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20

There's a prohibition against touching any member of the opposite gender other than your spouse or close relatives. Many opinions say that's only "affectionate" touching, "such as hugging and kissing." Others say no, it includes all touching. (Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin, in Hakira Journal, discusses these opinions and their sources; he strongly believes ...


17

I have heard from my father that my great-grandfather zal, when (in the 1920s) he moved to the States and got a job as rabbi in Canonsburg, Penna., was approached by the women in shul after t'fila Shabas morning with hands outstretched, and promptly acquired the custom of raising his hat.


14

In my and others' experience, the reaction to a refusal to shake hands varies depending on the person, from offense to awkwardness to amusement to respectfulness. Perhaps as tactful as you can get is to do the following: Apologize and explain: "I'm sorry, but religiously, I try to avoid unnecessary contact with women (other than my wife)." No need to go ...


14

I personally saw that my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Azriel Chaim Goldfein ZT"L, a talmid muvhak (close student) of Rav Mordechai Gifter would shake the hand of any woman who extended her hand to him in greeting. I never had the guts to question him on this, but my presumption is that he weighed the prohibition on touching a woman, which is Rabbinic if not sensual ...


12

Interestingly, someone just ask Rav Aviner this same question (well not exactly) earlier this month. Prohibition against Touching Opposite Gender Q: Does the prohibition against touching someone of the opposite gender only apply to their actual body, or does it also apply to touching them through their clothing? A: Both are certainly ...


12

Certainly the literal sight issue is moot. But we'd apply the same principle, he should not marry someone unless he has good reason to believe it will be a happy marriage. A blind man in fact asked this question of Rabbi Yuval Cherlow of Petach Tikva, explaining that he would normally feel a woman's face to determine if she is attractive. Rabbi Cherlow, in ...


12

Aside from simply giving a short explanation as to why you wont shake hands (which itself can cause people to become offended no matter how polite you are about it), there is not much else you can do that isn't deceitful (claiming sickness) or just weird (bowing, accidentally missing). If you are going to follow the ruling that under no circumstances can you ...


11

I am a white male, and I had this happen to me recently, where I met a woman in a business setting who politely told me, "I don't shake hands for religious reasons". I had never heard this before, but it did not faze me in the least. She was polite in every other way that she treated me. No Problem!


10

This is awkward, particularly if you have behaved differently in the past (so people who knew you then will be confused by the change). I would not send pre-emptive email; I don't think it will reduce the face-to-face confusion and it risks seeming to make a mountain out of a mole-hill. You're also going to be leaving early on Fridays, not eating the ...


10

Not a complete answer, but here's what the Talmud (Sanhedrin 22A) says (Rashi brought in נrackets): אמר רב שמן בר אבא בוא וראה כמה קשין גירושין שהרי דוד המלך התירו לו לייחד [עם אבישג ואע"פ שנאסר ייחוד של פנויה] ולא התירו לו לגרש [אחת מי"ח וישאנה]‏ R' Shaman bar Aba said: Come and See how harsh divorce is. They gave permission to King David to be ...


10

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in Igros Moshe Even HaEzer 1:56 did not want to allow shaking hands, even when the other person offers their hand first, as it is likely considered an affectionate act. Hugging, whatever the reason, seems to be much more of an inherently affectionate act, and would be similarly discouraged. Even according to those who would permit ...


8

Once meeting a potential client, the director (female) extended her hand to shake, I quickly pulled a business card from my pocket and gave it to her, it worked but when leaving she wanted to shake my hand again, I simply said I'm sorry and she quickly understood. maybe my black suit and black kipa helped (can't remember if I had my hat also). In any case ...


8

Always assume the person is shomer nagiah until they give you a hand, or you see them touch another person who isn't their spouse. I do this even with non-Jews, because you never know if they don't like to be touched or don't like to touch people. http://isitnormal.com/story/i-dont-like-to-be-touched-29913/ From this summary of the research of touching: ...


7

There is a relatively well known story about the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe zy"a: After the Holocaust the Rebbe remained in the Displaced Persons camps. On erev Yom Kippur a young woman came to him, very upset that, having lost her father she did not have anyone to give her a blessing (while in many places the blessing is given to children every Friday, among ...


7

If I recall correctly, Yichud is okay short-term, but not preferable long-term. Here's the Rambam (Laws of Prohibitions on Relations Ch. 21), I don't know what the other opinions are. כא,ו המחבק אחת מן העריות שאין ליבו של אדם נוקפו עליהן, או שנישק אחת מהן--כגון אחותו הגדולה, ואחות אימו, וכיוצא בהן--אף על פי שאין שם תאווה ולא הנאה כלל, הרי זה מגונה ...


7

I've heard that a certain prominent Rosh Yeshiva flashes a smile and says, "Oh, that's not necessary!" This won't work for all people and in all situations, however. Having a business card ready to hand over (as mentioned by Avraham and Ariel) is a more generally useful idea. Rav Lazer Brody reportedly uses halvah bars, as humorously recounted here.


6

Sometimes giving a smile and saying "I'll take your word for it" works nicely.


5

RS quoted a fascinating Gemara above, however there are a lot of ways it's interpreted. Don't get started on trying to psychologically diagnose "sort of kind of pikuach nefesh", unless you're a trained professional or it's clear this person is a danger to themselves or others (at which point you need to call in the professionals). Let's try and break down ...


4

If you know that you would be in such a situation, inform the woman, who may be trying to shake hands with you, beforehand, to avoid problems. During my service in Israeli army I attended an order where I was supposed to shake hands with one female lieutenant colonel in presence of other high-rank commanders. I informed her about my problem beforehand, and ...


4

I read a book for bale t'shuva (Jews who come to Judaism after some time without it) on how to deal with women's hands at social events and it recommended having a drink in one hand an a plate of herring in the other.


4

There was already an accepted answer, and a very fine one at that. Since I am female, and the individual asking the question is female, I wanted to provide some additional input. This is what I would suggest. If you think there is even the slightest likelihood of one or more persons in a group of people being Shomer Negiah, don't initiate hand shaking with ...


4

See second Tosfos in Sotah 19a (D'H Vkohen Maniach) beginning of Perek Haya Notel, tosfos quotes the Yerushalmi there, which asks how was it permissible for the kohen to place his hands underneath the sotahs hands while doing "tenufa" ie. waving. One answer tosfos gives is because he placed a sheet or napkin between their hands. וכהן מניח את ידו תחתיה. ...


4

I would read the following research paper regarding the effects of touching people. If you feel awkward about saying that it's a religious requirement and leave it at that, then you might want to try to use the findings of the research to explain to people that you do not wish to bias their opinions of you by giving subconscious feelings of connection, ...


3

In my mind, I frame the issue as follows: There's a lot of bad information out there about why the Orthodox won't shake a woman's hand, e.g., they're "unclean", they're not good enough, etc. So the main 2 issues I try to address are, 1) Don't make the woman feel inferior, and 2) Don't make the woman become embarrassed. I have done things like have my hands ...


3

As far as the main issue brought up in the question, "while the poor woman just stands there, not knowing what to do with her outstretched arm.”, before I say anything to the woman, I wave my hand in a downward motion towards their hand. This always accomplishes my main objective to have the woman retract her hand. This works without fail as any person will ...


3

Per Sefer Chassidim 1090, a man should not shake a womans hand even even if the both parties are wearing gloves.


3

First let's clear up the "touch" vs. "hug" business. As has been discussed many times before, some say the prohibition is "any touch whatsoever"; others "only affectionate touch." In some circles I'm shomer negiah means "I follow the stricter opinion and won't even do non-affectionate touch (as opposed to those who do business handshakes)"; in other circles ...



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