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What is the Jewish view on flirting?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht


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A. Flirting by definition is playful behavior intended to arouse sexual interest. But flirting is not about "how?" or even "why?" as much as it is about "with who?" If you've picked up a pretty Jane Doe at a bar or bus stop, or hit it off with a handsome, suave stranger in the elevator, stop right there. You've already got it all wrong.

B. Flirting is fine--if it's with the one for you. And even then, you gotta do it right. If this sounds like the best flirt is no flirt, you got it. Because you don't flirt to find that special person--you find that special person and then flirt.

C. Flirting as we know it is fun but futile. It's being someone you're not to someone you don't know, and that someone being the same to you. It's getting high on hormones. It's a facade. It's fake. And it falls apart, because it never was real in the first place. Flirting says, go from the outside, in. Judaism says, come from the inside, out. Flirting puts passions before personalities. Judaism puts personalities before passions. Flirting is shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later. Judaism is ask-questions-first and-shoot-later.

Flirting puts passions before personalities. Judaism puts personalities before passions
D. "But I know people who just clicked and fell in love!" you protest. And that's fine--so do I. And? And they dated, demonstrated passionate interest, and got married and lived happily ever after--right? But that's not flirting. They took it past flirting. They got serious. And flirting is anything but.

How do I flirt?

1. Real Flirting

Real flirting requires a controlled environment, like a scientific experiment. Flirting works anywhere, but gets you nowhere. Real flirting is nerdy, but beats the dickens out of bluffing: sure you can make a girl giggle or a secretary smile--but now she's gonna marry you? Uh-uh. And besides--and this is critical—you don't know the first thing about her! So if you're significantly interested in that person, the best way to get him/her is to lay the foundation--ask a friend to make the introduction, then ask for a date. Ideally, use the network method: tell all your friends you're looking for a relationship. Be as specific as possible. They tell all theirs, and someone knows or finds someone you'd really like. They make the introduction, you take it from there. Either way saves you the flirtwork.

2. Strut Your Stuff With Your Hands Behind Your Back

Flirting is being someone else. Real flirting is being yourself. Flirting is showing off. Real flirting is showing up. Flirting is hot air. Real flirting is honesty. And despite pop psychologists and advice columnists, romantic physical contact is bad news—if a serious relationship takes root and sprouts, there'll be plenty of that later, once you...

3. Take It All The Way

"But we LOVE each other!" you wail. "Why no touching?" You love each other, huh? Now prove it--get married. You know what to do after that--that’s just what marriage is for. Before that, the Torah says "hands off" in Negative Mitzvah #353. Keeps marriage sacred.

TAGS: flirt, flirting


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Posted by: Anonymous, Iowa City, IA on Sep 05, 2005

Reading this makes me think that flirting is a very different thing for men than it is for women. I am a woman, and many of my actions have often been mistaken as sexual invitations. Just being friendly and funny or honest and attentive--men seem to interpret these things as a sign that I want to jump into bed. It seems ridiculous! Do all men think that an open, frank conversation is the same thing as "flirting"?
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.