Question:

Hi,
Thank you for helping. I have a professor (non jewish) that I was speaking with on the last day of class. Other students had left the room as I was still talking to him. I was thanking him and making pleasant conversation, planning to leave as soon as would be socially proper. My question is that he asked me if he could give me a hug, and I am embarrassed to say that I said sure, he gave me a hug, and then I felt upset with myself for saying sure. I’m a baal teshuva for about 4 years, and I can be a bit hard on myself when my observance is sloppy out of ignorance of the right thing to do. My questions are: 1. Did I do the wrong thing because my about 1 second calculation was that I shouldn’t embarrass him? (For the record I absolutely would have preferred not to hug him). And 2. If I indeed unfortunately sinned by hugging him, what is the proper teshuva? I expressed remorse and asked G-d to forgive me, but I still feel disappointed about the fact that I did not do something different…3. Is it ok to lie flat out in a situation like that- can I say that I may have a cold or something just to get out of it?
Thanks again,

Answer:

My apologies that it took some time to get back to you.

Since you did have the choice of saying no, what was done was incorrect. The fact that he would have been embarrassed, is not a problem, you wouldn’t have done anything wrong by not consenting to do something that is wrong. As a side point, in a situation that you are not being asked, and you can’t get out of it, (i.e. when relatives want to hug you when they see you at a family simcha), if you don’t participate, (i.e hug him back) it is a lot better. I know women that when they are in a situation that they suspect that this might happen they make sure to be holding something in front of them, so that it would be awkward for someone to try and hug them like that.

Regarding doing teshuva, since you regret what was done, and you expressed remorse to G-d about it, what you should still do take clear steps to make sure something like this does not repeat itself. I would suggest you read the book “Nine to Five” (R’ Neiman) that talks about the topic of separation between men and women in the workplace etc.

If it would have been possible to say something that isn’t a flat out lie, but would have been misinterpreted by him, like saying that you aren’t up to it, (which is very true) and he would think you meant to say that you are not feeling well, that would be best. However if you can’t think of something like that, of if that wouldn’t work, it would have been permitted to lie flat out in order to prevent this sin.

Sources:

Sanhedrin 72, Y:D, Rema Y:C 157-1, Igros Moshe Y:D 1-74.

Tags: immodesty teshu

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