Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Handshake Hullabaloo - Follow Up

Follow-up of this post.

Last Friday, I joined the YU Israel Kollel on a terrific tour of Nachlaot with Rav Benji Levine, the grandson of Rav Aryeh Levine. As we toured, he described some of the characters that he knew as he lived with his grandfather in that single-room apartment in Nachlaot. One was Rav Unterman, the second Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, about whom he told the following story.
One day, Rav Unterman was standing outside Heichal Shlomo in the center of Jerusalem, where much of the rabbinic business of the Religious Zionist movement took place, when a secular female tourist was walking by. Somehow, she learned that the Chief Rabbi was standing near her. She walked up to the Chief Rabbi, who was surrounded by a group of rabbis, extended her hand, and introduced herself. Rav Unterman shook her hand, exchanged pleasantries with her, and she continued on her way. After she had left, he said to the somewhat surprised crowd:
לא שאני מקיל בהלכות נגיעה. אלא אני מחמיר בהלכות כבוד הבריות.
It's not that I'm lenient with regard to the laws of touching [a member of the opposite sex]. Rather, I'm stringing regarding the laws of [maintaining] the respect of other human beings.
True story.