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What is the level of the issur on mixed dancing? Minhag? D'Rabanan, D'oraita, etc.?

What about separate dancing but without a mehitza?

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related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/9480/759 –  Double AA Jul 30 '12 at 4:27
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even more related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8017/759 –  Double AA Jul 30 '12 at 4:33
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ask your rav... –  Charles Koppelman Jul 30 '12 at 13:58
    
@DoubleAA Dupe? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/9480/5 –  Seth J Aug 27 '12 at 20:30

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to R' Gil Student, touching affectionately during a slow dance would be forbidden biblically (according to the Rambam) or rabbinicaly (according to the Ramban).

He says that there is also a ban on mixed dancing (even without touching) going back to the Maharam miRottenburg, and he says that R' Yehuda Henkin says that this ban is still in place he says that the fact that there is a ban is no proof that it would have been permitted without one, as many bans from the Rishonim's times were bans which re-banned already existing prohibitions).

He also mentions a Sdei Chemed that one is not even allowed to be present where women are dancing.

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Touching whom affectionately? Your daughter? A penuya tehora? Your friend's wife? –  Double AA Jul 30 '12 at 21:52
    
@doubleAA I think he is assuming a random adult pnuya, though the last point would still kick in (unless you are dancing with your wife at home behind shutters) –  Shmuel Brin Jul 30 '12 at 21:53
    
It seems he clarifies that the issur in the first sentance is when the woman is a Niddah. (It would be safe to say that an eshet ish tehora is also included.) –  Double AA Jul 30 '12 at 21:55
    
@DoubleAA he doesn't say if that's the reason for the ban of the Rishonim –  Shmuel Brin Jul 30 '12 at 22:38
    
I think the first reason he gives (Niddah) is referring to his situation of driving an unmarried girl to the dance. Since she hasn't gone to the Mikvah, she is a Niddah, and the argument of the Ramban and Rambam apply. The second reason he gives (the various bans) are not talking about Niddah, but other problems of affectionate touching, pritzut, or the like. The second reason would apply across the board. @DoubleAA –  Menachem Jul 30 '12 at 23:09

Dancing with one's spouse in public when they could touch each other in private: ill-advised. Shulchan Aruch warns against excess physical affection with one's wife in public. (In "Fiddler on the Roof", Tevye demands that the rabbi rule whether it is absolutely forbidden, and the rabbi hesitates; it's a "shouldn't." Some measure of privacy is called for in a healthy marriage.)

Or to quote Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman (as heard from Rabbi Rakeffet):

The Chumash ends with l'eini kol yisrael. Something can be permitted, but if done in front of the whole Jewish people, that's the end of the Torah!

Dancing with one's spouse at a time in the month when they're prohibited from touching each other -- prohibited. If the touch is "affectionate", it would be lo tikrevu legalot erva -- "don't even come close to prohibited relations"; the Rishonim debate whether that's a Biblical prohibition or a rabbinic one hinted by the verse. As for what's called "affectionate" touch ... well it depends what's called affectionate, and what's called dancing, I guess. (See Rabbi Henkin's essay for one Acharon who prohibited mixed dancing "as it may lead to affectionate touch.")

Having a big dance event for married couples -- ill-advised; on a given day, let's say a third of your couples are prohibited from dancing. Either they sit it out and it's giving away far too much private information (not to mention making them feel awful), or they feel pressured into doing something prohibited.

Dancing with someone else's spouse, or any single woman (who is presumed to be a nida) other than an immediate relative -- prohibited as above.

The mechitza -- serves two functions. One is to remind people to keep the dancing separate. (Again, just a matter of good policy, to the best of my knowledge; see Rabbi Henkin's essay for more discussion on when a mechitza is needed.) Also a matter of good policy; avoids "creepy guys staring at the women as they're dancing." If you're asking if an opaque mechitza is absolutely necessary because it's prohibited to watch the other side, well, there's watching and then there's watching.

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It is forbidden because it is not richuk nashim but rather kiruv nashim. Source: "צריך אדם להתרחק מן הנשים מאד מאד.‏"‎ (from שולחן ערוך אבן העזר ‎21:1)

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But this doesn't answer the question of what the level is of the issur. It just states that it is prohibited –  Daniel Jul 30 '12 at 17:23

Minhag,

There is no issur against a married couple dancing together. And you will find in the Talmud that on Yom Kippur and TuB'Av, men would watch unmarried women dance to pick for themselves a bride. There is also no explicit issur against mixed dancing or activity in the Talmud at all, save in reference to the Beit Hamikdash. It therefore can not be a D'Rabanan or a D'Oreita.

Of course given the 'dangers' you will find a full gamut of opinions ranging from minhag to this is Asur of the worst kind from the Torah. However those who say it is Asur D'oraityah bring side off proofs like "listening to "the Rabbis"" (though many rabbis allow it), or "Lifnei Ever" and never bring any source for the actual prohibition of mixed dancing. It should also be recognized that if you aren't allowed to touch them you can't dance with them.

There is a story of the Bosterner Rebbe:

I was present at the wedding of one of the list members more than 20 years ago. Near the end, the bride and bridgegroom were dancing holding a handkerchief, and the Bostoner Rebbe (who was m'sader kiddushin) came in and removed the handkerchief, so that they could dance together.

R. Enkin specifically allows it for married people.

In 1960 in England it was common for men and women to dance together. Rabbis from outside the community wished to impose their view on the topic and it created a big scandal. You can see the documentation here. Local Rabbis, and Rabbis who knew the community allowed the mixed dancing even for singles.

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I don't see how it contradicts it at all. Please explain. Further, just becuase somebody claims something, doesn't really mean anything if there is no proof to that fact. You will not find anywhere a statement in the Torah, Tanach or Talmud that it is forbidden to have mixed dancing, outside of the Temple. –  avi Jul 30 '12 at 7:00
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People also claim it's Assur Min Hatorah to be on the internet. –  avi Jul 30 '12 at 7:01
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Re "I don't see how it contradicts it at all": your last sentence claims some people are prohibited to dance together; your first says it's only a minhag. Since your entire answer seems to be contrasting prohibitions with minhag, that makes a contradiction. –  msh210 Jul 30 '12 at 7:06
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@avi This seems like a very convoluted way of saying: if you can touch them you can dance with them. –  Double AA Jul 30 '12 at 7:29
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@avi I think you mean R. Henkin (not Enkin). Also, I think this answer is very misleading, because even the opinions you cite only allow mixed dancing of married couples, not mixed dancing in general - and 99.9% of the mixed dancing I've seen did not exclusively involve married couples, so I think it's very misleading to start off like that and just say "minhag." –  Dov F Jul 30 '12 at 15:50

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