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Negiah (Hebrew: נגיעה ‎ ),[1] literally "touch," is the concept in Halakha that forbids or restricts physical contact with a member of the opposite sex (except for one's spouse, children, siblings, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents).[2][3][4] A person who abides by this Halakha is colloquially described as a Shomer Negiah (one who is "observant of Negiah").[5]

The laws of Negiah are typically followed by Orthodox Jews, with varying levels of observance. Some Orthodox Jews follow the laws with strict modesty and take measures to avoid accidental contact, such as avoiding sitting next to a member of the opposite sex on a bus, airplane, or other similar seating situation. Others are more lenient, only avoiding purposeful contact. Adherents of Conservative and Reform Judaism do not usually follow these laws.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Earlier sources do not use the word "Negiah," but use the word "K'reiva" (coming near) or one of its grammatical variations. See, e.g. Sefer Mitzvos Gadol 126; Rambam Issurei Biah 21:1.
  2. Even HaEzer 21:7 and Beis Shmuel 14; Halichos Bas Yisrael by Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Fuchs, vol. 1 p. 108-109 (English edition, Targum Press 1985). With regard to grandchildren, the term used by the Poskim (Halakhic authorities) is "Bas Bito" - literally "his daughter's daughter." However, this is assumed by most authorities to include all grandchildren. See Halichos Bas Yisrael, cited above; see also Otzar HaPoskim Even HaEzer 21:52, paragraph #2. [The Poskim do not appear to explicitly discuss great-grandparents and great-grandchildren. However, the Hebrew term for grandchildren (B'nei Banim) can also be more broadly interpreted to mean direct descendants, no matter how many generations apart].
  3. Siblings should avoid forbidden physical contact (defined below) where both have reached puberty. Halichos Bas Yisrael vol. 1, 7:20 (p. 110 note 31); see Tractate Sabbath 13a; Rambam Hilchos Issurei Biah 21:6 and Magid Mishna; Even HaEzer 21:7 and Chelkas M'Chokek 8. According to Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, this is, at most, a Rabbinic prohibition. See Otzar HaPoskim Even HaEzer 21:51.
  4. All physical contact between spouses, even when not done in a "Derech Chiba v'Taavah" (defined below), is prohibited when the wife is in the status of Niddah. See Yoreh Deah 195:2 and Badei HaShulchan at 14. For a perspective on the benefits of such monthly separation, see Marital Intimacy by Rabbi Avraham Peretz Friedman, p.p. 27-42 (Compass Books 2005).
  5. The term is somewhat controversial; see, e.g
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