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HALACHA-----shaking hands w/ women

The rabbi with the pulse thing is a bit more understandable, since technically taking a pulse is a medical act, but if there were women around who could do it, besides which, there was no major need to take your pulse at all, I do not see why he was allowed to do that. You should ask him, as well.

As far as shaking hands, the rabbi is in error. Although there are people who believe that, the Steipler writes in his letters in the name of the Chazon Ish that it is absolutely prohibited. It's simple logic: If someone asked you to call them on Shabbos and you telling them sorry I cant do that would embarrass them for asking, would you me mechalel shabbos to prevent their embarrassment? Or if someone offered you non-kosher food and refusing would embarrass them would you eat treif?

And what if a woman tried to hug this rabbi - innocently, at a wedding for instance, or even to kiss him - also one of those social kisses - would he respond in kind so as not to embarrass the woman?

There is no heter to do an aveirah because someone else did not realize that you would not do it and feel awkward that they asked you to.

To say that shaking hands is permitted because it is not derech chibah is against the halachic ruling of the Chazon Ish, Rav Moshe Feinstein, the Stepiler and others. There is nothing close to any equal and opposite opinions that say otherwise. Although there was a rav long ago in America who rules that way, Rav Moshe writes that is you should not rely on the heter. There are no such authorities who disagree.

In any case, your comparison to taking change from a woman is an error, because there, you have no intention nor desire to touch her hand. The contact was accidental. In this case, you are purposely and willingly taking her hand.

The Steipler continues his letter by saying that the "heter" of embarrassment is absolutely baseless and wrong. There is no heter to help someone violate an issur by shaking their hand because they will feel uncomfortable if you don't.

There is, once again, nothing close to such authority that has any other opinion.

And there is no authority at all that holds that you may commit an aveirah, D'oraisa or D'rabonon, because the person who asked you to commit the aveirah will be embarrassed if you don't. You say "I am sorry but I don't do this."

A chicken-and-cheese sandwich is also only prohibited d'rabonon. If someone offered one to you, would you eat if because refusing it would embarrass them?

Even if shaking hands was considered a "machlokes", which is should not be, it is a question of an issur d'oraysa. Even worse, as per the Steipler's letter above. There are numerous actions that are subject to dispute whether they are chilul shabbos or not. Would you even do a "sofek" chilul shabbos because someone asked you to because politely saying no would embarrass them?

The idea is unfounded and inconsistent. The only place where such an idea is ever conceived, the only sin that anyone would ever permit because it would embarrass the ones who ask you to do it, is shaking hands with a woman. This makes no sense, and of course is wrong.

Moderator- about the handshaking, my family works in kiruv and my dad asked more than one shaila about shaking a woman's hand if she initiates it, and he was told that its fine.


Rav Moshe says not to rely on this heter. The Steipler brings in the name of the Chazon Ish, and concurs, that it is absolutely assur. Until someone comes up with either sufficient proof against these great Poskim or something close to authorities of the same or even similar stature who disagree, you should follow the poskim above. Especially since this is a question of a D'Oraisa prohibition.

Who gives the heter?

It was Rabbi Breuer ZTL.

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