Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Shomer" Negiah

What constitutes being "shomer negiah?"

There are many non-married couples, who, despite not holding hands, giving hugs, etc. have no problem passing each other things and accidentally touching or "accidentally" bumping into one another when going through a doorway. According to most (not the least being the people themselves), they are "shomer negiah."

But is that true? Isn't it really a gradation, pragmatically drawing a line? Shomer, guarding, would appear to be especially important on the little things, those which are close to the line, which may or may not be problematic and which occur frequently. So yes, you won't do the "major things" but the "small" ones, which aren't "so bad" are ok.

That isn't to say that anyone who isn't careful about passing through doorways should suddenly throw it all out the window. That rationalizing certain things as being "ok" is always wrong. We all make pragmatic decisions, we all draw lines in the sand. We create defenses for those lines, calling it "shomer negiah" when it may not truly be so. Those defenses and decisions are important. So is honesty.