I've been meaning to post this for a while, and Mirty's posting was the final push to write it. However, she stopped blogging for the summer, and took down all her links so I can't even link to her post about it. Instead, here's a link to AskShifra's posting on not being judgmental. You'll need it before reading this post.
My kids and I have discussed the idea of the handshake and how important it is to provide a firm, solid handshake. It broadcasts self-confidence, assurance, and confidence -- and a good handshake leaves the recipient with a sense of security and a positive image of you.
When shul is over on Friday night, I routinely experience a wide range of handshakes -- and some of them are downright pathetic.
The worst of all...is the yeshivish "dead fish" handshake. You extend your hand to give a good, firm shake of the hand, and their hand is limp. This is the worst possible handshake to receive. I don't know if this dead fish handshake is intended for people "less frum" than the dead fish handshake provider...but the impression you get as a recipient of this handshake is one of revulsion. Like, What did I do to deserve this? If someone could PLEASE explain the rationale behind this, I would greatly appreciate it. (And you all know exactly what I'm talking about). These people need the Handshaking for
We have a certain friend in our yishuv who carries enough ammunition on him to take on a small army. In addition to his wicked looking M16, Glock, survival knife, walkie-talkie, beeper, cellphone, 30-bullet magazines for his Glock pistol -- this guy is built like a truck. There's only one word for his handshake: The Bone Crusher. He always smiles and makes eye contact when he gives you the handshake...but it's always just a tad too painful...as you hear the crunch of the small bones in your hand when he gives you the grip of death. He should leave the weaponry at home, his bare hands are more than enough.
The "never-let-me-go" handshakers definitely have their issues. Their grip is usually decent, and has lots of potential. You usually notice about a second too late that their hand may be a bit clammy...but it's already too late. They keep shaking your hand, pumping it up and down, and DON'T. LET. GO. Three to four seconds is plenty of time...yet they don't get the hint and just keep on going. Think "Energizer-Bunny." It ends up feeling like an eternity and you just wish their hand would fall off so you can run away. These people usually don't know how to tell a joke, overstay their welcome, and have a poor sense of timing (perhaps saying inappropriate statements at the wrong time).
Usually women have 2 types of handshakes -- a decent grip, which is fine.
The other is a spin-off from the dead-fish, but can be written-off as a girly-girl excuse of a handshake.
(I'm sure someone's gonna kill me for these pics...but they were too good not to post)
However, here in Israel I have yet another issue to deal with. If growing up in a RWMO/LWY house in the USA meant feeling a bit funny about shaking hands with women, here I have to deal with "kiss on both cheeks" relatives. And not only from women...but from men as well. Not trying to sound homophobic, but it's totally foreign to me that after a good, solid handshake the guy opposite you goes in for a kiss on either cheek. Yow! That's just something I'll never get used to...
Of course, there's also the super-secret-Muqata handshake, but we can't discuss that here on this blog.
Somethings are just best kept...secret.
Post-thought: I just found this important handshake trivia tidbit that's worth noting as well from Wiki (these are the sort of important factoids one can also find at Jack's blog)
A study found that handshakes are a greater source of germs than: week-old coffee mugs, public laundromats, bottoms of a shoe, money, urine on a toilet seat, sweaty gym benches, hotel bed linens, dogs, poorly washed restaurant tables, communion chalices, public food groped by others (such as pretzels), public swimming pools, fish tanks, convience store coffee areas, public pay phones, public restrooms, kitchen sponges, public bathroom urinal handles and faucets and doorknobs, home-canned food, water fountains, and public baby-changing stations.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael