Other questions have been asked about riding public transportation in close proximity with persons of the opposite sex. It was cited that Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt'l, permitted men to ride on crowded subway cars in close proximity with women even though it might entail actual touching.

Currently, there has been conflict on airplanes and buses where men have asked women to change their seats, or have asked others to exchange seats so as not to sit next to a woman. Given that these persons are relying on a psak halacha by some gadol, I am curious as to how those decisions distinguish Rav Feinstein's reasoning.

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    Doesnt R Feinstein limit his ruling to people who will not come to sexual thoughts during the ride?
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 20:48
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    @DoubleAA he actually addresses that. "But it will cause thoughts!" Still, take the bus or subway. But if it causes an um, anatomic reaction, a man shouldn't -- but Rav Moshe doesn't think that Joe Baalabos who's busy with kids, job, mortgage, wife, minyan, and daf yomi is really going to have that kind of reaction.
    – Shalom
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 10:05
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    @Shalom Ok, but if he knows he will... Remember that you're average Charedi who rarely sees a woman's elbow may be more distracted by a tank top then a Jew who grew up outside of a modern-Shtetl.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 14:48
  • jpost.com/Israel-News/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


You could suggest all sorts of hairs to split, but the simplest would be to say they're following rabbis other Rav Moshe. E.g. R' Getzel Ellinson challenged Rav Moshe on this heter.

  • This doesn't answer the question. The OP already acknowledged that they were relying on other Poskim.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 15:03
  • @DoubleAA The OP asked how "those decisions distinguish Rav Feinstein's reasoning" (emphasis supplied), which I think means the mentioned "decisions" accept RMF's subway decision but distinguish their case from his, saying his reasoning doesn't apply to the former. This answer suggests that, on the contrary, they don't accept his subway decision at all.
    – msh210
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 2:55
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    @msh210 I took it to mean which step in the reasoning used by RMF do they disagree with.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 22:15
  • @shalom How did R. Getzel Ellinson challenge Rav Moshe? What was his analysis? Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:02
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    @BruceJames R' Ellinson wrote to Rav Moshe that as Rav Moshe discourages cross-gendered handshakes, he should say the same for cross-gendered mass-transit rides as well. Rav Moshe replied that handshakes could in some circumstances be "derech chiba"; mass transit is definitely not. (More broadly, some poskim say all touching is prohibited, not limiting it to "derech chiba." R Moshe seems to have a middle ground, if I'm reading it correctly; avoid types of touching that could reasonably be misconstrued as derech chiba.
    – Shalom
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:28

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