Saturday, January 1, 2011

Shomer Negiah

Last year on Pesach, I was sitting at a meal across from two ladies. One was frum, and she was explaining to her neighbor how her extended family met her with antagonism and disapproval about how she wouldn't touch men.
The lady told her neighbor about how she tried to explain why she would not shake a man's hand, and yet her family still derided her habits. She tried offering explanations about modesty, and other reasons that I do not recall, but nothing helped. Her family is still at odds with her and her religious lifestyle.
I leaned forward, and eased myself into their conversation, "You know, there was a lady who received a dollar from the Rebbe, and put out her hand, expecting the Rebbe to shake it. The Rebbe smiled, and said, 'My mother always taught me not to touch what isn't mine!'"
The lady across from me slouched back in her chair, staring at me, mouth agape. After a few moments, she sat up straight again, and told me, beaming, "Well that's just incredible! What an amazing answer to give someone. That is so simple, but includes so much meaning behind it! Thank you very very much!!" She was really overcome with wonder, and those of us sitting around couldn't help but smile, watching her exhilarated satisfaction.