Thursday, August 04, 2016



​   by Reb Gutman Locks   



A Young Religious Reader asks:

    I am at the final stages of my university course and today I had a networking event with potential employers.

    It became difficult to avoid shaking women's hands without it becoming either rude, or embarrassing. Is there a leniency for this anywhere?


Gutman's response:

     Such moments are generally awkward, especially when you are looking for work. But it is better for a potential employer to know what they would be getting than to get a job and then they see that you have these strange customs, like not working on Saturday.

     I assume you are wearing a kippa so they might understand more easily. Although I do not recommend it for you, at these moments I have used such lines as, "Sorry, I am not allowed to touch a beautiful woman's hands." If a woman would ask why, you can tell her that there is an animal sleeping inside you that loves women and you do not want to wake it up!

     What perhaps is best, although maybe still awkward, is to be sure to carry your résumé into the interview in your right hand, and when they reach out to shake hands hand the résumé to them.

     Bottom line, if they hear that it is for religious reasons and not for anti-women reasons, (not that you think they are unclean) they are usually okay with it. 


  1. Shaking hands is just a custom greeting, why make a big thing of it? Men shake hands with men, women with women, men with women. Once done, soon forgotten. Explanations in business situations about potential 'sexual attraction' are absurd.

  2. I think it's less about "sexual attraction" and more about respecting boundaries and putting a hedge around the Torah and respecting the sanctity of women, who bring us from darkness to light. Just because the Nations can't wrap their head around the idea of true holiness, does that mean the Jews should behave as the Nations do? I think not! That's my take on it, but I'm just a Noachide.

  3. Touch is fundamentally powerful. It is also as special as we make it. And it is innately special. Which means how we treat touch can change it's value to us, it does not change it's innate value.

    Touch should come from a place of consent and congruence with one's values.

    Men and women who are shomer negiah only touch people of opposite gender - outside family and children - who are their spouse.

    Can you imagine how powerful touch can be? How intimate and special when it is reserved for your soulmate?

    I can only imagine. I was born in USSR. I had no idea religion or G-d existed until I was 8 years old. Around age 38 (current age), I definitely and indisputably know that G-d is super real and super present in our lives. Talk about enlightenment.

    I agree with Rabbi Gutman. If you are a man, wear a kippah, hand your resume with your right hand, and say, "My name is [ ]. It is a pleasure to meet you. For religious reasons I do not contact members of the opposite sex."


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