MK Moshe Feiglin is used to answering questions about his political views. This week he faced a different sort of question as a female supporter asked him why he shakes women’s hands in Knesset.
Jewish tradition prohibits affectionate touch between men and women who are not married to each other or related by blood. In many orthodox Jewish communities men and women avoid hugs and handshakes, preferring to greet each other verbally or with a nod.
MK Feiglin explained on Facebook that he used to avoid shaking hands with women, “until I was told that it is not forbidden at all, because it is touching for the sake of politeness, not an affectionate touch.”
He argued that preserving good relations between the various sectors of Israeli society is more important than observing religious customs that are not, he said, strictly necessary. “I feel that the walls that have risen up between various parts of the nation, the inability to listen and to connect, threatens us more than the danger of giving up a stringency,” he wrote.
Feiglin added that he had discussed the matter with a rabbi to be sure his stance was in line with Jewish law (halakha). He ended by thanking the woman who had asked “for your important question.”