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Saturday, 21 Elul, 5779
  |  September 21, 2019

Can’t Shake a Woman’s Hand

What can be wrong with a simple handshake between a man and a woman? In 1976 the Rebbe wrote about the halachic matter. Full Story

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Hashgoche Protis
Guest
Hashgoche Protis

I just had a huge discussion with my brother last shabbos about the inian. He said that we should use good sense!
THANK YOU REBBE!!!

Bochur from Motown!!!
Guest
Bochur from Motown!!!

Why can’t we mashpiem and shluchim come to Yeshivas or high schools and speak about the topic with the bochurim and girls!
Its a very complicated subject that comes up very often on mivtzoim etc.
The same thing applies with many other topics that should really be discussed with young bochurim and girls, and for some odd reason people are to embarresed, or lazy, and as a result of that, we are not being educated the proper way!

Att Women and Girls
Guest
Att Women and Girls

Very often we are apologetic and afraid to say the truth, that we prefer not to handshake. But in my experience if you are polite and honest about your situation, the man will be respectful, and deep down, impressed by your strength of character.

At the White House
Guest
At the White House

It was initially difficult to explain to the previous President and First Lady, who hail from a very touchy/feely state, that this is our custom. To make a long story short, they respected it and by the time their term ended, it had become their custom for their aide to ask anyone with a frum appearance – before they are introduced – whether they will be shaking hands with The President or First lady (and vice versa regarding the rebbetzin/shluchah). It is still their procedure there. The same now applies to where the man and his wife stand in the… Read more »

the rebbe!
Guest
the rebbe!

they say the story that a women struck out her hand to the rebbe and the rebbe said: (the words aren’t exact but this is the toichen) my mother always told me thet i shouldnt touch some thing that dosint belong to me !

way to make it easier
Guest
way to make it easier

In many years of mivtzoyim/shlichus 3 tips that make it easier:
Like Rabbi shemtov said that “In my/our rabbinical order/chassidic circles it is our custom that men and woman dont shake hands”.
If it is a couple – if you are a man try to avoid shaking the man’s hand ( so the problem doesnt arise with his) and the same for women.
Vod vhu haikar to make it easier -expect that IT WILL BE A LITTLE AWKWARD BUT A MINUTE LATER IT IS NO BIG DEAL

Not just shaking hands
Guest
Not just shaking hands

I heard this story second or third hand so I will not use any names in case my details are off. The winner of the Miss Universe pageant in a particular year was brought to meet various dignitaries in her home country. Among those she met was someone who today is a very prominent Shaliach. When they met, she extended her hand and the Shaliach explained that he could not shake her hand. So she kissed him. My point is that it is my practice and it may be of benefit to include a brief explanation that precludes all physical… Read more »

bochur in OT
Guest
bochur in OT

In my experiance on Mivtzoim, it often helps to either put your hands behind your back or stand a lifflte further than usual from the person. This generally indicates to the person that you are not so interested in a handshake and usually avoids the situation altogether.

another point
Guest
another point

In addition to the good points above, I also try to add “Its a pleasure to meet you” and give a smile so that the person still sees a genuine “sever ponim yofos”.

A BB now attends Chabad because shlucha did not shake hands
Guest
A BB now attends Chabad because shlucha did not shake hands

One of the BBtim in our Chabad House continues to repeat to all that what brought him to Chabad was the strong impression he got when the shlucha did not want to shake his hand when he met her the first time.

#4 - Rabbi Shemtov
Guest
#4 - Rabbi Shemtov

“The same now applies to where the man and his wife stand in the photo formation”

Can you please explain this, i’m a Shliach and i’m curious to know how a photo formation should be.

Thanks

Now Everyone Will Know
Guest
Now Everyone Will Know

Q. Why are ultra-Orthodox men so regressive in their treatment of women? You wouldn’t ever shake my hand, would you?
A. No.

Q. Why not?
A.That’s the custom. It’s a matter of modesty, the sexes not mingling.

Now people will know.

Kidush Hashem!

What about frum Physicians?
Guest
What about frum Physicians?

What should Physicians do? It does not make a patient comfortable when you don’t shake their hand to introduce yourself but then you are doing the things a doctor does….

great lines everyone has!
Guest
great lines everyone has!

What always works for me too is similar, “I cant shake your hand for religious reasons, but I’m so pleased to meet you!,” with a huge smile

To 5
Guest
To 5

There are no magically perfect lines. Therefore, if you see the Rebbe said something to one person, doesn’t mean that the Rebbe would have said that to another. The Rebbe obviously had the wisdom to know what to say to whom.

Bekitzur, there is no one line that fits all.

its nice to see everyone unite
Guest
its nice to see everyone unite

in the comments for a good cause, and not just arguing and negativity… Give credit where its due!

Speechless
Guest
Speechless

Having been to countless receptions, including British royalty, the overarching solution to multiple “hits” within seconds of each other, was to hold a glass of orange juice or water in the right hand, and to give a broad and friendly smile with a slight bow (in Asian style.) Liquor is assur (yes, many do not know it, but it is in the same category as bishul akum, and right near it in Shulchan Aruch). This strategy fell down once, when standing in line for a reception to Prince Charles (on his own) and he was followed by the Prime Minister… Read more »

D. Kahn
Guest
D. Kahn

If the lady is non Jewish I often point out that I also do not shake hands with Jewish women. This avoids her thinking that I regard her as impure.
I also say that as a Jew I am only allowed to touch what is permitted to me.
Sometimes, a valid excuse might be to have both hands full.
Another way out if you are meeting a couple is to shake his hand twice and with a twinkle say “That one was for your wife”

politics vs business
Guest
politics vs business

In a political venue this is tolorated and respected. (At least people say its respected outwardly.) In a professional world where frum people work as a professional in business and are not a rav or shliach it simply does not fly and realistically is a barrier to professional growth not matter what Human Resources in any company says about it. Going to a meeting with many people and not shaking hands will leave the person as an outcast. Anyone who feels strongly about this should talk to their mishpia and plan a profession where this important inyan can be maintained-… Read more »

To 5
Guest
To 5

I don’t think that line would make sense to anyone who sticks out their hand for you to shake…they are offering you to shake their hand as is appropriate in this culture. “my mother taught me…..” doesn’t explain anything.

1 who knows
Guest
1 who knows

#19 you are so right, it does not fly… not in a professional business environment nor in politics. R. Shem Tov and Speechless only know the outward appearance of supposed acceptance, actually in the inner chambers it is discussed and is not as respected nor understood as they think or would have you believe. I would advise all who have an aversion to shaking hands of the opposite sex to refrain from seeking employment in certain professions.

To #13: There's touch, and there's touch
Guest
To #13: There's touch, and there's touch

Since I was not always frum, I know about the doctor’s “hello” handshake, and it’s not the same as routine-medical-exam touching. If the doc is worthy of the diploma hanging on the wall, his/her medical-exam touch is respectful, even reverent of the human body as the receptacle of the neshama, and halacha permits this exam. The handshake is social, and I don’t even want it, plus halacha doesn’t permit it — pure and simple. If someone really has an issue with this, they can do their best to find a doctor of their own gender. Thank you, Rabbi Levi Shemtov… Read more »

sorry 21
Guest
sorry 21

yiras shamayim is what you need, you dont need to do anything wrong to get to where you can

THE BEST SOLUTION
Guest
THE BEST SOLUTION

What I always do:

I say with a big smile: “I’m used to give my hand to men, but my hearth to women…”.
And everyone laughs and the “bad moment” is over.

A Shliach in Europe

a little humor
Guest
a little humor

With many people if they’re not ultra dull, I use this “the last woman I shook hands with had five of my kids” they ussually laugh and get the point

to  n 15
Guest
to n 15

the rebbe is the rebbe and he knows exactly what to say to anybody alweys with a reason behind that !!! but we are simple people so we do need to have a respecful line to make our point CLEAR and ast the same time make kidush hashem .

Why?
Guest
Why?

@23 Why do you assume from my statement I need yiras shamayim, how do you know that? do you know me? really? I made a comment regarding statements not all are privy to, how did that turn and become a judgement regarding me? Who needs yiras shamayim ?

To 19 and others
Guest
To 19 and others

My earlier comment is #7. I am in the field of mental health and see clients for therapy as well as other circumstances. So please don’t tell me about the business world and what is needed to get ahead. It is possible that my not shaking hands has “cost” me in some ways, but this is about priorities. My priority is to follow halacha over opportunities for “professional growth”, which is something I also value. Before I started seeing clients I called a Rov, Rabbi Y. Schusterman of LA. I asked him specifically if there is a heter in my… Read more »

I found this online...
Guest
I found this online...

Shaking hands in Halacha Although declining to shake hands can create awkwardness in professional contexts, it is sometimes believed that Halacha does not permit even returning a handshake to a member of the opposite sex (i.e. where the other party extends his/her hand first; with regard to initiating a handshake, see footnote). In reality, because it does not clearly satisfy the requirement of Derech Chiba v’Taavah, and because of the extenuating circumstances involved, returning a handshake is a matter of Halachic dispute. Some authorities prohibit returning a handshake, even to avoid embarrassing the other person. For example, the Chazon Ish… Read more »

to #2
Guest
to #2

very good point about educating the chabad youth about shomer/mingling with the other side,rarely do schools bring up the subject,even if it is tough,its should be discussed,and as a result ppl wouldnt be embarrassed to ask questions,if they knew it may help the situation
p.s. another good line for bachurim on mivtzoim “we’re not supposed to touch beautiful women”

...
Guest
...

It is important to point out that it is not a Jewish/gentile thing. I often do this by pointing out that I would be pleased to shake with her husband, if that is applicable, and that my wife would be pleased to shake hands with her.

I have met with many dignitaries, including heads of state (presidents), and they have always accepted my explanations without embarrassment.

Don't assume they take it a certain way
Guest
Don't assume they take it a certain way

I recall one incident when I was sure that the lady had not accepted my explanation and was not happy. Towards the end of our conversation I tried to explain my position again and she told me that she had accepted my explanation earlier and was long “over it”. I knew she was telling the truth, unless she was a good actress, because she had to think for a second to remember what it was that I was referring to, so it clearly was not on her mind.

anonymous
Guest
anonymous

My friend’s husband works in an office that often has meetings. at the end of the meetings all of his co-workers would shake hands (including the women) so every meeting he came with his right hand bandaged up. it worked for a few months and then it was getting out of hand -pun not intended. people realized what he was up too. so instead of thinking of crazy tricks, sneezing in your hand etc. . . just say why you dont shake hands of the opposite gender (in a polite way) and be proud and they will respect you!

mivtzoim??
Guest
mivtzoim??

are you seriously suggesting to bochurim to say “we’re not supposed to touch beautiful women” while on mivtzoyim?? i sincerely hope that comment was supposed to be a joke that i didn’t get. hard to tell, though.

Where There's A Will, There's A way
Guest
Where There's A Will, There's A way

Attending my university graduation ceremony shortly after becoming observant, the protocol was for the dean to shake hands with each graduate and hand them their diploma. Even though this scene was to play out hundreds of times that evening from undergraduates to post-doctorates, I had notified the school in advance that I would not shake hands with the dean but that I wanted to attend the ceremony. When my moment came on graduation night, the dean handed my diploma to me, bowed and knowingly smiled to me ( I had never met him before). I felt his message to me… Read more »

politics vs business part 2
Guest
politics vs business part 2

Being consistent is also important. Sorry 33, I feel for your friend’s husband. You cannot change what you do or it sends a bad message like you cannot be trusted and makes office life difficult- it will also hinder growth. For all intensive purposes, medical professions can get by and not worry about this from a career progression perspective. It is folks out in business where this is what we can dub a “hot topic.” It is highly important to talk to one’s mishpia on this matter and there is no one size fits all for this in particular. Someone… Read more »

mivtzoim
Guest
mivtzoim

I must agree with #34 – that’s most definitely NOT a good line for mivtzoim.

in my experience
Guest
in my experience

in business it is the colture in the proffesional world, that you shake a woman’s hand, youdont make a big deal about it, for a Rabbi i can understand, but for business, it is polite and the sign of sincerety, and integrity.

It is foolish to start explaining someone that you really wanna do business withh them, but you dont want to shake thier hand.

meanwhile it does not work for me.

Boruch Hashem
Guest
Boruch Hashem

For rabbi levi and Nechama shemtov!!
They are from the wisest and best Shluchim in the world and do so much selflessly for yidden in so many countries!!
Keep up your holy work!
You make such big kidushay Hashem

Gut Gebentcht Year to All
Guest
Gut Gebentcht Year to All

Um… is this inyon truly a minhag, because I am under the impression that it is more like halochoh?!

My way of dealing with it is a combination: I smile, tell the person that I don’t mean to offend him but my religion does not allow me to shake hands with men. Usually, they smile back and tell me it’s not a problem.

But, I like the line about it being a great pleasure to meet them anyways. I will try to use that in the future, iyh.

i agree with no. 34 and 37!!!!
Guest
i agree with no. 34 and 37!!!!

i hope bochrim dont use that!
we’re supposed to make a kiddush hashem and not…………….!!

number 24:
Guest
number 24:

hahahahaha!!! so funny!! good reply!!

not Jewish
Guest
not Jewish

I am a women and in business and other situations, I was taught that a handshake is a polite gesture, a greeting, one of respect and nothing more. A way of saying its a pleasure to meet you. I accidentally did that to a man who had his hands in his pockets, and I reached for his, hand, I was so used to working with shy people that I was inadvertently very forward when I did it. He said “I am a rabbi”. Being one who didn’t understand the culture and it was at a Seniors home primarily affluent Jewish… Read more »

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