Monday, May 9, 2011


One of the (countless) concepts I love about Judaism is the Torah's approach towards relationships. I think that if BOTH spouses 100% fully follow the Torah's advice (obviously, that includes Torah Sheh B'al Peh and Chazal's adivce) towards relationships & marriage, then they're bound to have a happy marriage.

I remember when I was first doing teshuva and learning about shomer negia, abstinence before marriage, hilchot nidda, the chuppah, and the obligations of a husband and wife, I was shocked. I was at awe at how beautiful and true everything really is. How much logical and emotional sense it all made.

Some time shortly before seminary, I remember learning about the concept of tzniut between a husband and wife. I didn't understand why they can't touch in public. C'mon, they were shomer negia for so long, and now they're MARRIED! Give them a break.
I didn't understand. I didn't want to listen.
Same thing happened at seminary. I saw how physically distant the religious married couples were, and I just couldn't sympathize. I always pictured a husband and wife to be showingly affectionate; not through major PDA form, but you holding hands or stuff like that.

Not too long ago, I was discussing with a friend how certain hashkafic concepts that I "rejected" during seminary, I now totally agree with. Why? Because I've experienced situations that led me to realize how truth about what my teachers and Rabbanim were preaching.

I finally noticed the emet and importance of tzniut and lack of public physical contact between a husband and wife.

I saw somebody I know who recently got married. She was always a very quiet, sweet girl. Very modest with her actions and mannerisms. She was with her husband, and they kept touching. Holding hands, hugging, etc.
I felt myself cringe. Not out of disgust or jealously. Rather, this cringe was out of discomfort. It was at that moment that I realized how important it is to conceal physical touch in public places.
1) Touch is special. It's intimate. It's reserved for the husband and wife. Alone. When one has something precious, (s)he doesn't show it off to the whole world. Rather, (s)he keeps it in a safe or private, unknown area.
2) It can easily make other people feel uncomfortable. Nobody, especially shomer-negia singles, want to see that. The only people who might appreciate the couple's lovie dovie antics are their parents and old people.
3) Sometimes it seems as if the couple is insecure in their own relationship, and therefore, feels the "need" to prove their affections to themselves by flaunting to everyone around them. I have a friend who recently got divorced. A lot of our friends were shocked because, apparently, she and her husband always posted pictures of themselves - touching, looking happy, smiling, going ice-skating, etc.
Their facebook statuses were often "I love my wife!" or "thank you so much to the best husband in the world for driving me to work today!"
6 months later...divorced.
Initially, I was also surprised and of course, upset, about the news. However, after one intently focuses on the details, it isn't so surprising that such a public relationship failed.

Just to clarify: I don't think that means couples should be cold or robotic. I just think the public affection should be kept to a minimum.

Just some food for thought.


  1. I have a whole group of 'friends' on facebook who've gotten married within the year and seem to party with their husbands nonstop. We get bombarded with pictures of them at restaurants and vacationing in Florida, and with the frequency of the pictures of them embracing/holding each other, it really makes me wonder how the heck they're keeping to taharas hamishpacha. These are girls who were raised in frum families and attended the same mainstream schools as I did. I try to be dan l'kaf zechus but it really irks me.

  2. People take pictures and release them slowly, over time. I suggest, in general, you worry more about yourself.

  3. Corti - it definitely is an issue. Privacy and tzniut is definitely a lot more jeopardized in this generation.

    Alar - it's a bit naive and even irresponsible for a person to ignore the environment he's in in and only worry about himself. We need to learn from others' mistakes and try to change ourselves for the better.
    (And hopefully by changing ourselves, others will learn from our actions and change themselves.)

  4. When couples touch each other in public, the people who see them get unhelpful thoughts, whether the couple is married or not.

  5. I totally agree. I'm very much against overt PDFs, for the very reasons you mention. I say overt, because little things like a quick holding hands under the table at a meal can be discreet yet nice. But you are absolutely correct about the Facebook pictures, statuses and hugging etc in public. Great post - you are wise beyond your years (and single experience) and more married people would do well to read this and take its lessons to heart.

  6. Mr. Cohen - yup.

    Shades - Thank you :)
    I agree about the discreet things. As with every situation in life, there's a time and place for everything. People need to evuluate their surroundings and the reactions of those around them.

  7. I live in a neighborhood where there are older couples - by older, I mean 50+. It is nice to see, on a Shabbos afternoon, these couples walk about hand in hand.

    Somehow in the young it is annoying - but when they are older and have been together for a long time, public hand holding should be okay.

  8. Good point, Princess Lea.

    Seeing older people holding hands certainly isn't evocative of the newly married "OMG I can't keep my hands off of you" sentiment that is often expressed, both verbally and not, by younger married folk. To me, it shows years of committment, true lasting love, and a real demonstration of the sentiment that "I've only got eyes (or hands I guess) for you."

  9. Such a good post, as usual!

    I agree with your point 3 - sometimes those who are showing off on the outside are really hurting inside, this is just their way of trying to show to the world that everything is okay, when really it's far from okay.

    Something special is kept hidden from the eye and not put on a public display - that is a big part of the mitzvah of tznius. You can also read a post about that here.

  10. Sefardigal,

    I couldn't agree with you more.

    It really bothers me when someone broadcasts an album of private pictures to 500 "friends." Even people who aren't friends may have access to those pictures... from past experiences, I have been disturbed me to a great degree. Not to mention, convinced for the umpteenth time that I do not want facebook.

    In any case, everything you mentioned really is so true...especially about something being hidden if it is special.

  11. What does PDA stand for?

  12. Princess Lea - true, it definitely is less discomforting (in my opinion, it's even comforting) to see elderly people holding hands. A close friend of mine has grandparents who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. I remember watching them once and seeing that the husband still carries his wife's purse, while linking arms together.

    Shades - very well stated! I think that, for whatever reason, the touch between an older couple doesn't have that "passion" look to it (on the surface, anyway), and therefore, is out of pure and genuine love. Love that grew from all of the adversity, pain, happiness, tears, children, and grandchildren. Love that has little or no infatuation involved.

    Then again, an elderly couple can also be "newlyweds" -- my friend's great aunt (if I recall correctly, she's 81) recently got married.

    Tikva - indeed...facebook is a disturbing island. I don't even want to begin my facebook rant. I recently gave a whole eloquent speech (on a date, HA) about facebook. I think the guy thought I should run for president. Either that or: "man, she has severe issues."

    Anonymous - PDA = Public Displays (of) Affection

  13. I noticed that you made no distinction between excessive PDA and very limited PDA. It sounds like you're swearing it all off. I haven't really formulated an opinion on what I think about it, but it struck me as interesting that you think it's inappropriate to take a picture of your husband that has any sort of physical contact. I don't think these pictures should be posted online but to take them? I have to think about that more.

  14. %Shocked% - that's a good point. I didn't really differentiate in the post. The truth is, it's difficult to draw the line because just because certain things don't bother ME, that doesn't mean that:
    a) they're appropiate actions
    b) they don't bother others

    So, if you're asking for my personal opinion about the general matter, I'd say in most cases, PDA isn't appropiate. Even if it's subtle. Are there exceptions? Yes.

  15. I agree. I've always felt that onlysimchas and facebook bring so much ein hara. To quote Rabbi Weider "ztnius is keeping private what is meant to be private". And that includes a plethora of things.