Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sensitivity To Touch

Lately there has been a good-looking man who touches my hand for professional reasons. Let us say that he is a violin teacher or an occupational therapist or something like that.

He does not just touch my hand, he holds my wrist and moves my fingers. Do you remember the scene in “The Age of Innocence” where the main character and the countess are in the back of a carriage and he unbuttons her glove and slowly peels it off? That scene sometimes is described as one of the most erotic scenes in the history of the cinema. That is how I feel when this man touches my hand even though that is not his intent. There is something about the skin to skin contact and the way he is paying careful attention to the way my hand is moving. It feels intimate even though I know it is not. Just having a man gently hold my wrist and move my fingers makes me hold my breath.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


To bloggers and blabbers who would adamently put forth as a fact that casual contact cannot bring about an emotional fluster or erotic thoughts -- case closed.

4/07/2005 07:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Nice Jewish Girl said...

anonymous . . . please give yourself a pseudonym in future.

I do not think I would feel this way if I were not S.N. I think I am this sensitive because I have gone so many years without being touched very much by men. I am like a dog begging for scraps at table.

My reaction is fascinating as a science experiment but I do not think it is a good thing.

4/07/2005 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger SholomBare said...

go to a dance club

4/07/2005 08:04:00 AM  
Anonymous b,h,&e said...

I disagree. I think your reaction is a natural one that many others may become somewhat (or entirely) desensitised towards.

(This reminds me of a story about the stiepler, if you'll indulge me for one moment. Someone once asked him if he could go to mixed beaches b/c, he reasoned, it wouldn't matter b/c the sight of mostly naked women didn't effect him. The stiepler replied, "what's your mother's name?" "Why do you want to know?" "So, I can make a mesheberach for you; you're obviously not well at all!")

Furthermore, while I agree that context (which includes people's backgrounds, personal emotions, the environment, and more) can play an important role in determining whether casual contact will cause such reactions, my main point was against those who said that such reactions just don't exist. I think they're very wrong.

But furthermore, and I'm glad you brought this up, I believe that such reactions are normal but people are largely forgetful about how they felt as teenagers when they first held a girl's (/guy's) hand, or when they first kissed. Heck, even when they first spoke! They forget about the flurry of emotions which it caused, and with time and repeated episodes, the memory all but disappeared.

People can become desensitized to just about anything: the sight of a naked woman (/man), touching a woman, kissing a woman, and even sleeping with a woman; however, this does not show that the normal reaction is a neutral one at all.

and to take this to its seeming conclusion, how else should we avoid improper sexual contact?
Should "making out" be the limit? After all, it's not sex!
How about casual kisses? "Well, those don't cause people to become excited... sometimes." (Oh, and don't you love the expression on spouses' faces when they see their loved one "casually kissing" someone else. A grimace like that is worth a picture!)
OK, well what about just shaking hands and such? (Btw, we're already back to square one.) Well, as we've seen, for a person who's avoided contact beyound that, such "casual contact" alone can be enough to trigger these reactions. And, though I don't think it would directly lead to sex, I think that it could lead to sexier contact, which could lead to sex. (In addition, this "casual contact" can easily incite lewd thoughts in men, who would be very guilty if this caused them to spill their seed, even if only accidentally.)

So where does this leave us? basically, at having no physical contact.
(Of course, one could argue that men shouldn't even be allowed to look at clothed women. And it's true that halacha forbids a person to even look at a woman's pinky if he's using it as an outlet for his sexual appetite. However, the sages either felt that simply seeing a woman is not normally enough, or perhaps it was a precaution that was considered too extreme. So, it wasn't established.)
(And as regards jewish law, this little ditty didn't even take things like nidda into consideration.)

Oh, and I was also commenting on your movie description which truly bespoke this idea very clearly. (and I don't think that the movie characters nor the audience was familiar with SN. Yet, its eroticism was still felt by all.)

4/07/2005 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous shaiky said...

It is normal and healthy to be sensitive to touch of another human. I went to the dr. yesterday and he started touching my stomach and I couldn't stop laughing, finally he gave up.
but needless to say there are times when we have to allow it, like a dr. or a therapist, bear with it... I am not sure what the halachik neccessity there is for a violin teacher, so that is either haskafik or not...

4/07/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous cloojew said...

The Talmud says that even looking at the pinky of a woman is asur if it leads to impure thoughts. Any questions?

4/07/2005 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Nice Jewish Girl said...

Cloojew . . . I am not sure who your last comment was directed to. Most of the people reading this blog, it would seem, live lives in which sometimes they see things that turn them on. That is obviously the case for me. How is your comment helpful? People live real lives - they go to work, they sit on the subway. The world is not black and white. If we tried to live our lives according to every single thing written in the Talmud then our lives would stop functioning. A) Not everything in the Talmud is halacha l'maaseh and B) Notice that many pieces of advice in the Talmud contradict each other. You can find something in the Talmud to prove ANYTHING.

You seem to have missed part of the point of my blog which is that despite halacha l'maaseh being clear cut on certain things when they are applied in real life they are often very very hard - so hard that for some people it causes real problems. So saying "the Talmud says it is assur, any questions?" is going against the point of my blog - to be kind to others and not judge too harshly or quickly.

4/08/2005 01:31:00 AM  
Anonymous someone said...

"I am not sure what the halachik neccessity there is for a violin teacher, so that is either haskafik or not..."

The halachic rationale for doctors touch is that he is doing work.

4/08/2005 03:23:00 AM  
Anonymous b,h,&e said...

I would, humbly, disagree with points A & B in your first paragraph.
A) this one I only partially disagree with b/c you're right, not everything is halacha. however, that particular piece is. (to the best of my memory.)

B) I think this may only be true rarely. 99% of the teachings in the talmud are agreed upon without a doubt. (we don't generally notice that, b/c a large percentage of the talmud is two people people arguing over a fine point -- or even just over a rationale behind an agreed upon halacha.)

"You can find something in the Talmud to prove ANYTHING."
That's not true at all.

and I think (perhaps I'll be corrected) that cloo was just trying to point out (though, I already mentioned it) that chazal felt that being stirred even by only the sight of a pinky is possible, and that one may not even do that if it will lead to impure thoughts (as opposed to those who would even suggest that judaism doesn't really mandate being careful about SN and such).

lastly, we all know that reality is not black and white; however, halacha, ideally, is. of course, it is a halacha that it is difficult to follow b/c one often has no way to avoid it (o'nes), but that doesn't grant permission for people to do it when it is possible to avoid it! And it is also important b/c it emphasizes how careful one must be on this important matter.

humbly and non-judgementally,

4/08/2005 06:51:00 AM  
Anonymous cloojew said...


NJG, you totally missed my point (which is my fault because upon re-reading, I see it was vague).

My reference to the Talmud was in SUPPORT of what you were saying--that even the slightest contact can cause an erotic response. I wasn't underscoring the issur because, as you pointed out, it is nearly impossible to avoid such things.

I was emphasising that it's not crazy to be so turned on by such a slight connection. Lulei demistafina, of course.

4/08/2005 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous marriedguy said...

Hey cloojew you are still, in my humble opinion, misusing the expression lulei demistifina!

I disagree that it's impossible to keep the Halacha.

What the Talmud prohibits is looking not seeing. Its impossible not to see inadvertantly. But looking is an action. Yes, a man should avoid looking at a woman's body part, any body part, whether its a finger or any other part, if the intention is to objectify and to get pleasure from this. In terms of cloojew's comments, its not that the pinky stirs up feelings. Its rather that an objectifier can use a pinky or a toe or a breast or a neck or even a voice to stir himself up.

And when the Halacha allows touching when its part of a person's job, the logic is that since its part of work, it will not be sexualized not that work overrides the prohibition.

So the violin teach might be allowed this touch since he is not sexualizing it. Do you, NJG, need to avoid this touch? I don't know if this is a strictly Halachic question since your not a guy.

4/09/2005 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

In these matters and in these times, it is nearly impossible to never be titilated by something, even inadvertently--be it a sight, a touch, a sound, a scent.

Lulei demistafina. (which I am using in its correct context. And I'll prove it: If you Google the phrase, three of my entries pop up. So there!)

4/10/2005 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous shaiky said...

What is Lulei demistafina?

4/12/2005 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous feel said...

NJG, I totally know what your talking about and I think its very normal. I am considerably younger than you, and I feel the same things. Its all in the mind and the mood. Sometimes the slightest touch can effect me greatly, yet other times not at all. Do you know what I'm saying.

Yes, it very much has to do with being S.N.

I feel for you... Hang in there.

4/18/2005 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i used to be n ot hat religeos so I touched girls, i thenstarted becomig more religeos and ifeltbad when i touched girls but i couldnt haold my desire nit to. it made me feel awqward and i had that uncofortable feeling which you had

12/11/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am over 50 years old orthodox and married . willing to help with your
orthodox complexities .Go to the limit , everything except actual sex
very very very discreet .

4/13/2009 05:03:00 PM  

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