Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Why doesn’t the rabbi touch his girlfriend? Is he a freak? No. He’s just an authentic Orthodox Jew. All Jews are expected by Jewish law to not touch the opposite sex (except for spouse and family). Most Orthodox Jews observe this publicly though some Modern Orthodox Jews don’t worry about it. I saw a Modern Orthodox congregational rabbi walking hand in hand with his GF the other day. This is rare in my community. An Orthodox rabbi who hugs women is a shanda (scandal).

Chaim Amalek emails: “In New York this increasingly extreme mindset (things were very different among the orthodox fifty years ago) has led to attempts to impose gender separation on public bus lines and even sidewalks in parts of Brooklyn. Modest or not, what is the impact of gender separation on men and women? My experience as a one-time hebrew school student was that the greater the degree of gender separation, the lower the ability of the males to interact with the broader world. Which, in the end, may be the true goal of the orthodox rabbinate now pushing for it. Luke, can you get around this in your AT practice by wearing rubber gloves while working on female clients?”

I can get around it because I’m a pro. Doctors aren’t expected to observe this law. Nor are chiropractors and other professionals.

Robert emails: Please Reb Luke, do us all a favor and call/write that Modern Orthodox Rabbi with the following.

“Dear Rabbi Chaim Yankel, amv’sh

I witnessed you walking hand-in-hand with your darling girlfriend
Rochel Leah last Tuesday at 3pm in front of the bagel shop.

Please either admit that it’s a test you (and many others) sometimes
fail, or explain why it’s permissible. If the former, so be it, I
understand, and your secret is safe with me. If the latter, please
come out and explain and you will have thousands of new followers and
perhaps orthodox singles will finally be seen as respectable adults
rather than as pathetic (no negiah), transgressive (negiah with a
partner) or disgusting (negiah without a partner).”

That’s the idea – please call or e-mail him directly, make it clear
that you are not threatening or blackmailing him, and see how he
explains himself after having been “busted” by you. He might just say
“no way, mate, I’m denying everything for the record” and leave things
as they are, with just your existing blog entry about an anonymous
rabbi for whom orthodox dating isn’t humiliating and frustrating.
Heck, maybe they’ve already eloped and were doing nothing wrong other than the faux pas of Public Display of Affection and Public Display of Niddah Status when your Wife is not Obviously Pregnant.

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs Mondays at 7:00 pm PST on the Rabbi Rabbs cam and on YouTube. Facebook Fan Page.

This week we study Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24).

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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