Friday, February 12, 2010

Rav Moshe Feinstein: Prohibition of social dating

Igros Moshe(E.H. 4:60): Concerning the issue of a young man who is not ready to get married and has no interest in getting married and he is interested in having social dates with young women who also are not ready to get married and have no interest in getting married. They say that since they are careful to avoid the prohibition of yichud (seclusion) there is no prohibition in dating. Even though they know that this is not nice but they say they are not interested in issues of piety and extra measures of modesty and they don’t want to listen to lectures of mussar and rebuke. However they say that they will stop if they hear from me that this is prohibited according to the halacha. Therefore I am forced to respond immediately because this applies to a current activity… There is also a severe prohibition from the Torah in close friendships between a young man and woman. That is even if they avoid hugging and kissing as well as touching and yichud. The problem is that he talks with her for extended times in expressing love and he gets pleasure from this and stares at her. Even according to the Ramban who disagrees with the Rambam and holds this is only a rabbinic prohibition nevertheless agrees that this is a severe prohibition since it has an asmachta from a verse and that it is punished with rabbinic flogging. It is clear that dating is done because of love of women and not because of ordinary friendship since he clearly prefers being with a woman then with male friends. Why is he interested in this woman when it doesn’t give him greater respect or a good name? It is obviously because of love of a woman because she is a woman. In addition even though she is unmarried, she is a nidah which is prohibited with the punishment of kares…


  1. Let's say the guy and girl have lots of friends from both genders. Let's say they attend co-ed high school. Is Rav Moshe saying that a guy and a girl who observe hichos yichud and are careful not to touch each other, not be friends? Would that case also be such that "It is obviously because of love of a woman because she is a woman"?

  2. You might say that he is not addressing the case of a guy talking with a girl and acting identically to when he is socializing with a guy.

    He notes the obvious that guys typically don't act the same way when they have dates with girls.

  3. Yes. Thats what he is saying. I dont think he would approve of coed classes. Welcome to reality

  4. Agree with observer.

    What Rav Moshe doesn't say, but is surely thinking, is that such relationships almost always lead to yichud, touching, etc. At best, it will lead to conversations about inappropriate topics.

    This reminds me of someone I was talking to a couple of years ago who discovered the difficult way that there's really no such thing as "harmless negiah."

  5. Dating, per se, is indeed a 'slippery slope' as R' Moshe correctly say.

    That said, the frum olam would benefit great greatly from some kind of approved socialization between boys and girls.

    Increased interest is both natural and necessary for the healthy development of families and individuals. There should be a way to express that.

    Unfortunately, too many people believe 'interest' means 'availability'- and that is simply not the case.

    Dating increases the chances for problem, but appropriate interactions and social interaction and socialization might go a long way in creating both better shiduchim and down the road, happier marriages.

  6. Observer,
    I'm sure he wouldn't approve of coed classes but this Psak Halacha is about "platonic" relationships. Its about teenagers or even those in their lower 20's who aren't interested in marriage yet just dating a girl having a BF GF relationship without the yichud and touching and He is saying it is still asur.

  7. Rav Moshe is not talking specifically about dates. His words are Kishrei Reius, friendship. That is more inclusive than you make it. In addition, your theory that Rav Moshe does not prohibit when the boy acts identically as he would with another boy is refuted by Rav Moshe's words: "Why is he interested in this woman when it doesn’t give him greater respect or a good name? It is obviously because of love of a woman because she is a woman."

  8. I think this very strict stance has a dangerous flipside: people rejecting potential marriage partners too quickly and applying quite superficial criteria when selecting them.

    It takes time to get to know a person and to decide whether he/she is a fit marriage partner or not.

    If "no social dating allowed" is always lurking in the background, this might destroy the marriage prospects of
    - persons who are not so attractive at first sight
    - persons who need time
    -persons who do not decide according to their first gut feeling
    -persons who feel pressured by the fact that dating "is only for serious business"

    Because it is a lot easier to find reasons to reject a person than to find a reason to accept.

  9. Growing: Rav Moshe specifically says that socializing between the sexes is strictly prohibited according to Jewish law.

  10. IN Avot D'Rabbi Nathan, we are told that Adam (or Eve) added the restriction of touching the Tree of daat/ forbidden fruit.
    Hence, the serpent pushed her on the tree, and said see, nothign happened if you touch it , so nothing will happen if you eat.

    Isn't this the risk of layer upon layer of restrictions. People will end up perverted like Tropper, or homosexual, like the Geula mikve and other cases too many to mention.

  11. We can't speak for Rav Moshe zt"l becuause he is no longer with us, but if someone explained to a gadol that co-ed schools exist, like it or not, and there are parents who send their kids there, and then asked if a student was in such a class all his life is he or she allowed to be friendly with someone from the opposite gender, and it is it an issur chamur, they might get an answer that is lenient.

  12. OR, rather, they will get an answer straight out of the Igros Moshe or any number of other posking that it is assur min HaTorah.


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