Question:

I’ve heard lately that shomer negiah is more of a geder, so as to not to lead to sex. I want to know if it’s really issur from the Torah or if possibly just a geder. I’m a religious girl with extremely strong boundaries so as of now Whenever a guy wants to even touch my hand I pull away but I’m actually extremely frustrated with these excessive Halachas over things that don’t even harm others, and I’m not interested in keeping anything extra than all the halachas I already am keeping. It’s also making it difficult for me to want to get married because I don’t feel ready to commit to one guy before I can have a little relationship with atleast 2 other guys first. Is there anyway that I would have a hetter in shomer negiah? I would not be corrupting any guys because these would be guys that have done every possible thing already and are already in experience with the situation and therefore have no extra feel for it. And as for myself, I’m very logical and I will only do exactly what is allowed. For example if only hand holding is allowed, I wouldn’t do more than that. If kissing is allowed, I wouldn’t go past that. So in the situation where it would be with guys that are doing everything worse anyways and I’m very logical and would never let it lead to anywhere it’s not supposed to, in my situation, is it possible that it’s allowed and can be seen as a geder, if I can 100% garantee it wouldn’t lead to sex or kissing or whatever isn’t allowed? Also, I’m a single girl, so I feel like the halacha should not be as strict as for a married woman.
If I do break shomer negiah, what would be the consequences, would it push away or take away from a good shidduch I could have had? Or are there other severe punishments? I’m looking for a mentor to ask a question in this department so any forward answer would be greatly appreciated.
Also, I read somewhere that shomer negiah is only not allowed because single women don’t go to the mikveh and are therefore impure. It wouldn’t be a big deal to me to go to the mikveh if that would make it allowed. Would that allow it?
Thank you.

Answer:

You are 100% correct for pulling away your hand when a guy wants to touch it! What you heard that shomer negiah is a geder and not actual halacha, is very incorrect! Shomer negiah is not a geder but a biblical prohibition. All women over the age of 12 are assumed to have already gotten their period, and are therefore considered niddah. The Torah says,) Leviticus 19-6) ”And to a woman who has menstrual impurity do not come close to being intimate”. The torah here is obviously stating that not only is sex forbidden, but that the things that lead to it are also biblically forbidden. The Talmud (Sifra, See Maimonides Sefer Hamitzvot Lo taaseh 353) says that this prohibition includes kissing hugging and any physical contact between the two. Also see Shach Y:D 157-10 who says that since it is a biblical prohibition regarding arayos (forbidden sexual relationships) that it would be included in the things that one must forfeit his life, instead of transgressing (yehoreg v’al ya’avor)! Therefore it is hardly a geder! It would be similar to saying the shomer shabbos is a geder. In truth, the only heter for shomer negiah is marriage!

You wrote “Touching boys/girls, doesn’t harm others” … it is true it doesn’t appear to harm others because it isn’t physically hurting them, but in essence it harms yourself, the person you touch, and society as a whole. A girl that has an intimate relationship with a boy before she is married is damaging herself and the relationship that she will have with her husband after she is married. Sex and physical intimacy, are no longer going to be something that is special and “only between us”, and part of our sacred intimate bond, but something that you have already experienced with others, for better or worse, but it is no longer as special. (Aside from the aspect of subconsciously comparing the two relationships.) If it is accessible with whomever you want, then marriage isn’t so special, and this causes the divorce rate to rise, and many more children to be brought up in broken homes. What is even worse, is that because everyone in our society is doing, it eventually causes that people are not so interested in getting married in the first place, because they look at intimacy merely as a way of attaining pleasure, which can be gotten outside of marriage. This causes the an erosion to the value of having a family body and people’s ideal of building a home, raising children, and having a normal family life. The reason he torah is strict about these things, in part, is in order to keep you pure, so you will be able to have the most fulfilling enriched marriage as possible.   

As a side point regarding what you wrote that you will only do (touch) what is permitted. This is not as easily said as done, because there is a rule that our sages taught us “ayn apo’tropus l’arayos”- NO ONE is guaranteed regarding illicit relationships. Healthy people have healthy hormones, and when someone is already in the situation, and those hormones are aroused and blaring, one thing does lead to another, and no one can say that they can guarantee to be stronger than it.

The other thing that you read, that the only reason to be shomer negiah is because single women don’t go to the mikva, is also incorrect. Even if the girl would have gone to the mikvah, it is still forbidden for a man to even look at her in a lustful way, (see Maimonides Issurei Biah 21-3, Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 1,3), and it is even forbidden for a man to be secluded with a single woman, even if she went to the mikva, let alone to touch her in a lustful way. In fact, in olden times, single girls used to go to the mikva, because then the laws of ritual purity effected everything that they would touch, i.e. food, clothing, furniture, therefore they had to go to the mikva. The Rabbis however said, that nowadays  that we no longer have these mitzvos (until moshiach comes), that single women should specifically NOT go to the mikva, in order that people should not erroneously think that it is now permitted to have illicit relations with her, and cause them to sin.

It is good that you are asking questions. These are important issues, and an area that many people are confused about. If you have any other question don’t hesitate to ask.

Best Wishes   

Sources:

Shut Rivash 425, Ramban Shabbos 13b.

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