Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Many religiously observant men I've met, irrespective of their 'edah (cultural persuasion, e.g. Ashkenazi, Sefaradi, Teimani), have shaken my hand more loosely than secular or Gentile men (who generally tend toward a firmer handshake in my experience).

Is there a halakhic/hashqafic reasoning/source behind this?

Social/comedic sources giving anecdotal evidence to the trend:

share|improve this question
I'm unaware of specific halachic discussion regarding shaking hands with another person, providing the other is the same gender. I notice that many sefardim do a gentle hand "touch" and kiss their hands. I don't know the origin of this custom. Several years ago, when there was an outbreak of the H1 Flu virus in the U.S., several rabbanim issued "decrees" that NO ONE should shake hands with anyone to avoid spreading the virus. Personally, I minimize shaking hands because I'm germaphobic. – DanF Jun 9 '14 at 15:47
I've noticed this too. I just assumed it was because Jews shake hands so often in shul that it has become a casual cultural thing, while non-Jews use it mostly in business where it becomes a functional business tool. – Bachrach44 Jun 9 '14 at 15:53
Those sources were hilarious. – Scimonster Jun 9 '14 at 18:50
In the broader world, handshaking is confined mostly to a business environment or when meeting someone new or someone that you haven't seen in a while. Most people are taught to look someone in the eye and give them a firm handshake. However, many religious Jews are accustomed to shaking hands with far greater frequency, especially on Shabbos or after being given any honor (such as an aliya). Thus, handshaking has become perfunctory and highly repetitive for many religious Jews, and this seems to be a likely sociological cause for the increased proportional incidence of limp handshakes. – Fred Jun 10 '14 at 21:13
...Additionally, despite the claim in the OP that many religious Jews give limp handshakes, in my experience most religious Jews still give firm handshakes. (I'm not posting the above comment as an answer, because it's essentially just speculation). – Fred Jun 10 '14 at 21:16

The sentiment and intent behind the 'power hand shake' is (or should be) foreign to a jew. We who are forbidden to walk with a haughty gait, bikoma zekufa, don't squeeze the blood out of the hand of the person we are greeting as a ploy to seem powerful and assertive.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.