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Switch to Forum Live View Question Re: Male/Female Contact
6 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2008 - 11:58PM #1
HazyElf
Posts: 213
I have a question regarding something that happened to me this evening.

I was at Starbucks, enjoying a visit with a new friend. The man who delivers our mail came in with a friend. They stopped at our table, and the mailman introduced his friend. I held out my hand to shake the friend's hand, and he just looked at me. Eventually, I lowered my hand.

Before they left to go get their coffee, the man said he's Jewish, and he is not permitted to touch a female to whom he is not related.

Is this truly part of Jewish faith?

I've never heard of this before and wanted to get feedback from people who actually know.

Thank you in advance for replying to my question. I admit that I don't know much about Judaism, but I do want to understand.

Hazy
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 4:08AM #2
ItsAllALie
Posts: 4,421

HazyElf wrote:

I have a question regarding something that happened to me this evening.

I was at Starbucks, enjoying a visit with a new friend. The man who delivers our mail came in with a friend. They stopped at our table, and the mailman introduced his friend. I held out my hand to shake the friend's hand, and he just looked at me. Eventually, I lowered my hand.

Before they left to go get their coffee, the man said he's Jewish, and he is not permitted to touch a female to whom he is not related.

Is this truly part of Jewish faith?

I've never heard of this before and wanted to get feedback from people who actually know.

Thank you in advance for replying to my question. I admit that I don't know much about Judaism, but I do want to understand.

Hazy



Hi Hazy,,,

Wow,,,how great that you came here looking for answers,,,I think that shows an open mindedness that I wish all people had :)

It is indeed part of  observant Orthodox Jewish beliefs, and neither will an Orthodox Jewish woman shake hands with a man,,,,the man was not being rude. It actually has to do more with men than women, and avoiding even the smallest temptation to engage in forbidden relations. I know it must seem strange to you, and I imagine you were a bit put off,,,but he truly meant no disrespect.

Here's an article on it :)

http://jewish.families.com/blog/why-don … with-women

Holly

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 5:36AM #3
river8101
Posts: 5,541
I would say that, such customs are not among most modern Orthodox Jewry.  It's more of a Hasidic custom  (special group of very religious Orthodox) .  Hasidim dress in black clothing, and wear hats or kippahs.  (beanies) all the time.   Women wear modest dress, and married women cover their hair.  I'd not heard of modern Orthodox practicing that custom of not shaking hands.   Hasidim Jews are a very small group within ultra-orthodox Judaism.

Btw, I don't normally shake hands with people I just meet of either sex.  I just say, hi or hello.   (especially in a place like Starbucks)
“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 7:03AM #4
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
This concept, called negi'ah (literally "touching") is just one of the many absurd and nonsensical restrictions imposed by Orthodox Judaism on its adherents. Allegedly, it's based on the bizarre belief that a man can't even shake hands with a woman, see her hair, or hear her voice singing without being overcome with lust and the urge to have sex with her right then and there. In order to protect men against these temptations, Orthodox Jewish law places all manner of restrictions on women and their conduct in public life. What this results in is a worldview where women are treated as second-class citizens, not to mention something dirty and unclean that must be avoided.

Like in fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam, misogyny (masquerading as "respect" for women) is an integral part of fundamentalist Judaism.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 7:54AM #5
Pam34
Posts: 2,649
in nieciedo's opinion, of course - not that he's totally off base or anything! I do think such 'respect' leads to restrictions on women, 'pedestal' or no, it's still 'distancing' and can be as restrictive as chains.

But still - the INTENT is not to downgrade 'women' as a class, the INTENT is to keep 'touch' something special that is shared within family only: husband -wife, parent - child.

Still - in my own opinion, if it's that big a deal to a guy, he should wear gloves, and shake hands. It is an extremely casual custom in this culture. But I'm with river, I think, in this - I'd as soon just smile and say hello, and skip the handshaking in many cases.

What I'd like to see end, is this habit some guys have of hugging or patting women - and even other guys - in casual settings. I think those hasidic men are thinking that handshaking is just the beginning of treating all human contact casually, up to and including casual sex.
And they aren't ENTIRELY wrong.
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 8:56AM #6
HazyElf
Posts: 213
[QUOTE=ItsAllALie;739883]Wow,,,how great that you came here looking for answers,,,I think that shows an open mindedness that I wish all people had :)

It is indeed part of  observant Orthodox Jewish beliefs, and neither will an Orthodox Jewish woman shake hands with a man,,,,the man was not being rude. It actually has to do more with men than women, and avoiding even the smallest temptation to engage in forbidden relations. I know it must seem strange to you, and I imagine you were a bit put off,,,but he truly meant no disrespect.

Here's an article on it :)

http://jewish.families.com/blog/why-don … with-women

Holly[/QUOTE]

Thank you, Holly, and the rest of you for your responses. I do have an open mind, and whether I agree with a point of view or not, I always seek to understand it first.

You have all helped me to understand, and I do appreciate it.

At first, I admit, I was put off by the encounter, but I realize that it was not personal. I will say that I don't feel that shaking hands with someone I've newly met is unreasonable. I think it's a way of connecting with another human being, and I don't have any underlying sexual intent, whether the person I'm meeting is male or female.

The man was dressed in black, and he was wearing a hat, but it looked like a regular ol' hat someone would wear on a rainy night, not a religious piece of clothing. I didn't know he was Jewish until he told me, and since I've never heard of the Hasidic custom, I wouldn't have known not to offer my hand in the first place.

I've learned something, and you have all helped me with that, so again...thanks! I know where to come if I've ever got more questions about Judaism.

Hazy
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 1:38PM #7
lauramushkat
Posts: 625
No because it is not done by mainstream Jews.

There are certain types of Jews where they have varried types of contact or no contact at all between children of different sexes up thru adults except with members of their families and those whom they marry.
Hugs
Laura
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 2:22PM #8
river8101
Posts: 5,541
The type of head covering is not that important.   A regular cap or hat of any kind is OK.  Same for married women.  Some wear wigs.  It's a very small group of Jews who follow this custom. 

Some Christians also have their unusual customs. The Amish-Mennonite, for instance, continue to dress in black clothing, shun the use of mechanized tools, automobiles and electrical appliance, and observe Sundays by singing only 16th-century hymns.
“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 5:07PM #9
rocketjsquirell
Posts: 15,266
Hazy

No it is to a normative Jewish practice. The person behaving in such a fashion is being intentionally rude, but then again the Ultra-Orthodox (the only ones who would do such a thing) tend to be rude even to their fellow Jews.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2008 - 7:20PM #10
Beautiful_Dreamer
Posts: 5,152

lauramushkat wrote:

No because it is not done by mainstream Jews.

There are certain types of Jews where they have varried types of contact or no contact at all between children of different sexes up thru adults except with members of their families and those whom they marry.
Hugs
Laura



Is the 'no touching' thing applied to people of different faiths? Meaning I have known of some people who have strict customs but they don't hold people outside their tradition to that same standard. Or they have a different way of behavior when addressing someone of a different faith than they would someone of their own faith. And do the same standards apply to both genders (i.e. would a Jewish woman who hugs a Gentile man as a friend be looked at funny)?

More where that came from...

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