There seems to be a custom that men hug (cheek kiss) each other when they greet each other (especially if they did not see each other for a long time).
Are Jews permitted to do so? (does it matter if they are single?)

The idea that it might be forbidden came from these sources:

Shulchan Aruch 20:1

הבא על אחת מן העריות דרך איברים או שחבק ונשק ונהנה בקירוב בשר הרי זה לוקה וחשוד על העריות:
...or he hugged and kissed (one of the people with whom sexual relations are forbidden) or had pleasure from the nearness of the flesh, he receives lashes....

Shulchan Aruch 21:7

המחבק או המנשק אחת מהעריות שאין לבו של אדם נוקפו עליהם כגון אחותו הגדולה ואחות אביו וכיוצא בהם אע"פ שאין לו שום הנאה כלל הרי זה מגונה ביותר ודבר איסור הוא ומעשה טפשים שאין קרבים לערוה כלל בין גדולה בין קטנה חוץ מהאב לבתו ומהאם לבנה
To hug or kiss one of the arayos whom people do not normally lust after, such as his adult sister or his aunt or similar, even though he derives no pleasure at all, is very reprehensible, forbidden, and the act of a fool. This is because we do not come close to arayos at all, whether (female) adult or minor, except the father to his daughter and the mother to her son.

Aruch Hashulchan 20:18

כן אסור לאיש להתחכך לאיש באיבריו דרך תאוה
It is also forbidden for a man to rub another man on his limbs in a lustful way

Beer Haitiv 24:1

surely a single man must stay away from to sleeping together (on the same bed) with another single man (in privacy), and this behavior should be protested against

kissing might only be a problem if on the lips so this question is mainly regarding hugging
Rabainu Bechaya 29:11 (Ramban 29:9)

(Regarding how was it permit for Yaakov to kiss Rochel) she was a child (under 3 years old) who can not have relations... or we can say that this kiss was on the head or the shoulder, since the Scripture did not say "on her mouth" (Ibn Ezra)

  • Keep reading to Siman 24 – Double AA Jul 31 '19 at 11:21
  • Possibly part of an answer וַיִּשַּׁק יַעֲקֹב לְרָחֵל, כָּל נְשִׁיקָה לְתִפְלוּת בַּר מִן תְּלַת, נְשִׁיקָה שֶׁל גְּדֻלָּה, נְשִׁיקָה שֶׁל פְּרָקִים, נְשִׁיקָה שֶׁל פְּרִישׁוּת. sefaria.org/Bereishit_Rabbah.70.12 – hazoriz Jul 31 '19 at 16:37

שמואל א כ מא

הַנַּעַר֮ בָּא֒ וְדָוִ֗ד קָ֚ם מֵאֵ֣צֶל הַנֶּ֔גֶב וַיִּפֹּ֨ל לְאַפָּ֥יו אַ֛רְצָה וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ שָׁלֹ֣שׁ פְּעָמִ֑ים וַֽיִּשְּׁק֣וּ ׀ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֗הוּ וַיִּבְכּוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֔הוּ עַד־דָּוִ֖ד הִגְדִּֽיל׃

Shmuel A 20 41

When the boy got there, David emerged from his concealment at the Negeb. He flung himself face down on the ground and bowed low three times. They kissed each other and wept together; David wept the longer.

I do agree it probably wasn't a kiss on the mouth, though.

Especially for people that prefer Gemara prove over Tanach:

משנה ראש השנה ב ט

...עמד רבן גמליאל ונשקו על ראשו (של רבי יהושע), אמר לו: בוא בשלום, רבי ותלמידי, רבי בחכמה, ותלמידי שקיבלת את דברי.

Raban Gamliel stood and kissed him (R' Yehoshua) on his head and told him my teacher and student, my teacher in wisdom, and my student for listening to my commands.

BTW, I do think that Yaakov kiss to Rachel was on the mouth, and it was romantic.

  • A very good example, but we never learn Halacha from scriptures. You can't bring mikra over Shu"A. That's why I asked the OP to remove the quotes. – Al Berko Jul 31 '19 at 12:51
  • 5
    @AlBerko Your comment isn't so simple. For example, are you suggesting that the Shulchan Aruch is over-ruling the Written Torah? The Beit Yosef wouldn't make such a claim. Rather, we rely upon the Sages to teach us (most of the time) how to properly understand the text of the Written Torah. – Yaacov Deane Jul 31 '19 at 13:02
  • @AlBerko I've added Mishna source. – Alaychem goes to Codidact Jul 31 '19 at 13:12
  • The Mishnah source says "head". How does that become proof that Ya'akov kissed Rachel on the mouth and it was romantic? – DanF Jul 31 '19 at 13:38
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    your BTW is going against Ibn Ezra, Ramban, and Rabinu B'chaya. do you have an answer for this?judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/22432/yaakov-kissing-rachel – hazoriz Jul 31 '19 at 14:01

In the literal sense of the word, a guy hugging or kissing a guy is technically "homosexual" behavior, since it involves two people of the same sex.

However we need to look at the intent of the hugging or kissing. According to Torah Law, male-male contact is only permitted if it doesn't have any sexual undertones. If it was for lustful pleasurable reasons, then it would be prohibited.

This is indicated in the Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha'ezer 20:1) cited in the OP.

הבא על אחת מן העריות דרך איברים או שחבק ונשק ונהנה בקירוב בשר הרי זה לוקה וחשוד על העריות:

...or he hugged and kissed (one of the people with whom sexual relations are forbidden) or had pleasure from the nearness of the flesh, he receives lashes....

While only male-male anal sex is a capital crime (Vayikra 20:13), nevertheless any male-male contact that has sexual undertones is prohibited as an accessory to the sin (אביזרייהו דגילוי עריות).

  • 1
    He knows this. He's asking how hugging a friend is different from hugging an aunt where the same logic applies. – Double AA Jul 31 '19 at 17:27
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    This is not immediately obvious from reading the heading of the question, or the OP itself. If that was his intent, then it needs some serious editing. – IsraelReader Jul 31 '19 at 17:59
  • 1
    I don't disagree – Double AA Jul 31 '19 at 20:46

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