Annals of Halakha: Orthodox Rabbi Says Blind Can Feel Their Dates
Rabbi Sherlo: Blind men can grope their dates
Head of Hesder Yeshiva explains that 'this is the way a blind man gets to know his partner'
Kobi Nahshoni • Yent
Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, head of the Petah Tikva Hesder Yeshiva, has declared it permissible for a blind man to "feel" his date if he intends to marry her.
"This is the way a blind man gets to know his partner," the rabbi said in response to a halachic question he was asked. "It may even be correct to say that he is required to touch her."
Sherlo was then asked to base his ruling on halachic sources, and his answer was posted on the yeshiva's website.
On the site he explains that despite a religious ruling that forbids men from looking at women because of their beauty, Torah sages required all men to see their intended before marriage. He says that this is true regarding the blind as well, but because the only way they can 'see' their date is by feeling her they are permitted to do so.
"Feeling her face is void of sexual significance; it's the blind man's way of seeing," the rabbi writes. "He is also subject to the obligation to build a loving home, and this is an inseparable part of how he does this."
Sherlo also explains that despite their disability, the blind still desire to know what their wives look like. "A blind man cares about many things, even if he cannot see them," he explains.