Ethics

For the week ending 24 November 2012 / 9 Kislev 5773

Kissing in the Synagogue

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: My son is soon going to have his Bar Mitzvah in our synagogue and will be reading the haftara on Shabbat. I have noticed that some fathers are so overcome with emotion on such occasions that they kiss their sons when they complete the reading. I have heard from others that this is improper behavior in a synagogue. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Mazal Tov on the upcoming Bar Mitzvah. Enjoy your well-deserved nachat but save the kiss for when you get home.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 98:1 in the Rama) rules that it is forbidden for a man to kiss his young children in the synagogue. The reason given is that a Jew must internalize that no love for a human can compete with his love for G-d.

There are, however, occasions when such a kiss is in order. It is well known that when a child falls and cries one of the most effective ways of soothing him is to give him a parental kiss. Since the purpose of such a kiss is therapeutic rather than an expression of love, it does not constitute a competition for love of G-d and is therefore very much in order.

© 1995-2014 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Ethics

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.