Is there any specific prohibition that forbids showing affection with one's spouse in public? For example kissing on the forehead or holding hands, not more extreme affection actions of course.

  • 3
    related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18672/759
    – Double AA
    Feb 20, 2015 at 15:33
  • A wise woman once told "Those who have it don't show it. And those who show it, don't have it". Amazing line.
    – user16556
    Feb 11, 2019 at 19:48
  • @Anonymous I’d bet all the pennies I could have amassed, from hearing that aphorism, that any sociologist or marriage counselor on top of their game would strongly disagree.
    – Oliver
    Feb 12, 2019 at 4:36
  • @oliver: are you a jew?
    – user16556
    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:43
  • @Anonymous Relevance?
    – Oliver
    Feb 12, 2019 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


The Rama writes (EH 21:5)

יש אומרים דאין לנהוג אפילו עם אשתו בדברים של חיבה, כגון לעיין ברישיה אם יש לו כינים, בפני אחרים
Some say that you shouldn't act with your wife in affectionate matters, such as her checking his head for lice, in front of others.

While some have extended this to prohibit any public indication of her Niddah status (such as via non-affectionate touching) as a formal prohibition, Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin (Benei Vanim 1:37:1) quotes the source of the Rama's citation (the Nimukei Yosef) who simply states:

דרך ארץ שאינו ראוי להתנהג עם אשתו כיוצא בדברים אלה בפני אחרים
It is derekh eretz to not act with his wife in matters such as [her checking his hair for lice] in front of others.

Thus, no formal prohibition is involved. R Henkin writes further that even for a Talmid Chacham who is accustomed to prishut such as this, holding hands in public is ok as it is not particularly "affectionate", unlike lice checking was in those days where you would lie in the checker's arms on a bed. Indeed classically, he notes, women wore special clothing to make it obvious to all when they were Niddot.

Obviously, every circumstance and action is different, so consult your rabbi for a particular ruling.

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    The Nimukei Yoseif (Bava Basra 31 in dapei haRif) was talking about the story on Bava Basra 58a about Avraham resting in Sarah's arms in their burial place in מערת המכפלה. In the story there, Avraham gave permission to be viewed with Sarah since they were no longer alive. See the Taz, for e.g., who distinguishes between that degree of public affection, which he says is forbidden, and checking for lice, which he says is not appropriate (אינו נכון).
    – Fred
    Feb 20, 2015 at 16:57
  • Actually, though R' Henkin accepts the two categories mentioned in the Taz, he considers hand holding to be not even as affectionate as lice checking (which seems a bit odd to me) - he accepts that avoiding lice checking in public would be a "good practice" (הנהגה טובה) whereas he indicates that, generally speaking, there is no need at all to avoid the hand holding.
    – Fred
    Feb 20, 2015 at 17:16
  • @Fred, then again it is a very common Minhag for husband and wife to walk away from the Chuppah holding hands in full public view, although some don't do it possibly because of the public affection issue (another reason to not do it might be to not embarrass someone who has a Chupas Nida).
    – Yishai
    Feb 20, 2015 at 18:17
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    @Fred I don't think he accepts the Taz. He only accepts that there can be levels of affection similar to the Taz, but even the top one is still only Hanhaga Tovah (whatever that means). Re lice checking: it seems he would distinguish a intimate-position lice checking and a perfunctory lice checking in a doctor's office, for instance. Holding hands is in the latter category that even Perushim don't need to worry about, unlike the former category where it is good to be Tzanua about it.
    – Double AA
    Feb 20, 2015 at 18:21
  • @Yishai I'm not saying it's wrong to do that; I'm just saying that the distinction between that and checking his wife's hair is not immediately obvious to me.
    – Fred
    Feb 20, 2015 at 19:14

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