This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
It is forbidden to affectionately touch individuals of the opposite gender.
- It is forbidden for one to initiate a handshake with the opposite gender.
- It is still forbidden to initiate a handshake with the opposite gender if one is wearing gloves.
- Some poskim hold that it is permitted to shake someone of the opposite gender's hand in a professional context if she extends her hand first. However, other poskim forbid doing so.
- Taking a subway or bus at a crowded time is permitted even though you might bump into the opposite gender.
- However, many believe it is proper to avoid sitting next to one of the opposite gender on a public bus or train.
- Some say that in a case where it will not denigrate G-d's name, one should stand instead of sitting next to someone of the opposite gender (if possible). Others say it is better to sit, as standing will likely expose one's eyes to more inappropriate sights.
- One should not stand up when sitting next to someone of the opposite gender if it will denigrate G-d's name.
- It is advisable for one to think of Torah thoughts when riding public transportation in order to combat potential improper thoughts that may stem from inadvertent contact with the opposite gender.
- Mixed dancing is forbidden.
- Ideally, one should try to see a doctor of the same gender. However, it is permitted to see a doctor of the opposite gender if there is no other option.
- Many hold that it is forbidden to get a haircut from someone of the opposite gender as this is considered to be a display of affection.
- However, some hold that there is some room to be lenient if one can be sure that the contact is not affectionate and it has no chance of leading to inappropriate thoughts. One still must be very careful in this situation and it is best not to be lenient in this issue.
- 10 Minute Halacha on Female Barbers by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz
- Halachot of Shomer Negiah by Rabbi Jesse Horn
- Shiur on Commuting on Mass Transit and the Inevitable Contact Between Men and Women by Rabbi Ari Wasserman
- Rambam Issurei Biah 21:1
- Shaarei Teshuvah 3:80 , Sefer Chassidim 1090, Od Yosef Chaiy Shoftim pg. 151, Igros Moshe O.C. 1:113, E.H. 1:56 and 4:32-9, Mishneh Halachos 6:223, Otzer Haposkim 20:3-1, Az Nidbaru 2:73, as quoted by Rav Ari Wasserman. See article here
- Od Yosef Chai Shoftim pg. 151, Igros Moshe O.C. 1:113 explain that a handshake is inherently considered affectionate. Beit Yosef 195, Sdei Chemed 3 Marechet 100 Klal 7 hold that even if it would not be considered affectionate, it would still be a violation of the Rabbinic decree to touch the opposite gender even not affectionately. Sefardim should follow this opinion.
- Sefer Chassidim 1090, Od Yosef Chai Shoftim pg. 151
- Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe EH 1:56 writes that some rabbis who permit shaking a woman's hand if she extends hers he would understand that it was based on the concept of that it wasn't derech chiba. However, he writes that he thinks that it is a weak argument to rely on.
- Igrot Moshe EH 2:14 writes that it is permitted to take the subway or buses even if it is likely that one might bump into a woman. According to the Shach YD 157:10 and 195:20, since it isn't derech chiba it isn't forbidden to touch a married woman or niddah. He argues that even according to the Shulchan Aruch 195:17 who is strict regarding your wife when she is a niddah if it isn't derech chiba, that is only a stringency relevant to one's wife since it could lead to derech chiba. However, for other woman even Shulchan Aruch could be lenient. Igrot Moshe follows the Shach. He adds that if this type of touching will lead him to have a hirhur if he has to go to work at that work he can go and try to avoid the hirhur by thinking about Torah. If he can't help himself because he knows he's going to be aroused then he may not go to work that way. But he says that it is forbidden to have such a lustful nature.
- Mishna Halachot vol 4, 186- Rav Menashe Klein agrees with Rav Moshe that it it is mutter to ride the subway or bus as the contact made with the female is not derech chiba. However, even if one holds that contact that is not derech chiba is assur, the contact on the bus and subway was still unintentional and, therefore, permitted. He offers advice that when one is riding the subway or bus one should look into a sefer and keep his mind on Torah thoughts.
- Pesachim 25b- The Gemara discusses the idea of a "forbidden benefit" and if one is obligated to change their path in order to avoid a certain pleasure or benefit. This relates to the idea of riding on a subway or bus as the question comes up if one needs to change their path in order to avoid the potential benefit of contact with the opposite gender. When referring to this gemara, Rabbi Ari Wasserman quotes the Ateres Paz (Part 1, vol. III, Even HaEzer 6) which states that even if one is able to take a taxi to work, he does not need to as this is a very expensive option and he does not need to pay to avoid the subway or bus. Rabbi Wasserman also quotes the She’arim Metzuyanim B’Halachah (vol. IV, 152:11) which states that if the contact on the subway or bus is unintentional it is mutter. Tosfot writes that sometimes a different path is possible, although it is a tircha to take that path. According to tosfot it is as if this path does not exist and he is permitted to take the easier path.
- Baba Basra 57b- The gemara writes that women used to do laundry by the river bank and would roll up their skirts in order to avoid getting them wet. The gemara describes a man who walks on the river bank with his eyes covered to ensure that he does not see the women dressed immodestly. If the man could have gone another way then he is considered a rasha. However, it is a ones if he has no other path. This seems to imply that if one has another path then he must avoid taking the more crowded subway.
- Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L'isha 60:19)
- Az Nidberu part 5, 48- Rabbi Wasserman explains that Rav Binyonim Zilber in his Az Niberu mostly agrees with Rav Moshe in that there is no specific prohibition of sitting with a woman on the subway or bus. However, Rav Zilber argues that there may be a problem if the contact between the male and female is generating heat. In the winter there may be room to be lenient in a pressing situation as the heat generated is mostly due to the bulky nature of the winter clothing and not the physical contact.
- Responsa Vayan Yosef Yoreh Deah 144:2. Shevet Halevi Volume 4 Siman 136 holds that it is better to stand, but one is obligated to close one's eyes when standing.
- Eizer Mikdash Even Haezer Sif 21 (quoted and then rejected by Shevet Halevi Volume 4 Siman 136)
- Responsa Vayan Yosef Yoreh Deah 144:2
- Rambam Hilchot Isurei Biah 21:19
- Zichron Yosef OC 17 even says that it is a terrible sin.
- Nishmas Avraham Yoreh Deah 195
- Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (as quoted by Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner)
- Gemara Ta’anit 21b brings a story of Abba Umna who was a doctor and is praised for putting the men and women in separate areas and for having a special garment that covered the women when he was treating them. This Gemara implies that it is unique and praiseworthy that Abbau Umna did this, which shows that the ordinary person is not required to do these things. This can be a source for male doctors being permitted to touch female patients while treating them.
- Gemara Bava Metziah 91a quotes Rav Yehuda who says that a professional who causes two animals to mate directly is not doing anything wrong because he is involved in his professional job. There is no problem of Pritzus because he is busy with his professional job, so he will not have any inappropriate urges.
- Shach Yoreh Deah 195:20 says that according to the Rambam, the only issur of negiah is when the negiah is with hana’a, or pleasure, but in medical care there is no pleasure involved so it would be muttar to treat a patient of the opposite gender.
- Yitzchak Yeranen 2:1
- 10 minute Halacha on Female Barbers by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz (17:20)