At work, some amount of interaction is inevitable. There are some people that I just don't feel like greeting.

What is the Jewish view on this issue? What does the Halachah say about 'greeting one another', even if there is an obvious dislike?

  • I've edited the tags and removed your disclaimer about them.
    – Alex
    Sep 14, 2018 at 16:59
  • Reb Yaakov famously is known for greeting the nuns he walked by every morning. I'm not sure he was their biggest fan but he still felt that as human beings they deserved respect.
    – robev
    Sep 14, 2018 at 17:02
  • nohello.com
    – Double AA
    Sep 14, 2018 at 17:08
  • Pirkei ovos is worth learning regularly.
    – user15253
    Sep 14, 2018 at 17:09
  • 1
    When I come to work, I greet everyone there, regardless of their gender, religion, etc. Same when I leave. I feel it's a polite thing to do. I hate to say this, but I somewhat agree with your co-workers.
    – ezra
    Sep 14, 2018 at 18:09

3 Answers 3


A Talmudic passage that may be relevant here:

Berachot 17a

מרגלא בפומיה דאביי לעולם יהא אדם ערום ביראה מענה רך משיב חמה ומרבה שלום עם אחיו ועם קרוביו ועם כל אדם ואפילו עם נכרי בשוק כדי שיהא אהוב למעלה ונחמד למטה ויהא מקובל על הבריות אמרו עליו על רבן יוחנן בן זכאי שלא הקדימו אדם שלום מעולם ואפילו נכרי בשוק

A favourite saying of Abaye was: A man should always be subtle in the fear of heaven. A soft answer turneth away wrath, and one should always strive to be on the best terms with his brethren and his relatives and with all men and even with the heathen in the street, in order that he may be beloved above and well-liked below and be acceptable to his fellow creatures. It was related of R. Johanan b. Zakkai that no man ever gave him greeting first, even a heathen in the street. (Soncino translation)

  • I'm kinda not content with this answer. So one should also greet for instance a gay, pedophile, adulterous, idolatrous person first? I hardly believe that this translates as 'fear of heaven'. Of course, those examples that I listed are rather extreme and drastic and (hopefully) don't apply to the people I try to avoid at work and shul. But you get my point. I agree with many things in Talmud. But some things are not something I'd agree with. But I guess you provided a source-backed answer. I am going to ask some person I respect at my shul for his point of view aswell.
    – user16556
    Sep 15, 2018 at 7:34
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    @Anonymous respectfully, the way to learn Torah is not to see if the Torah agrees with your ideas, but rather to learn what the Torah says and adapt your behavior
    – mbloch
    Sep 15, 2018 at 19:07
  • @mbloch respectfully, the Torah doesn't adress this topic specifically. We are talking about the opinions and views of our jewish ancestors who wrote their thoughts down in the talmud, shulchan aruch etc.
    – user16556
    Sep 16, 2018 at 2:21

In addition to the previous answer, here are two more sources that address the topic of greeting people:

וא"ר חלבו אמר רב הונא כל שיודע בחברו שהוא רגיל ליתן לו שלום יקדים לו שלום שנאמר בקש שלום ורדפהו ואם נתן לו ולא החזיר נקרא גזלן שנאמר ואתם בערתם הכרם גזלת העני בבתיכם

Rav Chelbo said in the name of Rav Huna, Whoever knows that his friend is in the habit of greeting him should greet him first, as it is said, "Seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:15). If he greeted him and he didn't respond, he is called a robber, as it is said, "And you destroyed the vineyard, the theft of the poor is in your houses" (Isaiah 3:14).

(Berachot 6b)

(The second statement is playing on the dual meaning of עני as either "poor person" or "response," according to the commentary of Ya'avetz.)

This source explicitly recommends greeting first those who are in the habit of greeting you.

Regarding greeting idolaters (which seems to be a concern you had from your comment): The Mishnah Gittin 5:9 also says ושואלין בשלומן מפני דרכי שלום, "We greet [gentiles] for the sake of peace." The Gemara 62a says that the case is greeting an idolater on an idolatrous holiday: "A person shouldn't enter an idolater's house on his holiday to greet him, but if he found him in the market he greets him weakly and seriously. It further brings a statement in the name of Rav not to greet an idolater twice. Neither statement implies that there is any problem with greeting an idolater in general on days other than holidays.


Here are two more relevant sources from Pirkei Avot

Pirkei Avot 1:15

Shammai says, "Make your Torah fixed, say little and do much, and greet (receive) every person with a pleasant countenance."

Pirkei Avot 4:15

Rabbi Matya the son of Charash would say: Be first to greet every man. Be a tail to lions, rather than a head to foxes.

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