Kissing a child, relative, or friend in a Shul

Kissing in a Shul:[1]

One is not to kiss his small children in Shul.[2] [This implies that it is however permitted to kiss older children, and other people, in Shul.[3] However, some Poskim[4] rule that in truth this applies to children of any age, and not specifically small children. Furthermore, it applies to any person, even non-relatives, as one is to avoid kissing any person in a Shul, being it is a place of love and worship of G-d. It is however permitted to kiss a person who one is obligated to respect and honor, such as to kiss the hand of a Rav, Torah scholar, one’s father, and the like.[5] Likewise, one may kiss another as a sign of admiration or gratitude for something he said or did, and so was done by our Sages.[6] Practically, it is customary amongst many Chassidim to give a “Chassidic kiss” upon greeting a fellow Chassid or friend, as a welcoming expression of Ahavas Yisrael. This seemingly relies on the implication above that the prohibition only applies towards one’s small children.]  

 

Summary:

It is forbidden to kiss one’s small children in Shul. It is debated amongst Poskim if this prohibition applies also to kissing older children, relatives and friends. It is however permitted according to all to kiss a person who one is obligated to respect and honor, such as to kiss the hand of a Rav, Torah scholar, one’s father, and the like, or to give a kiss to another as a sign of admiration or gratitude. Practically, it is customary amongst many Chassidim to give a “Chassidic kiss” upon greeting a fellow Chassid or friend in Shul.

 

Q&A

May one kiss a child who got hurt in order to calm him down?[7]
Yes.

May a woman kiss her children in the Ezras Nashim?[8]
No. A mother is to avoid kissing her children in the Ezras Nashim, just as is the law regarding men. The same would apply to kissing any other person in the Ezras Nashim, according to those Poskim who extend the prohibition to all people, as explained above.

 

May one kiss the hand of a person who received an Aliya?
Some Poskim[9] rule one is not to kiss the hand of one who got an Aliya. Other Poskim[10] however rule it is permitted to do so, out of respect of the Torah.

May one kiss his son in Shul after his Aliyah for his Bar Mitzvah?[11]
No.

May one kiss a person in Shul outside of the times of Davening?
No. The prohibition applies anytime in a Shul, being that a Shul is designated for the worship and love of G-d.[12] However, some[13] suggest that perhaps the prohibition only applies during times of Davening.

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[1] Admur 98/1; Rama 98/1; Binyamin Zev 163 in name of Aguda; Sefer Chassidim 255; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 98/7; Pamei Yaakov 68 p. 83-87

[2] The reason: In order so one sets in his heart that there is no love like the love of Hashem. [Admur ibid; Rama ibid; Binyamin Zev ibid]

[3] Admur and Rama ibid write small children, and so writes Binyamin Zev ibid. This implies that it only applies to small children and not anyone else, as if it does apply to all people, then why write a misleading wording when you can simply write the Halacha in all its parameters; However, Sefer Chassdim ibid simply writes not to kiss children. So rules Shemesh Umagen 39 [Rav Mashash] that it only applies to small children.

The reason: As by small children there is a natural love expressed towards them, and on this it states that one must leave the love of his wife and children aside when coming before G-d in prayer, and that since a Shul is the place where we express and work on our natural love for G-d it is not befitting to show natural love to others in such a place. However, the kiss given to other people, is simply done cordially out of respect, or honor, and is actually an act of Ahavas Yisrael, which does not contain that same natural love as does kissing a child. [See Shemesh Umagen ibid]

The reason: Seemingly, the reason

[4] Ben Ish Chaiy Vayikra 11 “One may not kiss the hands of his relatives”; Orach Mishpat 22 of Rav Kook; Piskeiy Teshuvos 98/7

[5] Ben Ish Chaiy ibid regarding kissing the hand of a Rav, Talmid Chacham, and father; Yechaveh Daas 4/12

The reason: As we see that Moshe kissed Ahron when he met him on the mountain of Har Sinai. This seemingly shows that it is permitted to kiss someone in Shul

[6] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid that we find in Chazal that a Sage would at times kiss a student or colleague as a sign of gratitude or admiration, after hearing a Torah novelty from that person. See Nedarim 9a; Avos Derebbe Nasan 6; Kallah 1/21; Midrash Koheles 5/17

[7] Piskeiy Teshuvos 98 footnote 69

[8] Piskeiy Teshuvos 98 footnote 72; See Pamei Yaakov ibid that majority of Poskim rule that the Ezras Nashim contains holiness, and hence is subject to the above prohibition.

Regarding the Kedusha of an Ezras Nashim: See Peri Megadim 151 A”A 1; Rosh Yosef Megila 28a which rules it has holiness; See also Ashel Avraham Butchach 151; Shoel Umeishiv 2/22; Beis Yitzchak 2 Kuntrus Achron 1/4; Beis Shlomo 1/28; Avnei Nezer 33; Aruch Hashulchan 154/7; Maharash Engel 3/88; Mahrsham 1/10; Teshuras Shay 545; Arugas Bosem 27; Imrei Yosher 2/12; Beis Yisrael 24; Tzur Yaakov 152; Minchas Yitzchak 7/8; Sheivet Halevy 5/21; Tzitz Eliezer ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 151/1. Some of these Poskim rule that the Ezras Nashim has the holiness of a Shul. Others rule it contains holiness, but to a lesser degree than the men’s section.

Other Opinions: The Chochmas Adam 86/15 rules the Ezras Nashim does not have Kedusha. So also leans to rule Yad Halevy 2/3. Many of the above Poskim negate his opinion. See Tzitz Eliezer ibid.

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch: See Admur 619/18 which mentions the Ezras Nashim as “Beis Hakeneses Shel Nashim”. Furthermore, from that Halacha it is proven that it has at least a lower level of holiness than the men’s section. Nevertheless, one cannot prove from there that it has no holiness at all.

[9] Ben Ish Chaiy ibid; Yechaveh Daas ibid

[10] Shemesh Umagen ibid that so is the custom of Moroccan Jewry

[11] Piskeiy Teshuvos 98 footnote 72

[12] So is implied from the wording of all Poskim ibid; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 98/7 footnote 73

[13] Birchas Chanoch 3 in name of Rav Moshe Feinstein; Beis Yisrael 1/9; See Biur Hagr”a ibid in name of Zohar; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

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