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Siblings vacationing in same room/bed

Rabbi Ari ShvatIyyar 12, 5771
1653
Question
We are busy planning a family vacation. Can my teenage son and daughter sleep in the same hotel room? What if there was a double sleeper couch in the parents room for children- could they sleep on that together? What about sleeping in an open loft in a tzimmer? Would it make a difference if the third sibling came along and there were three teenage siblings - 2 boys and a girl , sleeping in the loft? Also , my son refuses to touch my daughter, which she finds awkward and insulting. What is the halacha regarding physical contact between opposite sexed family members? Thank you
Answer
Shalom. A teenaged or adult brother and sister can sleep in the same hotel room on vacations (but not on a regular basis at home, Chochmat Adam, 126, 12), but never in the same bed or couch (Taz and Be’er Heitev, E. H. 21). Regarding the loft, if they are on separate mattresses, it’s fine, but not on the same mattress, even if the third sibling is with them. If it solves a problem of space or expense, a father can sleep with his older daughter in the same bed (just not on a regular basis, or if one of them feels uncomfortable doing so), and similarly, a mother with her son. Regarding physical contact between teenage siblings, your son is correct in not wanting to hug or kiss his teenage sister. Please explain to your daughter that this is not insulting or personal, but rather stresses the importance of modesty and holiness of sexual relationships. On the other hand, you can explain to your son that other types of physical contact which have no sexual connotation, like for her to cut his hair or vice-versa, is allowed between siblings (Shulchan Aruch and Taz, ibid). Fathers and grandfathers can (and should!) kiss their teenage or adult daughters and granddaughters, as can mothers and grandmothers to their teenage or adult sons and grandsons. Hope you enjoy your vacation and have successful family bonding! With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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