Shaking a woman's hand in a business setting


In business, I meet thousands of people on a regular basis at shows, events, and meetings. When I meet new people we shake hands and introduce ourselves. Many times the people I meet are women and they stick their hand out to shake mine.

Am I permitted to shake hands with these women in these business settings?


One is not permitted to shake hands with someone of the opposite gender even in a business setting.

My grandfather, Rav Yitzchak Abadi, told me that when he was younger he went to the Chazon Ish to discuss this question and the Chazon Ish told him that shaking hands with the opposite gender is יהרג ואל יעבור which means it is forbidden.


Wow Ok so what is the best way for me to handle such situations in a way that can be understanding and avoid insulting or embarrassing these women?


I’ve been in business for many years and I attend meetings and shows as well so I completely understand what you’re talking about. There are several things you can do to eliminate embarrassing someone for not shaking their hand.

  1. You can potentially avoid the issue altogether by holding a ‘bag’ in one hand and a ‘phone’ in another. When people see both your hands occupied they seldom try shaking your hands.

  2. What I do very often is smile and tell them that for religious reasons I don’t shake hands with women and then I immediately tell them that “its nice meeting you too”. This reassures them that you aren’t trying to be rude but rather very respectful. Every time I’ve done this these women were always respectful and understanding and never had any problem with it. In fact many times they expressed admiration for following my religious beliefs.

I think many years ago non Jews were not nearly as exposed to these kind of religious beliefs and therefore may have been less understanding. Today though, there are so many religions and beliefs that people have become more understanding and respectful to others religious rules whether or not they understand or agree with them.


I just came across this article which is relevant to our discussion.