An interesting thought crossed my mind: does shomer negiah specifically only relate to direct, physical contact, or does it additionally extend to cover cases where there is no direct touch?

Though I'd never use this in real life, is poking someone's covered shoulder with a gloved hand in any way violate shomer negiah, as there's no physical skin-on-skin contact involved?

It would seem that this would be assur, but would it be?

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    Negiah is a modern term. If you're looking for parameters of any specific issur, try specifying which one you mean. Lo tikrevu legalot erva? Kiruv Basar? Kalut rosh? Erva? Hirhurim? or something else.
    – Double AA
    Dec 22, 2011 at 7:30
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    The issur of negiah is a halacha in Even HaEzer
    – Chanoch
    Dec 22, 2011 at 23:58
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    @Chanoch Really? Because I cant find the shoresh נגע anywhere in Even HaEzer related to that. You may be referring to Siman 20 where the Mechaber discusses the issur of "Neheneh BeKiruv Basar." I was asking which issur TK was referring to because there can be different nafka minot.
    – Double AA
    Dec 23, 2011 at 9:12
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    @Double AA: I'm sure I saw it before, but when I looked last night I couldn't find it, so I meant to not post that comment until I was sure and could give you a siman and seif. I'm sorry for the confusion.
    – Chanoch
    Dec 23, 2011 at 13:35
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    I think this may shed some light on the matter: myjewishlearning.com/life/Sex_and_Sexuality/Jewish_Approaches/…
    – Chanoch
    Dec 23, 2011 at 13:43

3 Answers 3


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 forbidden! One should stay extremely far away from the opposite gender. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:8-10. How the evil inclination is working overtime!

However, when I was younger, I had a friend who had her "shomer nagiah stick" which she kept in her purse. (though it was really a just a straw) This stick was used for hitting boys who said obnoxious comments, and for poking people to get their attention.

Now, what I really find interesting about R. Aviner's answer, is that he does not cite a source which says that touching through a glove and clothing is actually an issur, but just says to stay away from women in general.

This seems to me to fall under the category of "not shabbostik", but instead of referring to shabbos, referring to shomer nagiah.


Tosfos in Sotah 19a (D'H V'kohen Maniach) quoting the Yerushalmi, asks how was it permissible for the Kohen to place his hands underneath the Sotah's hands while doing "tenufa" ie. waving the offering, when bringing the Minchas Sotah?

One answer Tosfos suggests to justify this is because the Kohen placed a sheet or napkin between his hands and her hands.

וכהן מניח את ידו תחתיה. האי דאיצטריך תו למיתני וכהן מניח את ידו תחתיה ולא קתני בסתם ומכניס את ידו לאשמועינן דתנופה בכהן ירושלמי וכהן מניח את ידו תחתיה ואין הדבר כיעור מניח מפה ואינו חוצץ מביא כהן זקן ואפילו תימא כהן ילד שאין יצר הרע מצויה לשעה.‏

The Munkatcher Rebbe in his notes on the Yerushalmi says that this is the source of the practice of the very righteous, who would place a sheet on the head of the woman asking for a blessing when placing their hands on her head to bless them. However, this can only be relied upon by someone exceedingly righteous.

Basing himself on the above, the Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha (חלק ד קמז-ו) permits a man to help his wife up who may have fallen on ice or snow by pulling her up from her garment, despite her being in Niddah and thus prohibited to touch, as it is not direct skin on skin contact. Certainly one could also use gloves accomplish this as well.

Nevertheless, says the SMB'H that the minhag among G-d fearing Jews is to refrain from contact even where it is not skin on skin contact, as even that answer of Tosfos quoted above is one of three different answers which indicates that it is not the definitive answer, and can only be applied practically in extenuating circumstances.

One may not draw any halachic conclusions from this answer.

  • Excellent answer, would you mind bringing down the Tosafos here? Typically on StackExchange websites, we ask for references in the form of quotes in addition to links. Jun 3, 2014 at 15:23
  • No, just to copy and paste the relevant Tosafos in a block quote. (see this answer, no shaychus, just randomly chose an answer which quoted sources). Translation shouldn't be strictly necessary, but the idea behind Stack Exchange is that you should be able to see answers with sources directly in them if possible. I really appreciate the answer, especially in light of last week's parsha נשא. Jun 3, 2014 at 15:30
  • Can you cite that this is a Minhag? What defines one to be a "God fearing Jew" such that the Minhag applies to them?
    – Double AA
    Mar 20, 2015 at 19:42
  • @DoubleAA The SMB says that this is the Minhag for God fearing Jews. He clearly had some standard to define that. Sadly he does not do that in the piece I quoted May 17, 2017 at 11:18

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 many chassidim it is reserved for extra special occasions such as erev Yom Kippur).

"He turned to her lovingly and said “don’t cry, my child, I will be your Father and bless you this Yom Kippur! With tears streaming down his face, the Rebbe proceeded to place his hands atop a scarf upon the head of the girl and gave her a most heartfelt and sincere blessing for the coming New Year, in memory of the holy souls who had perished in the Holocaust. After the girl dried her own tears and thanked the Rebbe, she went back to her room and whispered her good fortune to her friends. In turn, they lined up to receive their own blessing and the Rebbe calmly blessed every girl who came to him that Yom Kippur Eve."

This of course is an exceptional circumstance that I don't think most people would be inclined to infer far reaching halachic conclusions from. We can find a number of sources which would provide room for leniency in this situation, the scarf only providing an additional level of tznius.

In more typical circumstances I think the admonition of the Sefer Chassidim 1090 (See Rabbi Getsel Ellinson Woman & the Mitzvot vol. 2, page 73) which prohibits touching (i.e. shaking hands) with a [non-Jewish] woman even when gloved would be more apropos.

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    how does this answer the question Jun 3, 2014 at 10:07

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