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Topic: Analyzing someone's Handwriting

Larry Korn wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Are you allowed to analyze someone's handwriting without their permission? Is that considered an invasion of their privacy? Thanks.

Dear Larry Korn,

In some cases, "privacy" is protected by halacha. For example, someone who causes a loss of privacy by knocking down a wall or constructing a building such that it overlooks another property may be liable for damages. It's prohibited to read someone's mail without their permission. Taking someone's notebook without their permission and reading it could be considered stealing.

But when you're allowed to read the writing - if someone sends you a letter, for example - there's no prohibition against picking up clues about the person's personality contained in the writing. It's not essentially different than making judgments about a person based on the way he acts, speaks or dresses. For example, if a person speaks very quickly and nervously, you are not "invading his privacy" by thinking "he seems nervous."

You should be wary, however, of indiscriminate use of your skill to pigeonhole others. We are commanded to judge others favorably and give them the benefit of the doubt.

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