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It is forbidden to affectionately touch individuals of the opposite gender.[1]


  1. It is forbidden for one to initiate a handshake with the opposite gender.[2][3]
  2. It is still forbidden to initiate a handshake with the opposite gender if one is wearing gloves.[4]
  3. 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.[5]

Public Transportation

  1. Taking a subway or bus at a crowded time is permitted even though you might bump into the opposite gender.[6][7]
  2. However, many believe it is proper to avoid sitting next to one of the opposite gender on a public bus or train.[8][9]
  3. 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).[10] Others say it is better to sit, as standing will likely expose one's eyes to more inappropriate sights.[11]
  4. One should not stand up when sitting next to someone of the opposite gender if it will denigrate G-d's name.[12]

Mixed Dancing

  1. Mixed dancing is forbidden.[13]


  1. Ideally, one should try to see a doctor of the same gender.[14] However, it is permitted to see a doctor of the opposite gender if there is no other option.[15]



  1. Rambam Issurei Biah 21:1
  2. Shemot Raba Bo 16, Shaarei Teshuvah 3:80 , Sefer Chassidim 1090, Od Yosef Chaiy Shoftim pg. 151, Sdei Chemed 3 Marechet 100 Klal 7, Marechet Chatan VeKallah 12 and 26, Igros Moshe O.C. 1:113, E.H. 1:56 and 4:32-9, Mishneh Halachos 6:223, Otzer Haposkim 20:3-1, Yalkut Yosef Even Haezer 21:21, Nitei Gavriel 52:1, Az Nidbaru 2:73
  3. 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.
  4. Sefer Chassidim 1090, Od Yosef Chai Shoftim pg. 151
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L'isha 60:19)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Eizer Mikdash Even Haezer Sif 21 (quoted and then rejected by Shevet Halevi Volume 4 Siman 136)
  12. Responsa Vayan Yosef Yoreh Deah 144:2
  13. Zichron Yosef OC 17 even says that it is a terrible sin.
  14. Nishmas Avraham Yoreh Deah 195
  15. 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.