Extending greetings to a woman

 

May one extend greetings to a woman, such as saying Shalom, good morning, good evening, or how are you?[1]

One may not ask a woman at all as to her wellbeing.[2] This applies even if one does so indirectly, through a messenger. It is forbidden to send greetings even through the woman’s husband. [This applies even to a woman who one does not know.[3] The above only applies towards phrases which contain affection and love, however to say good morning and the like is permitted.[4] Furthermore, some Poskim[5] suggest that perhaps the entire prohibition is only against using the term Shalom while other terms are permitted to be used. The general ruling is that all greetings which contain absolutely no touch of affection at all and are a merely said as a common norm of society [i.e. Derech Eretz] are not considered under the prohibition against greeting a woman.[6] Practically today, even to say the word Shalom without adding the word “Shalom Alecha”, is permitted, and so is the custom of the world.[7] [One may certainly say Hello, or good morning or good evening or how are you.] Nonetheless, [if one is able to avoid doing so without risking offending the woman[8]] it is a holy act to be stringent not to recite even other greetings, such as good morning and the like.[9]

Asking other people as to the wellbeing of a woman: It is permitted to ask a husband as to the wellbeing of his wife.[10] Furthermore, some Poskim[11] rule it is permitted to ask any man as to the wellbeing of a woman. Other Poskim[12] however rule it is forbidden to ask other men as to the wellbeing of a woman, and doing so is only permitted to the husband of the woman. 

 

 

Summary:

It is permitted to greet a woman with the phrase of good morning, Hello, or Shalom, when doing so out of Derech Eretz, and so is the custom. Nonetheless, those that are stringent against using the above terms are performing a holy act [so long as this will not leave the woman offended], and so is the custom of many G-d fearing Jews.

Q&A

May one ask of a women’s wellbeing through the telephone?[13]

This follows the same ruling as one who tells a woman Shalom directly.

May one ask of the wellbeing of a female relative?[14]

Yes.[15]

May one ask of the wellbeing of a female child?[16]

The prohibition of saying Shalom does not apply to children that are below the age of Issur Yichud.

May a woman extend greetings and ask of the wellbeing of a man?[17]

This follows the same ruling as having a man tell Shalom to a woman.

May one wish a woman Mazal Tov by a Simcha?[18]

Yes.[19]

May one bless a woman?[20]

Yes.

If a woman asks as to one’s well-being may one reply?[21]

Yes.

May one ask a woman as to the wellbeing of her husband?[22]

Yes.



[1] Michaber E.H. 21/6; Shmuel Keddushin 70b

[2] The reason: As this can lead to them being acquainted with each other which can lead towards an affectionate relationship. [Rashi ibid; Chelkas Mechokek 21/7; Aruch Hashulchan 21/8] Alternatively, the reason is because the voice of a woman is considered an Erva. [Kiddushin 70, brought in Ezer Mikodesh 21/6 and Aruch Hashulchan 21/8

[3] Betzeil Hachochmah 5/49

[4] Aruch Hashulchan 21/8; Ezer Mekodesh 21/6 that in the Talmud they were only particular against using the term Shalom; Betzeil Hachochmah 5/48-12

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that ideally all phrases are included within this prohibition, although the custom is to be lenient even regarding Shalom, as the Rama allows doing so Lesheim Shamayim. [Maharam Shick E.H. 53]

[5] Ezer Mekodesh 21/6 based on Rama 385/1 regarding an Avel that today we are lenient regarding Sheilas Shalom to an Avel as it’s not similar to the Sheilas Shalom of previous times; Betzeil Hachochmah 5/49

[6] Aruch Hashulchan 21/8 in name of Ritva ibid; Pnei Yehoshua on Kiddushin ibid; Maharam Shick E.H. 53 that the world is accustomed like Shmuel [ruled in Rama 21/5]  that whatever one does Lesheim Shamayim is permitted; Taharas Yisrael 21/6-16; Minchas Yitzchak 8/126

[7] Minchas Yitzchak 8/126; Betzeil Hachochmah 5/48-12; see Maharam Shick E.H. 53 that is Mailameid Zechus on all forms of greetings of formality.

[8] See Betzeil Hachochmah ibid

[9] Maharam Shick E.H. 53; Betzeil Hachochmah ibid; Minchas Yitzchak ibid

[10] Michaber ibid; Baba Metzia 87a

[11] Bach 21; Shaiy Lemorah

[12] Beis Shmuel 21/13; Chelkas Mechokeik 21/7

[13] Betzeil Hachochmah 5/49

[14] Aruch Hashulchan 21/8

[15] The reason: As all greetings which contain absolutely no touch of affection in the person at all and are a merely said as a common gesture of society are not considered under the prohibition against saying a greeting towards her. [ibid]

[16] Ezer Mikodesh 21/6

[17] Betzeil Hachochmah 5/49

[18] Ezer Mikodesh 21/6

[19] The reason: This is not considered like asking of her wellbeing but simply a blessing for her. [ibid]

[20] Ezer Mikodesh 21/6

[21] Betzeil Hachochmah 5/48-11

[22] Aruch Hashulchan 21/8 in name of Maharsham Baba Metzia 87

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