How do you address people of the opposite sex?
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- This topic has 114 replies, 36 voices, and was last updated 7 years, 1 month ago by WolfishMusings.
February 14, 2016 8:50 pm at 8:50 pm #617234
I am not sure if it is a halacha, but I know I am not alone in not using first names of acquaintance of the opposite sex. What about you?February 14, 2016 9:02 pm at 9:02 pm #1138063☕️coffee addictParticipant
You’re not aloneFebruary 14, 2016 9:13 pm at 9:13 pm #1138064
Mrs. Goldsmith (if male addressing her) or Mr. Jacobowitz (if female addressing him.)
That being said, people should not being addressing members of the opposite gender altogether unless absolutely essential.February 14, 2016 9:18 pm at 9:18 pm #1138065
It is forbidden to make small talk about matters unrelated to business. Men and women working together should not discuss politics, current events, recent tragedies or gossip, even if they do not do so regularly. Discussing these matters on a daily basis, is a violation of halachos that border on giluy arayos, which requires one to sacrifice his life rather than transgress. (p. 9)
When conversing with female employees or co-workers, one must be careful not to us the word “we,” so that the man and woman are not referred to as one unit. For example, one should not say, “We must talk with the editor,” or “We must purchase that software program.” Rather, he should say, “The editor must be consulted,” or “Please purchase that program.” (pp. 10-11)
It is a custom amongst yirei shomayim not to call a woman other than one’s wife or immediate family member by her first name, thus keeping a respectful distance between the two parties. Referring to a woman by her first name brings inappropriate familiarity into the relationship. Similarly, a woman should refrain from addressing a man other than her husband or immediate family member by his first name. (p. 20)
A Helpful Suggestion:
It is appropriate for male and female employees [to] refrain from all conversation when they meet anywhere outside of the office. This includes not discussing even job-related matters when meeting in the hallway or elevator at work.
“It cannot be stressed enough that the term prutzim also refers to people who are otherwise shomrei Torah u’mitzvos, but are not careful in matters relating to kraivah l’arayos. They may be regularly exposed to immodesty through the media, or may often be in the presence of immoral individuals through their everyday social interactions….(p.39) meaning that they are exposed to immodesty through television, movies, in publications and the like. An individual involved in such activities is labeled a parutz. This is not limited to visual images; someone who is exposed to any form of indecent activity, such as chat rooms on the Internet, is considered a parutz. Such forms of recreation are a breach of morality.” (p. 34)February 14, 2016 9:56 pm at 9:56 pm #1138066WolfishMusingsParticipant
That being said, people should not being addressing members of the opposite gender altogether unless absolutely essential.
I’ll remember that the next time I need Eees for something that is not absolutely essential.
The WolfFebruary 14, 2016 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm #1138067
Oh, for heaven’s sake.
You are fully aware that neither the OP nor subsequent posters were talking about a spouse (or certain other relatives).February 14, 2016 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm #1138068
Joseph- just wondering, how do you respond when a female co-worker starts making small talk with you?February 14, 2016 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm #1138069
I follow Rav Neiman’s advice, that I reprinted above.February 14, 2016 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm #1138070
Whats the difference between this and a chat room?February 14, 2016 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm #1138071
Option of exchanging private contact information, meet and know the others gender?February 15, 2016 12:13 am at 12:13 am #1138072
Joseph- Rav Neiman does not answer my question. That’s why I asked it to you.February 15, 2016 12:16 am at 12:16 am #1138073WolfishMusingsParticipant
You are fully aware that neither the OP nor subsequent posters were talking about a spouse (or certain other relatives).
Fair enough… but I’m curious why you chose to quote my “For heaven’s sake” from the other thread. I didn’t say it here.
The WolfFebruary 15, 2016 12:36 am at 12:36 am #1138074
That was my way of expressing exasperation, the same way you did over there. I just though the cross reference was cute.February 15, 2016 2:25 am at 2:25 am #1138075oomisParticipant
There was a time when no one even had a last name. In my humble opinion, you should address a person the way in which THEY ask you to address them. Anything else is not respectful, though I am sure that might actually sound counterintuitive to some people. If a person I know continued to refer to me by my family name, when I specifically asked the person to please call me by my given name, I would be perturbed. I would be likewise put off if they called me by my first name WITHOUT my consent (as telemarketers often do).February 15, 2016 2:37 am at 2:37 am #1138076
Oomis: I don’t believe the issue is your preference; it’s the idea of not getting to familiar, and by addressing someone formally by Mr or Mrs, depending on the opposite sex, is a way of keeping distance. Now, if you prefer to be called by your first name, even by a member of the opposite sex, maybe you at least subconsciously are seeking a closeness with that person.February 15, 2016 3:42 am at 3:42 am #1138077
I wonder if HaRav Neiman had the personal experience of working in a mixed gender environment, especially with goyim.
Not making minimal small talk is almost impossible and would at the very least be viewed as anti social if not downright rude and antagonistic.
Minimal small talk is social normalicy.February 15, 2016 3:46 am at 3:46 am #1138078
Do you wonder if HaRav Elyashiv had personal experience in gittin or geneiva and you pasul him otherwise from paskening anything he hasn’t personal experience?February 15, 2016 4:37 am at 4:37 am #1138079
There is no Makor in Shas and Poskim against calling someone of the opposite gender by their first name. I don’t know who this R’ Neiman is (Joseph and the Frumteens moderator have quoted him before, though), but he has no Makor for these things he is saying.February 15, 2016 4:47 am at 4:47 am #1138080
The things he attributes to being kraivah l’arayos are per Shulchan Aruch. Avoiding the familiarity of calling someone by their first name he says is a custom amongst yirei shomayim; he did not say someone who called someone by their first name is a rasha.
I believe he was a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim (Queens) and was niftar just a few days ago.February 15, 2016 4:58 am at 4:58 am #1138081
Joseph: Find me where in Shulchan Aruch it says that making small talk is Kreivah L’arayos. Find me where there is a Chiluk between a daily basis or just once in a while. Find me where talking about job-related matters in the hallway is Assur but in the office is Muttar. Find me where in Shulchan Aruch it says not to refer to oneself together with a woman as “we”. Let me help. You won’t.February 15, 2016 5:06 am at 5:06 am #1138082yehudayonaParticipant
I use “Hey you!”February 15, 2016 5:20 am at 5:20 am #1138083charliehallParticipant
“The things he attributes to being kraivah l’arayos are per Shulchan Aruch. “
“Not making minimal small talk is almost impossible and would at the very least be viewed as anti social if not downright rude and antagonistic.
Minimal small talk is social normalicy.”
It is perfectly possible if you never want to have a real job.February 15, 2016 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm #1138084
I think this really becomes a bigger issue in social settings. In a business, from my own experience, is that people tend to remain professional. I’m not talking about “going out for drinks” after work, just normal work-related relationships.February 15, 2016 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm #1138085kapustaParticipant
I’m wondering if it’s correct to be quoting a small portion of a Sefer which some people seem to be unfamiliar with in a public forum during the week of Shiva. And personal shailos are always best asked directly to a rav.February 15, 2016 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm #1138086
Sam: He writes that making small talk “on a daily basis” borders on giluy arayos which, as you know, is yehareg ve’al ya’avor. There are plenty of admonishments throughout Chazal (al tarbeh sichah im haishah, etc.) and the poskim regarding the severity of talking to women. Are you really unfamiliar with them?
The point about avoiding conversations in the hallway or elevator he clearly listed as a “helpful suggestion”. The Shulchan Aruch says to “stay far far away from women”. As you know this is an area that one must take great precautions with.
What do you think the Mechaber meant when he paskened to stay far far away from women? In the Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah number 188, it states there that it is assur for men and women to talk to each other. Libo Gas Bo also applies to a man and a woman who are very friendly with each other, such as those who work together in an office. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (cited in Nishmas Avraham 3:94-95) and Dvar Halacha (7:17), state that Libo Gas Bo applies even if the man and woman have only had minimal interaction such as a woman who has visited a doctor a number of times or a man and woman who had some business dealings together. It is an issur d’oraysah. Rav Moshe, in the Igros Moshe, states that Lo Sikrevu means you can’t talk to women. Rav Moshe is quoting a statment of Chazal in Avos D’Reb Nosson and rulings of the Ran and others. Avos: “Al tarbeh sichah im haishah” – Do not talk more than necessary with women. The Mishnah continues: “Whoever does talk more than necessary with women causes bad for himself . . . and in the end will end up in Gehinnom!”February 15, 2016 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm #1138087aquestioningjewParticipant
Sam2 – whilst loath to defend Joseph, surely you appreciate that various different people have different approaches. One of these differences is whether a person looks to try and keep Shulchan Oruch purely based on “Vos shteit” or alternatively they want to go beyond the letter of the law. I must stress that I actually find both options to be valid and to have extremely logical reasons for them.
My personal preference is to work with what I have. When I work in Goyish palces, I use first names. Yiddishe places, Mrs etc. Of course its all fake because we’re creating false fences but we value that. Of coruse, that’s my personal preference.February 15, 2016 1:54 pm at 1:54 pm #1138088yehudayonaParticipant
I’m wondering how a male physician (for example) can “stay far far away from women.”February 15, 2016 2:30 pm at 2:30 pm #1138089
Tarud b’umnasoFebruary 15, 2016 3:35 pm at 3:35 pm #1138090aquestioningjewParticipant
Yehudayona – As I understand it, everything is about what one can do. If one is a doctor, one cant really can one? If one is in learning, one doesn’t need to talk to women…
Just to start a fight…. This shows why people in Kollel are reasonable (not saying I agree, just saying I hear the sevoroh) in not wanting their children in class with people that work. The father will L’maaseh, have different sensitivies to inyonei kedusha. (No, before some joker points it out, I’m not saying all working people are doctors, work out the Tzu shtell yourselves).February 15, 2016 4:20 pm at 4:20 pm #1138091
Joseph: So you said everything he said is based off Shulchan Aruch. Then I called it into question. Then you answered with some Vortlech, but no citations from Shulchan Aruch.
Long story short: You can’t use “Me’od Me’od” to make up whatever you want and call it Yeihareg V’al Ya’avor. The Shulchan Aruch gives a long list of things you can’t do after “Me’od Me’od”. That list is what he is referring to when he says “Me’od Me’od”. He wants nothing flirtatious or overly familiar. “Small talk” in an office setting is not that.
There is no Issur of Libo Gas Bo. Libo Gas Bo is a concept in Hilchos Yichud that makes us remove Heterim that we otherwise use.
According to you, why is it Muttar to date? Because if consistent small talk is Kreivah L’arayos, then someone should be obligated to shoot themselves before going on a fourth (maybe even third) date.
I will B”N look up the Sefer HaChinuch when I get a chance.February 15, 2016 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm #1138092apushatayidParticipant
When I was in elementary school we all used to call the secretary by her name, Chani. After she got married our Rebbe heard us calling her Chani and he told us that now that she is married we should call her Mrs. Schwartz (Chani and Mrs. Schwartz are made up names to protect the innocent, the story is not).February 15, 2016 4:49 pm at 4:49 pm #1138093
If small talk isn’t overly familiar, I don’t know what is. And if small talk doesn’t fall under al tarbeh sicha im haishah, then you must think that nothing does.February 15, 2016 6:36 pm at 6:36 pm #1138094chatzkalParticipantFebruary 15, 2016 7:04 pm at 7:04 pm #1138095
Sam2- The actual halacha for not talking to women is not a diyuk from “meod meod” as Joseph said, but rather explicitly from the SA itself (EH 21:6): ??? ?????? ????? ??? ???. The issue of she’eilas shalom is brought up in a number of gemaras; in eiruvin 53, Beruriah criticizes R’ Yosi for saying just a few words too much, on the basis of “al tarbeh sicha im ha’isha.”February 15, 2016 7:21 pm at 7:21 pm #1138096
Really, it is unwise to be rude and not respond to someone who is small-talking you. You can’t even begin to explain it to someone who is not Jewish or even just not Frum and expect them to have a positive view of frumkeit. But you yourself can control the small talk. However, having said that, office politics may make it a necessity. If your boss senses that you are stand-offish and won’t even engage in small talk, that can convey the impression that you are not a “team player.” right or wrong, it could have a negative impact.February 15, 2016 7:51 pm at 7:51 pm #1138097ubiquitinParticipant
“If small talk isn’t overly familiar, I don’t know what is”
I dont think you know what small talk is. Small talk is the exact opposite of “overly familiar” it is talk with complete strangers for example a person you sit next ot on a plane. About weather where your from etc…
Did you really not know this or is this part of your trolling?February 15, 2016 8:17 pm at 8:17 pm #1138098MDGParticipant
Bored_on_the_Job said, “I wonder if HaRav Neiman had the personal experience of working in a mixed gender environment, especially with goyim.”
Joseph replied, “Do you wonder if HaRav Elyashiv had personal experience in gittin or geneiva….”
I don’t see that as a good comparison. As an employee, you are expected to be a team player. You may easily risk your job by ignoring others. Did HaRav Elyashiv risk his position by following such “Halacha”? On the contrary, it helped him.
Similarly, I once received advice from a Rav who had no idea what a work day was like. He thought it was 9-5 and paid “the big bucks” as he called it. It was more like 9-7 and paid decently (like 60,000-65,000 – 15 years ago) but not “big bucks”.
While I agree that gedarim are needed, some of the ones mentioned are unrealisitc.February 15, 2016 8:21 pm at 8:21 pm #1138099dovrosenbaumParticipant
I’d say it’s respectful and tznius to address people as Mr/Mrs, Rabbi/Rebbetzin, Hakham/Rabbanit.February 15, 2016 9:25 pm at 9:25 pm #1138100👑RebYidd23Participant
I hate being called by my first or last name with or without a title.February 15, 2016 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm #1138101oomisParticipant
Flatbusher, there was no such thing as Mr. or Mrs. at one time, and people referred to each other by their names. Are you suggesting they were committing an immodest or disrespectful act?
Anyone who wants to be called Mr. Mrs. Dr. Professor, Rabbi,or whatever their title may be, should be. But some people really have no such desire, and THEIR wishes should be respected, as well. My Rebbetzin does not even want to be called Rebbetzin. She asked to be called by her first name, and if someone says Rebbetzin or even Mrs. ________,she gently says her first name to them.February 15, 2016 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm #1138102
Oomis: Do the men also call your “Rebbetzin” by her first name?February 15, 2016 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm #1138103
I assume that HaRav Neiman would say even necessary conversation soley pertaining to work related issues, with a woman is bdieved. However for parnassah its very often not possible to do the lchatchila, especially when it comes to dealing with women. Since R Neiman views it as a necessity to at least talk about work related issues, he is matir it.
I was merely suggesting/wondering that his heter should extend. I am saying that in order to keep a job in a standard office environment one must make small talk with women as well.February 15, 2016 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm #1138104
To Joseph – I assume that when R Elyashiv paskened on a sheila/case, he tried to the best of his ability to be aware of all relevant details in addition to his remarkable knowledge of torah and halachah. He would not foolishly pasken based on a wrong assumption of how things worked in the world, especially if it could be severly detrimental to ppl following his pasek.
To issue a psak on tznius that could cause ppl to lose their jobs seems pretty high stakes to me. I hope that such consequences were taken into consideration when the psak was issued.
If we asked r neiman straight up, if you had a choice, either engage in small talk with a women or lose your job. Would he say lose your job?
I think he might have just misjudged the dynamics of the workplaceFebruary 15, 2016 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm #1138105
Oomis, considering none of us was around then, we can only speculate,but I do recall reading that oldtime Chinese used to not directly address opposite sex but would refer to them as “wife of so and so” or so and so’s sister. Maybe that was the case with yidden as well.February 15, 2016 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm #1138106
Bored: For a yehareg ve’al ya’avor one must not only gives up their job but they must give up their life. We are discussing situations that borders on giluy arayos.February 16, 2016 12:49 am at 12:49 am #1138107
Joseph let me clarify – How is small talk yarog val yaavor?
I assume bec “lo sikrivu…” acc to the poiskim includes any conduct that is of the nature of behavior that leads towards an actual aveirah. That conduct itself is included in the lav and thus is part of gilu arayos and yarog val yaavor.
If someone, through making neccesary conversation with someone of the opposite gender, did so in the fashion and tone of someone who was trying to engage in more than just business, that too could be yarog val yavor.
Small talk done in a strictly professional manner i assume would not be yarog val yaaavor.
You can argue that it makes more sense to suggest that ppl refrain from small talk because it is more likely to lead to questionable behavior than business talk.
However both could be yarog val yaavor and both could not be.
Even business talk is a potential slippery slope, yet it is mutar for parnassah. It is leicah darchah acharinah.
So too small talk as well may be neccessary.February 16, 2016 2:07 am at 2:07 am #1138108random17MemberFebruary 16, 2016 2:37 am at 2:37 am #1138110YW Moderator-29 👨💻Moderator
Gavra, not sure what your first paragraph was supposed to mean, and I’m not okay with calling a Rav “Stam a guy”….February 16, 2016 3:18 am at 3:18 am #1138111YW Moderator-95Moderator
Joseph, you forgot to log back into the Joseph name when making your correction.February 16, 2016 3:23 am at 3:23 am #1138112
That correction wasn’t from me.
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