already established Mechitza, such as a piece of furniture, then it is only valid if it goes from wall to wall. [See Admur 87:4]
 Admur 315:3
 Sheyikadesh Atzmo 24:2
 Admur 315:3 and 5; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 24:6
 Beis Shmuel 25:4; Elya Raba 240:13; Olas Tamid 240:3; Siddur Ya’avetz; Chochmas Adam 128:5; Kaf Hachaim 240:42
 Implication of Beis Shmuel 25:4 who bases the allowance of sleeping on Taz 25:1 that a Mechitza helps if the person is unaware of their intimacy
 Biur Halacha 240:13 “Nei’ur”
 Michaber ibid; Tur 240 in name of Ra’avad; Siddur Ya’avetz ibid
 Aruch Hashulchan 240:11
 See Aruch Hashulchan ibid
 The reason: As a child who does not yet know how to talk is considered like an animal. [Kaf Hachaim 240:43]
 Elya Raba 240:13; Olas Tamid 240:3; Kaf Hachaim 240:42
 Elya Raba 240:13 and 24 based on all sources recorded next regarding Midas Chassidus to not do so even in front of flies, and based on Zohar Vayikra which implies as such; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Ashel Avraham Butchach Tinyana 240:6; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 24:5
 Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 24:5
 Elya Raba 240:13; Olas Tamid 240:3; Kaf Hachaim 240:42
 Salmas Chaim 231 or Hilchos Tzenius 109; Piskeiy Teshuvos 240:16 footnote 103 that the prohibition only applies when people will be aware of the intercourse exactly when it is taking place, and not simply that they are aware that it will take place sometime; So is evident from all Yichud rooms which are fit for Biyah; See Niddah 17a that according to Rashi, Raba Bar Rav Huna would shake the bells of his canopy prior to intercourse so his family members can distance themselves, and see Tosafos there who questions this as being not Tzenius; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 22:5 footnote 5
 Tur 240:6 and E.H. 25:2; Elya Raba 240:13; Olas Tamid 240:3; Kaf Hachaim 240:42; Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai in Niddah 16b, “There are four things that G-d hates and I dislike… one who has intercourse before a creature.”; Siddur Ya’avetz Mosach Hashabbos Mitos Kesef 7 Chulya 3:7; Sheyikadesh Atzmo [Nachmanson-2015] p. 321-324
 Tur ibid; Shmuel in Niddah ibid
 Niddah 17a
 See Rav Yehuda in Niddah ibid
 Tzava’as Harivash 101; See Sheyikadesh Atzmo 26 footnote 2 at length
 Siddur Ya’avetz Mosach Hashabbos Mitos Kesef Chulya Gimel 7:18
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