Thursday, February 14, 2013

Shake it up Moshe, Part III: MK Feiglin says nothing wrong with shaking women's hands (from YNET)

After supporting gays, legalization of cannabis, ultra-rightist Likud MK turns to issue of modesty to show his liberal side
Akiva Novick

Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin ( Likud) who is commonly associated with extremist political and religious views, made a surprising announcement on Thursday: "I decided to shake hands with women. There is no halacha against it if it's done out of courtesy."

The issue arose after Feiglin was photographed shaking the hands of female Yesh Atid MKs, following his debut Knesset speech.

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The pictures were discussed in religious websites, causing Feiglin to post an explanation on his Facebook page:

"In the past I used to not shake hands until I found out there is no prohibition against when it is a gesture of courtesy as opposed to a touch to demonstrate affection."

המפגש של הקהילה הגאה עם ח"כ פייגלין בבר נוער (צילום: ירון ברנר)

Feiglin at the gay community meeting (Photo: Yaron Brener)

This is the latest in several occasions in which Feiglin reached headlines for espousing surprisingly liberal views.

In the past few weeks he expressed support for legalization of soft drugs and has also met with gay community leaders.

The hand-shake issue is considered a sensitive problem, which often arises within the religious sector due to the custom's prevalence.

Rabbi Yuval Sherlo has in the past ruled that it is permissible to shake a hand if it was already extended to prevent insult, and similar rulings were issued by settler leader Rabbi Dov Lior.

Despite the rabbis' permission, Feiglin's Facebook post has instigated a heated debate. Alongside dozens of comments of praise, some criticized the MK, even demanding he retract his statement.

Feiglin is not the first MK to raise the issue. Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely is well known for refraining from shaking hands out of religious sentiments.

"It's true that Tzipi doesn't shake hands, but she will not embarrass someone who extended their hand to her," said Hotovely's advisor Ezra Gabai.  

"She prefers to avoid it, but I've seen her on many occasions shaking an extended hand."

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