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Albany, NY - Newly Appointed NY Senator: Getting To Know NYers, Orthodox Man I Nod My Head Not Shake Hands

Published on: January 27, 2009 09:50 AM
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Chabad Shluchim Chanoch Hecht, of Chabad of Dutchess County and Avrohom Boruch Itkin, of Chabad of Greene County meet with the newly appointed Junior Senator of NY, Kirsten Gillibrand in Albany.Albany, NY - U.S. Sen.-designee Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport has been on a whirlwind schedule since Paterson appointed her to the Senate on Friday

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Gillibrand said her task ahead is to learn about people throughout New York state.

She learned something new on Monday when she came to Rabbi Hannoch Hecht in the receiving line as she arrived at a forum.

Gillibrand stopped and asked him the proper way to greet him, since married Orthodox Jewish men are forbidden from shaking hands with someone of the opposite sex.

“Just shake your head,” the rabbi said, as Gillibrand nodded her greeting.



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Read Comments (64)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 27, 2009 at 09:53 AM awswsome Says:

what a kidush hashem!!!!!!! so buitiful

2

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:00 AM Anonymous Says:

Only MARRIED Jewish men? Why can they never get it right?

3

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:41 AM Josh Says:

Wow that was quick, keep up the good work!!! I heard she was Pro Israel at the forum using Israel as her first example of a country that is "going green" with electric cars...

4

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:34 AM Big Masmid Says:

Very nice and inspiring to all of Klall Yisroel. Thank you Chabad for being there to teach all of us how to deal in a situation like this.

5

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:33 AM Anonymous Says:

Halavai this story would really get plastered in all the newspapers.

This is always such an uncomfortable situation for both sides if the woman doesn't know there is even an issue.

6

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:42 AM Josh Says:

Wow that was quick, keep up the good work!!! I heard she was Pro Israel at the forum using Israel as her first example of a country that is "going green" with electric cars...

7

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:31 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Only MARRIED Jewish men? Why can they never get it right?

Yes, most of the gdolim have paskined that a married man cannot, chas vachalilah, touch or engage in any intimate contact with a woman who is not his wife. This isur is well know among frumme yidden and even among non-religious jews so why do you find it so surprising that the Rav would not shake her hand?

9

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:25 AM CR Says:

thank g-d for Chabad and standing firm in your principals, it's so sad to see how many other frumme orthodox people compromise on this very important issur.

10

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:54 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Yes, most of the gdolim have paskined that a married man cannot, chas vachalilah, touch or engage in any intimate contact with a woman who is not his wife. This isur is well know among frumme yidden and even among non-religious jews so why do you find it so surprising that the Rav would not shake her hand?

Did you read what he wrote or did you respond first and read later?

He was commenting on the mistake that was reported, that it is only forbidden for MARRIED men to touch a woman, not for ALL men.

11

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:52 AM Anonymous Says:

This misunderstanding happens all the time. It is sometimes our fault. I know I am guilty myself. Often I say things like, "I hope you are not offended, but my wife and I touch no person of the opposite gender other than each other."
I say this, because often there are less observant Jews nearby who do not observe this, and they tend to be "offended" when I say it is forbidden for any Jewish man to touch a woman, etc., After all, their "Rabbi" shakes their wife's hand.
So, I got used to saying my usual less "offensive" thing. But, I can see where a misunderstanding can arise.

Maybe I need to say with shock, "Ich bin nisht kein Sheigatz! How dare you think that I would touch another woman." (smile)

But, also, one of the reasons I use the softer approach is that I once was going in to greet an important female politician. Her secretary reached out first to shake my hand. I said, "Please understand, but we are not permitted to touch any other woman."

The woman turned to the politician, and said, with distaste in her voice, "They are not allowed to touch a gentile!"
The politician had a shocked and offended look, while my mouth dropped open at the silly misinterpretation.

Though I tried to correct it, I felt they never believed the truth.

So, for years I have used the "I hope you are not offended, but my wife and I touch no person of the opposite gender other than each other." and all I get are smiles and positive remarks like, "Oh, how romantic."

But, this story is an example of how my words could easily lead to misunderstandings.

I gues I need to work on a better wording.

12

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:03 AM avrumy Says:

beautiful

13

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:02 AM robroy560 Says:

I'm not sure how this is a Kiddush HaShem, but I do give the new senator credit for asking.

14

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:15 AM Lmaan H'Emmess Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Yes, most of the gdolim have paskined that a married man cannot, chas vachalilah, touch or engage in any intimate contact with a woman who is not his wife. This isur is well know among frumme yidden and even among non-religious jews so why do you find it so surprising that the Rav would not shake her hand?

You have it all wrong. All men regardless if they're married or not there is a ISSUR of NEGIYA to a married women and BAZMAN HAZEH to all women over the age of 12

15

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:13 AM Confused! Says:

I understood that there is no issur in shaking hands with a non-jewish woman because there is no issue with nidda. Someone please explain.

16

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:21 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Josh Says:

Wow that was quick, keep up the good work!!! I heard she was Pro Israel at the forum using Israel as her first example of a country that is "going green" with electric cars...

indeed she is just as pro israel as schumer and clinton and damato

17

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:40 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Confused! Says:

I understood that there is no issur in shaking hands with a non-jewish woman because there is no issue with nidda. Someone please explain.

issue negiah issur ervah

18

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:29 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Confused! Says:

I understood that there is no issur in shaking hands with a non-jewish woman because there is no issue with nidda. Someone please explain.

The issur against a married man having intimate contact is with Yiddeshe women. You are correct that it is mutar for non-yiddeshe women whether or not the man is marreied. While I'm not a posek, I think this is correct..Anyway, I think her deference to whatever the halacha might be was a nice gesture and a good start.

19

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Confused! Says:

I understood that there is no issur in shaking hands with a non-jewish woman because there is no issue with nidda. Someone please explain.

You got it right indeed. You are confused.

The isur of negiah has nothing todo with tumas nidah. Otherwise, you couldn't touch your mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, etc.

20

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:04 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
CR Says:

thank g-d for Chabad and standing firm in your principals, it's so sad to see how many other frumme orthodox people compromise on this very important issur.

Wouldn't your praise of chabad been as good without accusing other frum yiidin of anything???

21

 Jan 27, 2009 at 11:04 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

Did you read what he wrote or did you respond first and read later?

He was commenting on the mistake that was reported, that it is only forbidden for MARRIED men to touch a woman, not for ALL men.

I did go back and read the story. Nowhere does it say it is mutar for unmarried men to engage in negiah with women...maybe we are reading the sentence differently but I'm glad you are aware that such touching is forbidden for ALL men.

22

 Jan 27, 2009 at 10:59 AM Abe Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Yes, most of the gdolim have paskined that a married man cannot, chas vachalilah, touch or engage in any intimate contact with a woman who is not his wife. This isur is well know among frumme yidden and even among non-religious jews so why do you find it so surprising that the Rav would not shake her hand?

What hw was saying is that the Senator said "married men are not allowed", which would imply that unmarried men are permitted to shake a woman's hand, which is obviously not true.

23

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:09 PM Askipeh Hanidreses Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Only MARRIED Jewish men? Why can they never get it right?

Because cheating on your wife they understand; but cheating on G-d they don't understand. As someone once asked me: You don't turn on the light on Shabbos even when no-one sees? Go teach them Yiras Haborah and Ahavas Haborah.

24

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:00 PM merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

25

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:29 PM respect Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

and soon you will say the same to yichud and then chas vshalom intermarriage. there is a reason for every halachah even if you think you "look ridiculous". thanks g-d for chabad they have morals

26

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

indeed she is just as pro israel as schumer and clinton and damato

Clinton pro Israel? PLO, Nobe Peace Prize Arafat?

27

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:50 PM moving to the left Says:

#25 that is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard! Just because there are certain gedarim (fences) around the Torah doesn't mean that A will lead to B will lead to C, etc. It's like saying if you patch your child in the tush lightly then eventually you will start beating up people and then eventually kill them. Not embarrasing someone in public especially if you have a big yarlmeka and beard is more important than a simple meaningless handshake in front of tens of people.

28

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:15 PM Kohen Gadol Says:

#24 and #27 your flippant comments regarding such an important issue are reprehensible.
For the others who are interested - Obviously I try to avoid the situation alltogether. If that is not possible I simply say, "I can't shake your hand for religious reasons. Please do not take any personal offense." I never had any problem.
The more people are makpid the easier it becomes for everyone else.
Chazak Chazak Vnischazeik.

29

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:31 PM NOT CHABAD Says:

Reply to #27  
moving to the left Says:

#25 that is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard! Just because there are certain gedarim (fences) around the Torah doesn't mean that A will lead to B will lead to C, etc. It's like saying if you patch your child in the tush lightly then eventually you will start beating up people and then eventually kill them. Not embarrasing someone in public especially if you have a big yarlmeka and beard is more important than a simple meaningless handshake in front of tens of people.

Though I am not Chabad at all .... and sometimes am put off by them, in this case, I applaud these Chabad rabbis. Good job. Thank you for showing NY how a Jew is supposed to behave.

30

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #27  
moving to the left Says:

#25 that is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard! Just because there are certain gedarim (fences) around the Torah doesn't mean that A will lead to B will lead to C, etc. It's like saying if you patch your child in the tush lightly then eventually you will start beating up people and then eventually kill them. Not embarrasing someone in public especially if you have a big yarlmeka and beard is more important than a simple meaningless handshake in front of tens of people.

So, you are denying that Mitzvah goreres mitzvah, and avaira goreres avaira?

It is certainly truth. Once we trash some mitzvahs, we trash others.

Our Jewish religion in NOT a Chinese menu. We can't pick and choose which mitzvohs we like and which we don't like. We may not simply choose to ignore those we don't like.

31

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

God forbid.

NO POSEIK would EVER say it is muttar to shake hands with women for business or any other purpose. Anytime to see some Jew do it, he is breaking our laws. PERIOD.

There are no exceptions. Would you allow a cheeseburger at a business meal? Would you G-d forbid attend a "vitally important" company meeting on Shabbos?

Of course not to both of the above.

Men's shaking hands with women, as well as women's shaking hands with men is JUST AS OSSUR!

Yes, I know there are a FEW Mod Orth rabbis who do this. They do it because they mistankenly believe they will insult the women on their shuls, and they invent an inproper heter, saying, "Better to shake hands, than to embarrass a person."

This is a wrong decision. He should take the opportunity to educate. It can be done politely with no hurt feelings.

And, IF a woman's feelings are hurt for the moment, she learns and does not repeat this mistake, of offering her hand to a man. The alternative, is she shakes her rabbi's hand every week for years, then later tries to shake some other rabbi's hand and learns better. Now she is embarrassed that she did this for 10 years! Better a few seconds of embarrassment.

But, usually it can be handled in a good way.

There is NO heter, ever, at all.

As far as your remark that "This issue serves no purpose, and makes Jews look rediculous." That is rediculous. It is certainly no more rediculous than saying,
"I can't get with you at that place, we need to go to a kosher place."
Or, "Sorry, but I must leave 2 hours earlier on Fridays during the winter."
Or, "Sorry, but I can't attend the company party on Saturday."

What makes Jews look rediculous to gentiles, is Jews not observing their Torah. Goyim see us as the ones chosen to give the Torah to, and we trash it. THAT makes us look rediculous.

32

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:23 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #27  
moving to the left Says:

#25 that is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard! Just because there are certain gedarim (fences) around the Torah doesn't mean that A will lead to B will lead to C, etc. It's like saying if you patch your child in the tush lightly then eventually you will start beating up people and then eventually kill them. Not embarrasing someone in public especially if you have a big yarlmeka and beard is more important than a simple meaningless handshake in front of tens of people.

I dont know if you are aware of how maikel Rabbanim are when some people for buissness shake hands.Its not so pashut.Everybody has to ask their own sheila to their LOR.When in certain circumstances that a Rav gives an ok for someone to shake hands then that Rav is relying on a Bidie Eved of of a Bidie Eved.Its really not that simple!

33

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:23 PM Anonymous Says:

The ignorance here is amazing. And the "feelings" issues are typical of ignorant people.

34

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:23 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #28  
Kohen Gadol Says:

#24 and #27 your flippant comments regarding such an important issue are reprehensible.
For the others who are interested - Obviously I try to avoid the situation alltogether. If that is not possible I simply say, "I can't shake your hand for religious reasons. Please do not take any personal offense." I never had any problem.
The more people are makpid the easier it becomes for everyone else.
Chazak Chazak Vnischazeik.

i agree

35

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

will you please tell me which rov permits it?

there are plenty of other things that we shouldn't do or do so that the outside world doesn't think that Jews are ridiculous

36

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
respect Says:

and soon you will say the same to yichud and then chas vshalom intermarriage. there is a reason for every halachah even if you think you "look ridiculous". thanks g-d for chabad they have morals

This type of situation makes yidden appear to be arrogant and elitist. We can believe we are the "chosen people" but shaking hands with a political leader who can do much for klal yisroel is clearly permitted and will not lead to this Chabad shaliach engaging in any kind of illict behavior with the Senator. This is the same type of mindless behavior that lead to the harassment of Rav Lookstien last week for speaking at the President's prayer breakfast.

37

 Jan 27, 2009 at 02:02 PM Berl Says:

The point of the story is that she had the sechel and finesse to ask first, she most probably did a little homework. Kennedy on the other hand was brought up among her promiscuous family who have been known to grope women and worse, so she might have been offended by a refusal to have physical contact with her
I hope the Senator continues using sechel and becomes an asset to the senate. NY has enough buffoons in DC like Chucky Schmucky Shumer and Charlie Rangel whose fancy clothes make pimp threads look like schmattas

38

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:55 PM Chani V Says:

Chanochie, and AB going in ur Zeidehs' footsteps,, Mesiras Nefesh today means doing what is right, even if means putting oneself into an uncomfortable position to uphold Halacha,, and you guys are epitomizing it.... I bet the Rebbe, and your Zeidehs, JJ and Reb Meir, are smiling in Gan Eden today!
Good Job Shea,,,, You have what to be proud of, in your children's Chinuch! May the Eibishter Bentch you all with all the Rebbe's Brochos AD BLI DAI!

39

 Jan 27, 2009 at 01:50 PM Chaim B. Says:

I heard from a chashuva jid that the chachmei germania held it is mutar to shake a womens hand as its a form of formality. I'm no possek please elaborate if someone knows more on this issue.

But as always kol hakavod to chabad.

40

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:39 PM David Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

Thank you. Finally the voice of reason.

41

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:34 PM Askipeh Hanidreses Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

This misunderstanding happens all the time. It is sometimes our fault. I know I am guilty myself. Often I say things like, "I hope you are not offended, but my wife and I touch no person of the opposite gender other than each other."
I say this, because often there are less observant Jews nearby who do not observe this, and they tend to be "offended" when I say it is forbidden for any Jewish man to touch a woman, etc., After all, their "Rabbi" shakes their wife's hand.
So, I got used to saying my usual less "offensive" thing. But, I can see where a misunderstanding can arise.

Maybe I need to say with shock, "Ich bin nisht kein Sheigatz! How dare you think that I would touch another woman." (smile)

But, also, one of the reasons I use the softer approach is that I once was going in to greet an important female politician. Her secretary reached out first to shake my hand. I said, "Please understand, but we are not permitted to touch any other woman."

The woman turned to the politician, and said, with distaste in her voice, "They are not allowed to touch a gentile!"
The politician had a shocked and offended look, while my mouth dropped open at the silly misinterpretation.

Though I tried to correct it, I felt they never believed the truth.

So, for years I have used the "I hope you are not offended, but my wife and I touch no person of the opposite gender other than each other." and all I get are smiles and positive remarks like, "Oh, how romantic."

But, this story is an example of how my words could easily lead to misunderstandings.

I gues I need to work on a better wording.

Why say a long megillah? I say simply: I can't give my hand for religious reasons. They more then understand. Language like "I don't touch someone who is not my wife” or "I only touch my wife" or “I only touch someone who is mine” is not “eidel” and can sometimes cause problems begashmiyus and berochniyus. I once had a very uncomfortable story where a woman wanted to shake my hand, and it happened to be that she was extremely ugly. I gave my once usual “I don’t touch a woman who isn’t mine” and her husband who was standing there said “I don’t either touch her!” I didn’t know what to do, because I caused shame to this woman. Since then I decided on saying: I can't give my hand for religious reasons, something which is true and everybody undersatands. If anyone has a better idea, please speak up.

42

 Jan 27, 2009 at 12:29 PM respect Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

and soon you will say the same to yichud and then chas vshalom intermarriage. there is a reason for every halachah even if you think you "look ridiculous". thanks g-d for chabad they have morals

43

 Jan 27, 2009 at 02:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #36  
Anonymous Says:

This type of situation makes yidden appear to be arrogant and elitist. We can believe we are the "chosen people" but shaking hands with a political leader who can do much for klal yisroel is clearly permitted and will not lead to this Chabad shaliach engaging in any kind of illict behavior with the Senator. This is the same type of mindless behavior that lead to the harassment of Rav Lookstien last week for speaking at the President's prayer breakfast.

At least someone has common sense, I applaud your comment

44

 Jan 27, 2009 at 03:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
respect Says:

and soon you will say the same to yichud and then chas vshalom intermarriage. there is a reason for every halachah even if you think you "look ridiculous". thanks g-d for chabad they have morals

And no one else has morals?

45

 Jan 27, 2009 at 03:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

I hope you don't take all the poskim who disagree with you too personally.

46

 Jan 27, 2009 at 04:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

Reb Moshe says it;s prohibited

47

 Jan 27, 2009 at 03:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #37  
Berl Says:

The point of the story is that she had the sechel and finesse to ask first, she most probably did a little homework. Kennedy on the other hand was brought up among her promiscuous family who have been known to grope women and worse, so she might have been offended by a refusal to have physical contact with her
I hope the Senator continues using sechel and becomes an asset to the senate. NY has enough buffoons in DC like Chucky Schmucky Shumer and Charlie Rangel whose fancy clothes make pimp threads look like schmattas

YOU are right but where is your sechel and rinse your mouth, your language is not exactly very refined

48

 Jan 27, 2009 at 03:49 PM Anonymous Says:

This fine senator has a 100% record in accordance with NRA . A fine "patriotic" association

49

 Jan 27, 2009 at 04:13 PM Allan Says:

Reply to #37  
Berl Says:

The point of the story is that she had the sechel and finesse to ask first, she most probably did a little homework. Kennedy on the other hand was brought up among her promiscuous family who have been known to grope women and worse, so she might have been offended by a refusal to have physical contact with her
I hope the Senator continues using sechel and becomes an asset to the senate. NY has enough buffoons in DC like Chucky Schmucky Shumer and Charlie Rangel whose fancy clothes make pimp threads look like schmattas

Good post...her sechel to ask is the main issue .....I agree

50

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #48  
Anonymous Says:

This fine senator has a 100% record in accordance with NRA . A fine "patriotic" association

actually its the one thing going against her, especially among many city people in the 5 borooughs who are against guns and pro gun control especially in our city

51

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:04 PM Anonymous Says:

Negiah is asur when it's derech chiba. It is not clear that a momentary handshake is derech chiba. I am not sure Reb Moshe holds it's asur.

52

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:46 PM EX- New Yorker Says:

Reply to #50  
Anonymous Says:

actually its the one thing going against her, especially among many city people in the 5 borooughs who are against guns and pro gun control especially in our city

One of the reasons I moved out of NY was the foolish gun control laws.

53

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #48  
Anonymous Says:

This fine senator has a 100% record in accordance with NRA . A fine "patriotic" association

That she is an NRA member is a good thing.

Anti-gun people are fools.

54

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #46  
Anonymous Says:

Reb Moshe says it;s prohibited

Amen, so does every posek worth listening to.

55

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #31  
Anonymous Says:

God forbid.

NO POSEIK would EVER say it is muttar to shake hands with women for business or any other purpose. Anytime to see some Jew do it, he is breaking our laws. PERIOD.

There are no exceptions. Would you allow a cheeseburger at a business meal? Would you G-d forbid attend a "vitally important" company meeting on Shabbos?

Of course not to both of the above.

Men's shaking hands with women, as well as women's shaking hands with men is JUST AS OSSUR!

Yes, I know there are a FEW Mod Orth rabbis who do this. They do it because they mistankenly believe they will insult the women on their shuls, and they invent an inproper heter, saying, "Better to shake hands, than to embarrass a person."

This is a wrong decision. He should take the opportunity to educate. It can be done politely with no hurt feelings.

And, IF a woman's feelings are hurt for the moment, she learns and does not repeat this mistake, of offering her hand to a man. The alternative, is she shakes her rabbi's hand every week for years, then later tries to shake some other rabbi's hand and learns better. Now she is embarrassed that she did this for 10 years! Better a few seconds of embarrassment.

But, usually it can be handled in a good way.

There is NO heter, ever, at all.

As far as your remark that "This issue serves no purpose, and makes Jews look rediculous." That is rediculous. It is certainly no more rediculous than saying,
"I can't get with you at that place, we need to go to a kosher place."
Or, "Sorry, but I must leave 2 hours earlier on Fridays during the winter."
Or, "Sorry, but I can't attend the company party on Saturday."

What makes Jews look rediculous to gentiles, is Jews not observing their Torah. Goyim see us as the ones chosen to give the Torah to, and we trash it. THAT makes us look rediculous.

You have smicha from whom? This is not the forum for halachick discussions and psak halacha against a group pf rabbanim who matir it is silly

60

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:33 PM Middle of the Road Rabbi Says:

Reply to #41  
Askipeh Hanidreses Says:

Why say a long megillah? I say simply: I can't give my hand for religious reasons. They more then understand. Language like "I don't touch someone who is not my wife” or "I only touch my wife" or “I only touch someone who is mine” is not “eidel” and can sometimes cause problems begashmiyus and berochniyus. I once had a very uncomfortable story where a woman wanted to shake my hand, and it happened to be that she was extremely ugly. I gave my once usual “I don’t touch a woman who isn’t mine” and her husband who was standing there said “I don’t either touch her!” I didn’t know what to do, because I caused shame to this woman. Since then I decided on saying: I can't give my hand for religious reasons, something which is true and everybody undersatands. If anyone has a better idea, please speak up.

The only problem I have run into with "I can't give my hand for religious reasons" is that it is sometimes misunderstood as "I can't give a commitment for religious reasons, or, I cant touch a gentile for religious reasons." taking offense.

If I just add a few words: "I can't give my hand to any woman for religious reasons." it works out fine.

61

 Jan 27, 2009 at 06:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #55  
Anonymous Says:

You have smicha from whom? This is not the forum for halachick discussions and psak halacha against a group pf rabbanim who matir it is silly

Orthodox Rabbonim do NOT matir it, though.

62

 Jan 27, 2009 at 05:29 PM Middle of the Road Rabbi Says:

Reply to #39  
Chaim B. Says:

I heard from a chashuva jid that the chachmei germania held it is mutar to shake a womens hand as its a form of formality. I'm no possek please elaborate if someone knows more on this issue.

But as always kol hakavod to chabad.

NO posek that I ever read, and I have looked this one up, has EVER held it was ever mutar for a man to shake a woman's hand.

63

 Jan 27, 2009 at 09:36 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #24  
merking Says:

There is no harm in shaking hands. Some poskim permit it in business situations. It is very odd and strange to not shake hands. This issur serves no purpose and it makes Jews look ridiculous.

You say yourself that only SOME poskim permit it. That means others don't. So how can you say there's no harm in it, and that it serves no purpose? What's more, even those who permit it only do so bedieved, when there is no choice, and even then only to shake "like a dead fish"; they agree that there IS harm in it, but say that the harm of hurting someone's feelings is greater. Here obviously there was a choice, because we see that he didn't shake hands and got away with it, and the senator didn't take offense. What posek would permit it in such a situation? None that I've ever heard of.

In any case, this person is obviously not required to rely on those few poskim who are lenient; what gives you the chutzpah to demand this of him? Will you next demand that everybody rely on every heter that some rabbi comes up with?

64

 Jan 27, 2009 at 09:40 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #50  
Anonymous Says:

actually its the one thing going against her, especially among many city people in the 5 borooughs who are against guns and pro gun control especially in our city

And that's one reason why most Americans despise "many city people in the 5 boroughs", who spit on the Bill of Rights. Would you tolerate a city that banned newspapers, or a religious practise? If the people of NYC are against gun rights, that's too bad for them, and a shame on them. The same constitution that protects our right to practise our religion, in the very next amendment protects our right to be armed.

65

 Jan 27, 2009 at 09:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

This misunderstanding happens all the time. It is sometimes our fault. I know I am guilty myself. Often I say things like, "I hope you are not offended, but my wife and I touch no person of the opposite gender other than each other."
I say this, because often there are less observant Jews nearby who do not observe this, and they tend to be "offended" when I say it is forbidden for any Jewish man to touch a woman, etc., After all, their "Rabbi" shakes their wife's hand.
So, I got used to saying my usual less "offensive" thing. But, I can see where a misunderstanding can arise.

Maybe I need to say with shock, "Ich bin nisht kein Sheigatz! How dare you think that I would touch another woman." (smile)

But, also, one of the reasons I use the softer approach is that I once was going in to greet an important female politician. Her secretary reached out first to shake my hand. I said, "Please understand, but we are not permitted to touch any other woman."

The woman turned to the politician, and said, with distaste in her voice, "They are not allowed to touch a gentile!"
The politician had a shocked and offended look, while my mouth dropped open at the silly misinterpretation.

Though I tried to correct it, I felt they never believed the truth.

So, for years I have used the "I hope you are not offended, but my wife and I touch no person of the opposite gender other than each other." and all I get are smiles and positive remarks like, "Oh, how romantic."

But, this story is an example of how my words could easily lead to misunderstandings.

I gues I need to work on a better wording.

#11, may G-d bless you for all your efforts in all you do, because of your thoughtful approach to this mitzvah.

66

 Jan 28, 2009 at 12:34 AM T S Says:

Regardless of whether you agree with a prohibition on man shaking woman's hand - the very positive point in this episode is:

Some orthodox Jews have such a custom - and their adherence to it is so strong that it is well known enough for a NY senator.

And she did well in her representation of her country - of free people - by showing respect for this custom and asking how to greet them as they deem approrpriate.

67

 Jan 28, 2009 at 05:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Thank you 66 your answer was really the one we cna be most proud of. You say it the way it should be and was in this situation. Thanks again

68

 Jan 28, 2009 at 11:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #63  
Milhouse Says:

You say yourself that only SOME poskim permit it. That means others don't. So how can you say there's no harm in it, and that it serves no purpose? What's more, even those who permit it only do so bedieved, when there is no choice, and even then only to shake "like a dead fish"; they agree that there IS harm in it, but say that the harm of hurting someone's feelings is greater. Here obviously there was a choice, because we see that he didn't shake hands and got away with it, and the senator didn't take offense. What posek would permit it in such a situation? None that I've ever heard of.

In any case, this person is obviously not required to rely on those few poskim who are lenient; what gives you the chutzpah to demand this of him? Will you next demand that everybody rely on every heter that some rabbi comes up with?

Shaking hands is nothing more than a social courtesy. If you acn't shake a woman's hand without it becoming or leading to a sexual act in mind or matter than by all means refrain from it. Just stop annoying the rest of us.

69

 Jan 30, 2009 at 03:22 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #68  
Anonymous Says:

Shaking hands is nothing more than a social courtesy. If you acn't shake a woman's hand without it becoming or leading to a sexual act in mind or matter than by all means refrain from it. Just stop annoying the rest of us.

Halacha is annoying? Not shaking hands is the basic halacha. A SMALL MINORITY of poskim have given a VERY WEAK heter, for cases where it can't be avoided; if you want to take advantage of that heter, then by all means do so. Just stop insisting that what you're doing is lechatchila; and stop criticizing those who don't stoop to take advantage of a heter, and stick to the basic halacha. Stop demanding that everybody be as lax as you.

70

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