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Apr 4, 2017

Interesting Psak: shaking hands of women

Chief Rabbi of Israel Rav Yitzchak Yosef has issued a psak saying that it is prohibited to shake hands with a woman in a senior position of authority as a sign of respect.

Rav Yosef explicitly disagreed with rabbonim who say it is allowed. He said we have to go according to halacha and not just say "muttar, muttar, muttar" to things. Not everything is allowed -some things are prohibited according to halacha.

Rav Yosef brought as an example an incident from when his father, Rav Ovadia Yosef, was set to receive the prestigious Israel Prize on Yom Haatzmaut in 1970. At the time the Prime Minister was Golda Meir and she extended her hand to shake his hand, but Rav Ovadia was worried especially because it would be photographed and seen all over so he made a motion with his hand and did not shake but gave her a warm blessing and everything was fine.

Rav Yosef also brought his own example of having traveled to many places around the world and having met with many important women in government. A female ambassador came to meet him once and extended her hand to shake. Rav Yosef says he gave her effusive blessings and she completely forgot about the handshake that did not happen.
source: Kikar

I like how he brings personal examples to make his point, as if that strengthens the halacha. 

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  1. i the point made by bringing examples was simply to say that you shouldn't be afraid that by going by the halacha, that you will transgress publicly embarrassing someone. Which was a reason given sometimes for allowing handshaking between genders in public (not the only one) That by acting similarly to the examples with brachot and personal warmth that people will not be offended in the least. That has generally been my experience in not shaking hands with men. He's saying the halacha is the halacha and this is how you implement it like a mentsch.

  2. I don't think he's trying to strengthen the halacha at all through his personal examples. He's trying to strengthen and motivate people who might find following the halacha too difficult due to being worried about someone's reaction. Rav Yosef accomplishes this by mentioning that both he and his father successfully avoided any ill will despite not shaking hands.

  3. I would posit that big famous rabbis not shaking hands, especially in public where they will be seen to be setting an example, is nothing like a businessman not shaking hands with a businesswoman or with the president of the company, for example.

  4. Rafi...tou have tour history wrong.. the refusal to shake hands was NOT well recoeves

  5. he said it, not me. I dont remember the incident at all.


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