“Kosher Handshake”

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Dear Rabbi Simon,
When a woman is offered a handshake by a man in a professional setting, are there ever circumstances that would override the prohibition with regards to touching ? For example, if the male in question has just suffered something of an embarrassing nature and then proceeds to extend his hand to a female – would she be permitted to respond in kind out of compassion and as not to add ‘insult to the injury’? We assume that the man in question is oblivious to the prohibition of touching which is generally applicable.
Many thanks and kind regards

Dear Hindi,

Thank you for your question. This subject is hotly debated in the halakhic literature. My view is that, in the western world, there are grounds to be lenient in a professional setting, where a handshake is regarded simply as a social convention.
Best wishes,
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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