(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 21 May 2000 23:32:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Negia

QUESTION: (Ths question was written by a high school teenager)
<  <  ...If the halacha is that all girls from the beginning of their
menstruation are included in this prohibition, then how do so many of my
friends go around touching their girlfriends in very non-accidental ways? I
have been searching for any possible heter for their actions, while telling
them that it might not be a good idea to be doing such things, but have
come up empty. If the Rambam states this so clearly, how do so many people
blatantly transgress this halacha? Please respond.>  >

Allow me to answer as an actuary and statistician. At the simplest level we are
being asked why people sin (NOTE: The law is clear that there is no reason to permit
holding hands).

The classical reason for people sinning is that they don't think it will
lead to anything. Here are some classical sinners: (a) Why did King Solomon
marry non jewish wives if the Bible explicitly prohibited it? ANSWER:
Because the Bible gives as reason "They will lead you astray" and he
reasoned that since he was the wisest of all men he would not go astray.
(b) Why did Chava (Gen 3) give Adam to eat from the tree after God told
them not to. ANSWER: According to one opinion, Adam told Chava not to TOUCH
the tree (NEGIAH!). The snake pushed her into the tree and said 'See...you
haven't died!'. Thus Chava did not think eating from it would lead to death.

Now to get back to holding hands and statistics. The reason for not holding hands
with girlfriends is because it might lead to further activity. So the
people who are sinning don't think anything further will happen... 'I can
handle it' is what they say.

There is actually a sharp distinction that will answer these 16 year old
sinners: True, if you hold hands at 16 you probably will NOT go further
NOW. But 2-3 YEARS down the road you WILL probably be going further. There
are in fact statistics on this (which in our info-savvy age) any 16 year
old can find: We know what percentage of people who hold hands will be
giving good night kisses in a year or two. Of the people who are giving
good night kisses we know what percent will regularly be involved in
kissing etc ... Finally we know what percent of these people will violate
prohibitions that will cut them off from the Jewish people.

So in summary my 4 part answer to MB is: (a) You are correct: there is no
reason to allow your friends to allow NEGIAH (b) Your friends are partially
correct: If they hold hands now then they probably will NOT sin NOW (c) But
halacha is correct: Your friends are more likely to be sinning a few years
down the road (d) So you, did the right thing in writing to Torah
Forum--if you continue to abstain from Negiah you will see 10 years from
now that you have a much better life than those of your friends.

Wishing you luck in both Torah Study, Understanding and Practice

Russell Jay Hendel;RHendel@Towson.Edu
Moderator Rashi is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/