General Question

jeanm's avatar

Is it forbidden in some interpretations of Judaism, as it is in Islam, to eat with your left hand?

Asked by jeanm (279points) July 25th, 2008

A friend is editing a paper on infectious disease and found a reference to restrictions when eating with the left hand in religions such as Islam and Judaism. I’m Jewish – never heard of it!

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12 Answers

ariwriter's avatar

I never heard of such a practice but I can imagine it may be a Jewish custom among the more orthodox and Hasidic communities.

I found a similar Q&A discussion at Yahoo Groups about the topic.

susanc's avatar

welcome back jeanm!!!

jtvoar16's avatar

I am not sure, but I can ask my friend in Japan, I do however, understand where something like that could come from.

jeanm's avatar

Might this custom be linked to Sephardic rather than Ashkenazi traditions?

gailcalled's avatar

I can’t speak for the entire collective who follow Judaism, but I have known lots of Orthodox Jews (many were in the huge family attached to husband #1). Never has that issue ever been discussed. I know that there are prayers before both eating and ablutions. (Hey, Jean. Nice to see you again.)

gailcalled's avatar

PS. I’m Jewish, too. Ask Seth if he is still the Rabbi. His wife is a Sephardic Jew.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I’m also Jewish, and have read a whole library on Judaism, and I’ve never heard of anything like that.

Arglebargle_IV's avatar

I did an exchange program and lived for a year in Chile in the early 80’s. Being left-handed was a big deal, to my midwestern surprise. It was not acceptable for me to eat in public using my left hand. I learned to eat with my right. It was ‘strange’ but okay for me to write with my left in school. I remember the family asked me ‘why’ my mother didn’t slap my hand and keep me from using the left. I replied the my mother was left handed. That got a ‘knowing’—that explains it all—response from the crowd. The family I was staying with was nominally Christian. I found that there were many Islamic influences on the Christianity practiced as well as the general culture. Siesta. Mass five times a day. Some of which impressed me as superstition and others which I found I really enjoy. The left-handed thing was generally attributed to Islamic culture (though I profess to be no expert!). Oh yes, I had pushed this aside. Almost everytime I told a companion (of like status/class) that I was left handed, the very next question would be ‘Which hand do you use in the bathroom?’ (I said I washed my hands…)
You all sound rather enlightened and god bless you. All sorts of prejudice flourish in places you might not suspect. I mean to offend no one.

srmorgan's avatar

Never heard of it in context with Judaism. Not a whit.

Islam. yes. Within Hinduism, seems I read that somewhere but I can’t be certain.

SRM (liiving in Nojewsville, NC)

jtvoar16's avatar

I agree. My friend said he has never heard of such a thing in Judaism.

Reesale's avatar

no such thing in judaism

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