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I'm Completely Shaken By This

Sunday, 25 April, 2021 - 9:01 pm

Question of the Week

Why will my rabbi not shake a woman's hand? I find it highly offensive. I would think in this day and age women could be treated equally to men, not as inferior untouchables. Why can't a religious man have the basic courtesy to shake hands with me?

Answer

Does anyone shake hands anymore? I thought the hand shaking tradition died a quiet death during the pandemic. People stopped shaking hands, a nd curiously, no one took it personally. 

When someone refuses to shake hands for health reasons, it is like saying, "Lovely to see you. If you don't mind I won't touch you because you may be infected, or unhygienic, or both. I'd rather not get sick from you."

This is completely acceptable. No one takes offense at you suspecting them of being dirty or diseased. 

When someone refuses to shake hands with the opposite gender, it is like saying, "Lovely to see you. If you don't mind, I reserve physical touch between genders for members of my immediate family. The only woman who is not my blood relative that I will touch is my wife.  There's nothing wrong with you. It is actually nothing to do with you. It's about keeping the magic power of touch within my marriage."

And it goes both ways. Just as your rabbi won't shake a woman's hand, his wife won't shake a man's hand. This is equal opportunity non-shaking. So please take no offense. You are not being avoided like the plague. And even that isn't offensive.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

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