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    Electric Shavers

    Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Star-K Rabbinic Administrator

    Since the Star-K often receives questions regarding the use of electric shavers, this article will address the Halachic concerns of removing one’s facial hair. The Torah states, Do not round the corners of one’s head and do not destroy the corner of one’s beard. The Torah continues and the corner of one’s beard they shall not shave.

    What are the actions of forbidden facial hair removal? The Mishna in Machos discusses which methods of removing facial hair are forbidden. hakafa, “rounding” refers to the complete removal of hair from the temple area. Where as the terms geluach, “shaving” and , hishchisa”destroying” refer to forbidden forms of removing one’s beard.

    The Mishna does not offer a practical explanation of these actions. Do these terms refer to the cutting of hair using different types of shaving implements, or do these actions refer to different degrees of hair removal using the same shaving implement? There is much discussion about these concepts amongst Halachic authorities, yet, the consensus of opinion is that these forbidden violations of hakafa,geluach and hishchisa” are achieved by using shaving implements that have different cutting abilities to cut one’s facial hair.

    The shaving implements that are discussed in Shulchan Orech are:

    1.scissors, a dual edged cutting instrument whose blades work in unison to remove hair growth. Scissors generally do not have the ability to cut the hair close to the skin.

    2.taar the razor sharp straight-edged blade that is an extremely efficient means of hair removal.

    3. a scissor or scissor-like instrument that delivers a closer cut, which is similar to but not as effective as a peyos.

    As was mentioned earlier, there are varied opinions amongst the Poskim which shaving instruments are permitted to be used to cut a particular area of hair growth. Putting the merits of having or keeping long peyos aside, regarding the shaving of the temple area, Halachic authorities are generally in agreement that scissors, because they do not give a close cut, would be permissible to be used for the peyos area and would not qualify for a violation of hakofos harosh. Cutting one’s peyos with a razor is forbidden. Therefore, taking a razor-cut haircut in thepeyos area would constitute a violation of hakafa. misparayim kein tahar, for example, a pair of clippers, is questionable. The Shulchan Aruch says we should take a stringent rather than lenient position with scissor-like instruments. Therefore, scissors would be the only permissible shaving instrument to trim the temple area.

    The issue of shaving the beard area is more involved since we have two actions working in concert, giluach and hashchasa. What is meant by the termhashchasa, destroying the hair? According to the Chochmas Odam, hashchasa is defined as the process of removing the entire facial hair below the skin. Obviously, plucking out a hair removes the hair below the skin. Can “below the skin” hair removal be achieved with a straight-edge razor blade? The hair shaft grows under the skin as well as above the skin. When one shaves with a razor, the skin is pulled taut actually exposing the hair growing below the skin. The razor runs against the hair grain in the opposite direction of the pulled skin lopping off the exposed hair. When the taut skin relaxes, the hair is actually cut below the skin. That is the definition of hashchasa. Giluach is simply any normal method of shaving.

    Alternative effective methods of beard removal e.g. electrolysis, depilatory, or tweezers would definitely qualify for haschasa but would not qualify for a means of shaving, geluach, therefore they would be Halachically permissible. On the other hand, scissors qualify as a normal means of shaving. Since, when using this method you can only cut a beard to a stubble, the other criteria of hashchasa would not be fulfilled. Scissors, therefore, would be a Halachically permissible method to “shave” one’s beard, providing that the blade nearer to the skin, is not sharp enough to cut by itself.

    Based on the above, the razor blade, is the classic example of a shaving instrument that the Torah forbids. The Gemora definitively states this position clearly; the Gemora says that shaving is forbidden with a davar shehu mashchis zehu tahar. The razor according to all Halachic authorities fulfills both prohibitions of geluach and haschasa and is forbidden to be used.

    Seemingly, any shaving implement that effectively cuts hair below the skin would also be categorized as a tahar, regardless if the shaving implement is single or double edged. As long as the hair is cut below the skin you would violate both actions of hashchasa and geluach. Any shaving instrument giving a less effective cut, where the hair is not cut below the skin but even with the skin, would be categorized as a mispareinm kein tahar, cut.

    In summary the three levels of geluach are:

    1.misparayim – that cuts above the skin, a shaving process that does not qualify for geluach of the beard.

    2.misparayim kein tahar – that cut at skin level, which would also not qualify for hashchasa.

    3.tahar that cuts below the skin creating geluach and hashchasa, the Torah’s forbidden combination of hair removal.

    How would the electric shaver fare in the Kosher shaving arena? The electric shaver is a relatively recent introduction to the shaving scene. Prior to the shaver, the only practical method of Kosher beard removal was the use of shaving powder. The powder was mixed with water and made a very offensive smelling paste that was spread on one’s face and ate away the person’s facial hair. One had to be careful to remove the paste in haste so that only facial hair and not facial skin would be removed.

    The electric shaver seemed to be a welcome technical Halachic introduction, although shaving in general has not been without controversy. However, those Halachic authorities that permitted shaving with electric shavers did so because it seemed to fulfill all Halachic requirements. The shaver was made up of a vibrating head and screen, the beard hair passed between the cutting edges of the screen and the vibrating head, and was cut off in a scissor-like cutting fashion between head and screen. The shave was closer than manual scissors since the shaver cut the beard close to the skin yet it never effectively gave a smooth shave because they were not as powerful as they are today.

    As shavers got more sophisticated they became more Halachically challenging. With some models the stronger motors made the head vibrate faster and cut the beard closer. The lift and cut shaving systems that evolved from the older Norelco Triplehead system claimed that they could shave as close as a razor. As the skin was held taut the shaver alleged to cut thebeard below the skin like a tahar. Although shaving professionals will admit that the closeness of one’s shave depends upon a person’s beard conditions and texture, realistically, the system works better in theory than in practice.

    Hagaon R’ Moshe Feinstein Z”L was of the opinion that the gemaras statement eizahu geluach sheyaish bo hashchasa hevei omer ze tahar is teaching us that only the tahar , the straight-edged razor, is the Torah’s forbidden form of hashchasa and geluach. Any other method of hashchasa and geluach would be permitted. Based on this fundamental understanding of the gemara, electric shavers would be permitted even if the shaver removed facial hair beneath the skin, since the shaver works in a scissor-like and not razor-like action.

    However, due to the increased sharpness of the blades of the rotating heads it is conceivable that the blades could cut the beard hairs off before the combined cutting of blade and screen. Therefore, even according to the Poskim that permit electric shavers this shaver would be problematic, because it would be cutting like a tahar which is forbidden. Can one practically determine whether the shaver in question is a Kosher model?

    Hagaon R’ Moshe Feinstein z”l, who permitted the use of electric shavers used a criteria similar to the shochet who would demonstrate how sharp his chalaf (shechita knife) was. To show the sharp edge of his knife, a shochet would take a hair from his beard; holding the hair in one hand the shochet would see whether the chalaf cut the dangling hair. If the hair was severed, the shochet’s steel passed the test.

    So too, in a similar manner, R’ Moshe would often test the sharpness of an electric shaver’s blades. He would take a beard hair and test the blades! The shaver would be acceptable if the hair was held taut and was not split in half.

    The only practical suggestion that can be given to one whose shaver failed this test is to dull the blades. This can be done by taking a key or some other hard, flat instrument and running it along the sharp edge of the blade. Obviously, this shaver will not work as well, but, nevertheless, it is still effective and will transform a previously questionable shaver into one that is acceptable by the Poskim who permit the use of shavers.


    In fact, the heads of both my son’s yeshivos *require* them to be clean-shaven (barring sefirah time).

    The Wolf


    AP Yid Beat me to the punch.


    Here is something interesting.


    The Zohar and the Arizal’s teachings are pretty straight forward on the issue.


    Wolfish no offense but thats REALLY a strange requirement, of all things!

    im no posek but from what i know it’s assur to shave. Period. Doesn’t matter that so many people do it. (many people do things that are wrong, wake up and smell the coffee, thats the latest yetzer hara,”but everyone does it”)

    i heard that using a trimmer is less chomur.


    Wolfish no offense but thats REALLY a strange requirement, of all things!

    im no posek but from what i know it’s assur to shave. Period.

    Obviously, the administration of my son’s yeshiva disagrees with you. Here’s the relevant section of the student handbook (emphasis mine):

    Additionally, on certain special occasions, such as a visit by a Talmid Chacham, special Yeshiva functions and Rosh Chodesh, talmidim will be required to demonstrate proper kavod by wearing a solid white shirt and tie.

    deemed inappropriate by the Administration.

    The Wolf

    Max Well

    According to the Zohar, the beard is considered to be a channel of holiness and blessing and is therefore not to be shaven or trimmed by any method.

    Zohar Vol. 11 Safra Det’zniuta

    Third Chapter

    33. Nine precious features were granted to the beard. Everything that is hidden and not revealed is lofty and precious. THE BEARD was concealed in the Scriptures, FOR THERE IS NO MENTION OF THE BEARD SUCH AS, “THE EYES OF HASHEM,” “THE EARS OF HASHEM” AND “HIS CHEEKS ARE LIKE A BED OF SPICES” (SHIR HASHIRIM 5:13). BUT THERE IS NO MENTION OF THE BEARD, AND THAT IS BECAUSE IT IS LOFTY AND PRECIOUS.

    34. The first feature of the beard: Hairs upon hairs EMERGE from before the opening of the ears to the top of the mouth, MEANING THE UPPER LIP. THE SECOND FEATURE: It is from this top OF THE LIP to the other top OF THE LIP. THE THIRD FEATURE: THERE IS a path below the two nostrils OF THE NOSE so full OF HAIR that it is invisible. THE FOURTH FEATURE: The cheeks are covered WITH HAIR on one side and the other side. THE FIFTH FEATURE: In them TWO apples OF THE FACE are seen, red as a rose. THE SIXTH FEATURE: on one thread hangs coarse black HAIR down to the chest. THE SEVENTH FEATURE: The lips are free OF HAIR and are as red as a rose.

    35. THE EIGHTH FEATURE: Short HAIRS travel down the neck and cover the nape. THE NINTH FEATURE: HAIRS both long and short, HARD as sinews descend equally, MEANING THAT THEY EQUALLY MINGLE WITH EACH OTHER. One who has these nine features is mighty and strong, NAMELY ZEIR ANPIN.

    36. It is written, “Out of my distress I called on Yah” (Tehilim 118:5). David recited nine clauses until “all nations compassed me about” (Ibid. 10), in order to surround HIMSELF WITH THEM and protect himself. THEY CORRESPOND TO THE NINE FEATURES OF THE BEARD OF ZEIR ANPIN. 1. “OUT OF MY DISTRESS I CALLED ON YAH.” 2. “YAH ANSWERED ME WITH LIBERATION.” 3. “HASHEM IS ON MY SIDE, I WILL NOT FEAR.” 4. “HASHEM TAKES MY PART WITH THOSE WHO HELP ME.” 5. “IT IS BETTER TO TAKE REFUGE IN HASHEM.” 6. A SECOND “IT IS BETTER TO TAKE REFUGE IN HASHEM.” TOGETHER WITH THE THREE TIMES ‘MAN’ IS MENTIONED, WHICH ALLUDE TO THREE FEATURES, THEY ARE NINE, AND THESE NINE FEATURES ARE IN THE SECRET OF THE VERSE, “And the earth, brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree, yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind” (Beresheet 1:12). These nine FEATURES OF THE BEARD were uprooted from a whole name, NAMELY FROM THE THIRTEEN FEATURES OF THE BEARD OF ARICH ANPIN, AND CAME TO ZEIR ANPIN. Afterwards, they were AGAIN planted in a complete name, as is said, “And Hashem Elohim planted”, WHICH IS THE FULL NAME OF ATIK AND ZEIR ANPIN. There are thirteen features of the Beard in the supernal one, NAMELY ARICH ANPIN. The lower, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN, appears in nine features OF THE BEARD, AND THIRTEEN PLUS NINE EQUALS 22. These are the 22 letters that were engraved through them.

    37. Therefore, IF ONE SEES IN a dream that he was holding in his hand the beard of an important man, then he is at peace with his Master and his enemies shall be subdued under him. The upper Beard, OF ARICH ANPIN, that illuminates to the lower BEARD OF ZEIR ANPIN is more so, because the upper Beard is called ‘abundant in Chesed’, while in Zeir Anpin it is CALLED plain ‘Chesed’. When he needs light, the upper Beard then illuminates and HE TOO is called abundant in Chesed.

    Max Well

    Devorim 19:27:

    Do not cut off the hair on the sides of your head. Do not shave off the edges of your beard.

    From the Arizal

    taf – 400

    ayin- 70


    =670 +1 [for the word itself called kollel, a traditional Kabbalistic hermeneutic]

    Total =671

    Ado-nai spelled: aleph dalet nun yud

    Ado-nai spelled out in full

    aleph spelled aleph-1 lamed-30 pei -80 = 111

    nun spelled nun -50 vav -6 nun-50 = 106

    yud spelled yud -10 vav -6 dalet-4 = 20


    However, you already know that the head [of a person] incorporates allusions to the ten sefirot, and that its allusion to malchut constitutes the secret of the Sides of the Head. Thus, PeAH [side] has the numerical value of the Divine name Elokim, and PeAH [side] is always in malchut.

    PeAH spelled pei aleph hei

    pei : 80

    aleph : 1

    hei : 5

    Total = 86

    Elo-him spelled aleph lamed hei yud mem

    aleph – 1

    lamed -30

    hei – 5

    yud -10

    mem -40

    Total= 86

    However, there is no sustained existence to the world except through the judgments, and it is not fitting to remove them completely. To that end, we need to retain only the dimension of malchut [i.e. peah], but this applies only to the head of Zeir Anpin [man]. However, Nukva [woman] does not shave her head. The reason is that since she corresponds to Nukva, and since all the judgments are in Asiya [world of action/Nukva], were she to remove the judgments from the head of Nukva, there would not remain any judgments in the world. Accordingly, a woman needs to keep her hair, and does not shave her head.

    My master was extremely careful not to get a haircut after midday, that is after the time arrives for praying the Large Mincha. Even on the eve of the Sabbath [Friday], he was cautious.

    It is fitting that a man not uproot any hair from his beard at all, for the beard hairs are channels of Divine spiritual abundance. He should intend that the top of the beard is the First Tikun.

    E-l, in the secret of the thirteen attributes of mercy, and the hair of the beard on the left and right is twice the numeric value of the word zakan (beard), and that is the numerical value of the Divine name Sha-dai.

    Zakan spelled zayin kuf nun

    kuf -100

    nun -50

    157 x 2= 314

    Sha-dai spelled shin dalet yud

    shin -300

    dalet- 4

    yud – 10


    Together the beard as a whole is E-l Sha-dai. For this reason a man should be mindful at all times not to grasp his beard so that he does not uproot any hair from it.

    Taamei Hamitzvot, Parashat Kedoshim, pg.194

    Max Well

    Section I: Practices

    When a man or a woman gets a haircut, or a man trims or shaves his beard, each should have this done by a person of the same sex..

    1. A man does not shave, nor permit others to shave, his beard at all, with the exception of the mustache that overlaps the top lip, and this is only to be trimmed to above the lip with a scissors. (8)

    2. According to some, a man does not allows his peyot i.e. the hair of his temples and upper sideburns between forehead to back of ears (i.e. sides of the head) to be trimmed (9) except when the peyot extend past the length of the beard and then are trimmed with a scissors (10).

    3. A man should keep the hair of his head short (11), with the exception of course of the peyot and beard.


    1 Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 181:12

    2 Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 181:6

    3 ibid.

    4 Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 181:3,10 and Har Tzvi, Y.D. 143

    5 Makot 20A, Rambam, Avodat Kochavim 12:6

    6 Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 181:3 see Veyesh Osrim & 181:11 & Arizal quoted above.

    7 ibid

    9 Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 181:11

    Max Well

    Hair: The Kabbalistic Significance

    Part 2

    Section II: Spiritual Insights

    The path of Kabbala is a profound, yet subtle spiritual path, nestled within the heart of Torah. The mitzvot we will be exploring will distinguish clearly between a person, whose commitment to Torah is limited to the keeping of the letter of the Divine Law, and a person whose commitment soars to the level of passionate harmonization with the spirit of the Divine Law.

    Any part of the natural order can be perceived in a variety if ways. Hair, the subject of our exploration here, is no exception. For a scientist, hair is seen and understood in terms of its function in the human body; for a swimmer, in terms of its implications on the speed of the race; and for an advertising executive, as an instrument to attract customers. All these perspectives are understandable, yet far removed from how a Torah practitioner and Kabbalist relates to hair.

    Many people today experience and relate to their hair as an important expression of their self and something that is integral to their self-esteem. Thus for moderns, it should be reiterated that the Torah gracefully allows them to keep their hairstyles. This is the case provided the hairstyles conform with basic Torah norms of modesty and with the laws relating to shaving and haircuts that we have seen above and will explain later. There is an element of the Torah, the Tree of Life, that makes space for a spectrum of people who are all in different places along the spiritual path. The disciple of Kabbala, representing the epitome of spiritual aspiration in Torah, seeks from the depths of Torah a way of relating to their hair that brings greater spiritual purpose, understanding and maturation.

    When the Arizal teaches that the hair of the head is of the quality of judgment (din), perhaps this is also tacit recognition, in one respect, of the intimate association of hair with ego. For anyone living in the Western world such a connection between hair and ego is beyond need of demonstration. Likewise, is the understanding nothing more than ego limits a person. The hair of the head, located as it is on the top of the human body, can be perceived as the keter (crown) of negative human ego. Interestingly, a woman who expresses the Divine persona of Nukva, is required to cover her hair on the head but is not to eliminate it. In actuality, the opposite is true. She is discouraged from making herself hairless, given the need for her embodiment of a tamed force of din in this world. Women are rooted in the left side of the Tree of Life and correspond to the gevurot (contractive power). Her gevurot need to be contained but not eliminated. Men are rooted in the Right side of the Tree of Life, and find their source in the chasadim; therefore, their gevurot/dinim i.e. the hair of their heads, needs to be eliminated largely but not completely.

    In the words of the Zohar (19), “Disruption of spiritual consciousness (tiruf daat) will befall a man who allows his wife to expose her hair; this


    Eccles. 7:14.

    Num. 6:5.

    Rambam, Sefer Mitzvot, Mitzvah 8.

    Tomer Devorah.

    Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 203:7.

    Kad HaKemach, Rosh Hashanah Ayin, aleph.

    See Shaar Hakavanot, Inyan Chag Hashavuot, for quotation of famous Midrash.

    Otzrot Chaim, Derush Adam Kadmon, pg. 6.

    Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 2:6 and see Shabbat 156b.

    Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 1:1.


    E-l is name of G-d associated with the sefira of chesed, and Sha-dai is associated with trust see Ex. 6:3, Rashi ad loc.

    Job 19:26.

    Derech Hashem 1:3:8.

    Gen. 2:25.

    Guide for the Perplexed, ch. 2.

    Zohar, Parashat Naso 125b-126b.

    Section 3: Meditation Instructions

    When a man is beginning to have his haircut, he should intend:

    1. To fulfill the will of his Maker in not having the corners of his head shaved with a razor.

    2. To fulfill the will of his Maker in not having his beard cut by a razor.

    Besides these preparatory meditations, he can intend:

    1. To remove the judgments (dinim) from his head to the extent that he does.

    2. To do the meditation while reflecting on the above gematria of the word toar and name of Hashem.

    Throughout the day, a man can attune to his beard, as an expression of the Divine names E-l Sha-Dai. This should not be done in the bathroom or an unclean place. While contemplating, a person can focus on opening his heart in kindness, and developing his inner strength, thus becoming more truly trusted as a vessel for the Divine Will.

    A woman, when putting on her hair-covering, can intend to conceal and sweeten her judgments (dinim). She can also contemplate ways in which she can appropriately manifest her inborn quality of gevura (power). Hair, as a clearly sexual dimension of her existence (1), can suggest a meditation focused on the partial concealment of her physical self so that her spiritual self can illuminate creation with greater clarity.

    The goal of the Kabbala is the transformation of a human being into a chariot for the Divine. Hair, an aspect of our existence that has been exiled into banality and perversion, in Kabbala is recognized for its spiritual power, properties and potential. Contemporary Jewish spiritual seekers are encouraged to work with this Kabbalistic tradition and experiment with its fruits.


    wolf – ok whatever you say. i never knew bochurim also have “dress requirements in the handbook/registration” in thought its self understood.


    on that note – by girls it should also be self understood, but whatever


    maxwell: “Please do the reverse”

    I did, Shulchan Aruch YD 181:11


    So al pi shittas Chofetz Chaim, Chazon Ish, Rav Kanievsky et al, it is forbidden to completely remove the beard but you can trim it? Or is trimming assur as well, al pi shittas Chofetz Chaim, Chazon Ish, Rav Kanievsky et al?

    Pashuteh Yid

    As others have noted, Reb Moshe is matir trimming and even shaving. He says that kimat all the gedolim before the time of the Arizal would trim beards. The Shulchan Oruch in 181 as was also noted by others says it is only those who follow the Ari that are noheg not to trim, and that there is no reason why one must adopt this chumra.

    A sefer recently came out with a title like Beards: Halchic Imperative or Kabbalistic Stringency. What I found confusing was that while clearly it is Kabbalistic, as the Shulchan Oruch says, the book seemed to be trying to make a case that we are obligated to follow this chumra, i.e., that it is halachic.

    One final question I have is that there is a well-known Mishna that says Eilu Megalchin Bmoed, etc. (Gives exceptions for those who may shave on Chol Hamoed, such as those who were released from captivity, and could not shave before Yontof.) The gemara says the reason for the general issur of shaving on Chol Hamoed is that one should not enter Yontof while he is a menuval (unkempt).

    Doesn’t that clearly indicate that A) there is no issur the rest of the year, and B) that it is actually preferable to shave or trim, as it is disgusting to walk around otherwise, especially on Yontof.

    Similarly, the fact that an avel Rachman Litzlan is forbidden to shave, doesn’t that indicate that the rest of the klal is allowed?

    How is kabbala allowed to contradict an open and shut gemara? We go like the gemara.


    I know the thread is about beards, but I was personally told by a Gadol that I could trim my mustache grown with the beard.


    when i started getting into the music business i asked my rav if i’m allowed to shave and his response was that as a bochur i’m required to shave but after i got married he said i’m only alowed to shave before i play by a simcha

    Max Well

    hello99, that’s regarding trimming, it doesn’t say you can completely remove it. Can you cite any heter to completely remove a beard?


    maxwell: not true, Shulchan Aruch permits ??????? ???? ??? which completely removes all hair. The Poskim who asser either pasken not like Shulchan Aruch Shach Taz etc, or they assume an electric shaver is a ta’ar mamash.


    Also Teshuvos Chasam Sofer OC 159 permits a close scissor action.



    The Chasam Sofer also writes there that there is no reason to keep a beard based on Kabbalah either.

    Is that better, mod?


    Hello99, sounds like your saying the Chasam Sofer (who holds only a ”close cut” per your interpretation) disagrees with the S”A (who says completely shaved, per your interpretation)? Also, are you claiming the CC & CI disagree with the S”A??


    helpful: The opposite. The Chasam Sofer paskens LIKE Shulchan Aruch et al permitting misparaim kein ta’ar, a close cutting non-razor. An electric shaver is generally accepted to fall into this category.

    The Chofetz Chaim does NOT asser shaving for halachic reasons, though he does disapprove for Kabbalistic ones. The misconception that he assered them is based on Likutei Halachos where he forbids shaving with a “machinka”, however simple research demonstrates that he is NOT referring to an electric shaver as they were first invented after the printing of this sefer.

    The Chazon Ish may be machmir for the Teshuvas HaRashba who forbids misparaim kein ta’ar, however the Shulchan Aruch Shach Taz Chasam Sofer etc do NOT pasken this way.


    So, where do we stand on this? Does R’ Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, the Chazon Ish Z’l and others who “assur” shaving do so because they believe modern electric shavers, powders and the like are mamash a taar which the torah assurs, are they strongly advising one to keep a beard because of the Zohar and other sources mentioned?


    I beleive they asser for reasons of Halacha, but not powders. They either consider an electric shaver a ta’ar or they forbid misparaim kein ta’ar not like Shulchan Aruch and the vast majority of Poskim.


    In Chaim Berlin, bochrim are supposed to ask R’ Ahron permission to start growing a beard.


    reb chaim kanievsky can say that its completely ossur.

    we little people are not allowed to denounce all the rabbonim who said electric shavers are mutar.


    “we little people are not allowed to denounce all the rabbonim who said electric shavers are mutar.”

    OR all those who use them.


    Men can be yotzei all shittos by simply having a beard.


    You can also be yotze all shittos in hilchos lashon hara by not making any negative comments about those who do shave.


    “reb chaim kanievsky can say that its completely ossur.

    we little people are not allowed to denounce all the rabbonim who said electric shavers are mutar.”

    Because R’ Chaim is not from among us “little people” he doesn’t denounce all those who disagree with him either. That’s what his little people have taken on by themselves.


    Men can be yotzei all shittos by simply having a beard.

    And women can be yotzei all shitos by shaving their heads, covering it with a sheitel, followed by a tichel (which covers the entire sheitel) and then covered by a hat.

    What? You don’t want to do that?

    The Wolf


    I say go for it! I’ll be first in line. Never fear looking like a Jew.


    I say go for it! I’ll be first in line.

    Somehow I doubt you really mean that.

    The Wolf


    On another thread someone (not myself) said the Chazon Ish said he would almost vomit when he saw a Yid without a beard. The Wolf asked for a source. That quote of the CI is brought by Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlita (a talmid of the CI) in his Sefer Hadros Ponim, p. 304 as well as in Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita’s (a nephew of the CI) Sefer Orchas Yosher.


    There are many things that people do -with mesora and blessings from their Rabbonim/poskim- that other poskim dont agree with.

    I’m sure you dont lead your lives exactly according to everything all the current poskim pasken therefore dont expect everyone else to take on your chumros.


    I don’t see any shverkeit in the saying he could almost vomit when seeing a Jewish man without a beard. If I saw a man dressed as a woman I’d almost vomit too. The CI essentially said a man without a beard is ”dressing” like a woman, hence he would almost vomit.


    “On another thread someone (not myself) said the Chazon Ish said he would almost vomit when he saw a Yid without a beard.” (Helpful said)

    “the chazon ish would vomit when he saw bochurim without beards ” (Astrix said)

    Saying one feels like ALMOST vomiting is a personal expression of disgust or distaste for something. I almost vomit when I see certain types of people acting drunk and disorderly in public. If that is what the CI said, he was expressing his contempt for the practice of men shaving.

    However, that is not the same as saying he actually DID vomit when seeing someone beardless (which is a rather extreme physical reaction). So I could definitely understand the source quoting the CI indicating that he FELT like vomiting when witness to a beardless bochur, but that does not support a quote that he DID in fact, vomit. So which is it, what are the actual words of the sources quoted?


    The Ramcha”l apparently was clean shaven.


    Wolf –

    According to the Zohar, women shouldn’t shave their head.


    He would ”almost” vomit. See the sources cited above.



    “The CI essentially said a man without a beard is ”dressing” like a woman, hence he would almost vomit.”

    I think we need the source of where the CI said what he said. Lets not start reading into it and making up our own perushim of what he meant. There were a number of Gedolim and really great Jews who didnt have beards. It was the Litvish minhag not to have a beard so many great people didnt have beards until they became official Rabbis or Rosh Yeshivah.


    Apushatayid: so true

    Max Well

    “????? ?????

    ???? ????? ???

    ??”? ????? ?????

    ???? ?????”

    [the Chazon Ish]
    [the inquirer]
    [removal of the beard with] depilatory cream…[or] close-cutting scissors.. I find this matter very painful…I am accustomed to this being prohibited since the earlier generations, and [the prohibition] was very severe…[Jews] have learned it from the non-Jews during their exile…Although this sickness has spread even among the bnei Torah, the issue has not changed as a result of this, and therefore my soul boils [with rage]
    ??? ???? ????-??? / ????? ????? ??????

    Max Well


    by the Gaon, Yerushalayim

    The Chofetz Chaim wrote (Likkutei Halachos, end of Makkos)

    that recently a machine had been introduced for shaving the

    hair, and, [using it for shaving the beard] is, in his opinion,

    close to [transgressing] a prohibition of the Torah itself.

    In our opinion, if this was the case in his

    time, when [the machine] was not so advanced and even the

    lowest setting did not give a very close shave, how much more

    so in our time when the machine works by electricity [giving a

    much closer shave], it is considered destroying the

    hair in the manner itself…


    Rav Kamenetsky wrote as follows in Emes l’yacov Yoreh Deah 181

    …Regarding [the prohibition of using] machines for shaving [the beard], this

    is not just a Chumra [Halachic strictness] but a substantive [Halachic] issue,

    and residents of Bnei Brak are certainly obligated to follow the ruling of the

    local Halachic authorities (Poskim) [who prohibit using shavers].

    In fact, I do not know whether the great Torah authorities (Gedolim) of

    America [ever] explicitly permitted them; it is possible that they kept silent

    because no one asked them [their opinion], and they avoided the issue,

    knowing that their words would not be heeded.

    As for [any leniency] that has become accepted in past generations, it is

    a fact that over time there have been many improvements in the machines,

    and it is possible that, as a result of these improvements, shaving with them

    has become prohibited [even according to the reasoning offered for that

    leniency].Accordingly, in this case, it is difficult to rely on [any] tradition [to

    be lenient]…*

    * Indeed, this is how [Rabbonim] should rule, that it is not just Halachic

    strictness, and if a young man wishes to be scrupulous not to use any shaving

    machine, his parents should not object to this and say that [their son] is just

    trying to find [superfluous] Halachic stringencies.


    ?”? ???? ?? ????. ??”?, ??”? ?? “????: ??’ ?’ ??’ ?? ???”? ???? ???? ???

    after a haircut. Does the same apply if one shaves only his beard?

    (Responsa of Rav Kanievsky Shlita published in sefer Ishei Yisroel, pg. 717)

    that it is forbidden to cut the beard with a scissors or remove it with depilatory cream

    and certainly not with electric shavers (which are halachically equivalent to a razor).

    Rav Kanievsky cites the opinions of the Targum Yonoson, Sefer Hachinuch, Chofetz

    Chayim, Chazon Ish, his father the Steipler Gaon, etc. in support of this ruling.


    He [Rav Aharon Kotler] [may one use a shaving machine] [the prohibition]


    Will You Heed the Call of the Gedolim?

    AN URGENT PROCLAMATION from the Leading Sages of our generation

    THE SEVERE BREACH OF HALACHA INVOLVED IN THE USE OF SHAVING MACHINES is well known to all. Their use was prohibited by our Rabbis, the gedolim of the [previous] generation, including the Chafetz Chayim and the Chazon Ish. Moreover, this [prohibition applied] even to the shavers of many years ago [when the shavers were far more primitive and did not cut hair as close to the skin as modern shavers]. Today, the shavers have been enhanced [and cut much closer to the skin] and thus the halachic issues involved are far more severe. This was the halachic ruling of also our great teacher, [the Steipler Gaon, R. Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky] [as a razor], as is evident from Makkos 21a and Rambam, Hilchos Avodas Kochavim, ch. 12.

    IT IS THUS OBVIOUSLY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL THE ROSHEI YESHIVOS [heads of the yeshivos] to confront this issue and not allow shavers that leave the face smooth to be brought in [to the yeshivos]. This prohibition applies both to the one who shaves and the one who is shaven.

    IT IS A GREAT MITZVAH TO STUDY THE SEFER TIFERES ADAM, authored by the Chafetz Chayim, zatzal, that focuses on strengthening the observance of this prohibition and explains the reward received in both this world and the next for its practice.

    [signed by:]

    [wrote about this halachic principle] and it was thus obvious to him that [shaving machines]
    R. Yosef Shalom Eliashiv

    R. Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman. R. Shmuel HaLevi Wosner. R. Michal Yehudah Lefkovitz. R. Nissim Karelitz. R. Chayim Kanievsky.


    [1] just like a razor[2] and did not permit selling a shaving machine even to a Jew who shaves with a razor in order to save him from the prohibition of using a razor[3] [chemical][4].

    He wrote:[5] [removal of the beard with] depilatory cream… I find this matter very painful…I am accustomed to this being prohibited since the earlier generations, and [the prohibition] was very severe…[Jews] have learned it from the non-Jews during their exile…Although this sickness has spread even among the bnei Torah, the issue has not changed as a result of this, and therefore my soul boils [with rage]

    sources cited below in the following footnotes (2-3).

    colleague/disciple, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Vosner shlita, in his Teshuvos Shevet HaLevi

    p. 56) and numerous other sources cited in Hadras Ponim Zokon (pp. 349-350).

    see also Rav Chayim Kanievsky shlita in his sefer Orchos Yosher (p. 20), where he

    not permit selling one even to a Jew who shaves with a razor in order to save him

    from the prohibition of using a razor, but instructed [the inquirer) to sell it to a

    4 Rav Chayim Kanievsky shlita in his sefer Orchos Yosher (ibid.).

    Orchos Yosher (ibid.).


    Regarding the Cutting and Growth of the Beard

    by HaGaon Rabbi Chayim Kanievsky, shlita

    (Son of the Steipler Gaon)

    excerpted from his sefer Orchos Yosher (p.19):

    [With this our

    having this [a beard]
    is only in recent generations that some have started to treat this irreverently, having learned this from the non-Jews.

    quoted by the Chofetz Chayim in his Sefer Hamitzvos Hakotzer (Prohibitions 177).

    Our teacher the Chazon Ish was highly displeased with this practice. His displeasure was not only with

    permit selling one even to a Jew who shaves with a razor in order to save him from the prohibition of using a razor, but

    instructed [the inquirer] to sell it to a non-Jew.

    My father and teacher [Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky, the Steipler Gaon], of blessed memory, was also

    very strict about this, saying it is very likely that [a shaving machine] is considered literally a razor, so that

    one transgresses five prohibitions for using it.

    electric shaver, refer to Likkutei Halochos on tractate Makkos by the Chofetz Chayim, p.14b in Ein Mishpot there, where

    he writes that it is forbidden and that one should not be lenient in this. It is also known that the Chazon Ish, of blessed

    [In addition, the Chazon Ish] was highly displeased even with those who


    care not to cut the beard even with scissors, for the Kabbalists write that thereby one uproots the channels of [the flow of]

    Kedusha from Above. Our fathers and ancestors in our land were accustomed to observing this strictly. Especially today

    when many of the lawless elements of our nation have the practice of shaving with a razor, it is a great Mitzva for the

    whole Jewish people to reinforce this observance and not to trim the beard even with scissors, thereby showing everyone

    that the commandments the Torah has given us to distinguish the Jewish man [from the non-Jew] are precious to us and

    [depilatory cream]
    [poison] [lifegiving potion] either, and I find this matter very painful,

    for it is against the [Jewish] quality of modesty and is not the Jewish style of dress but [Jews] have learned it from the non-

    of those who remove their beards [with scissors] similar to [the effect of] a razor [close cutting], for I am accustomed to

    this being prohibited since the previous generations, and [the prohibition]

    this sickness has spread even among Torah scholars, may they be well, the issue has not changed as a result of this, and









    One who guards his beard is like one who guards

    the bris. To touch [i.e., trim the beard], even [only]

    One who destroys his beard .. He destroys his

    sustenance (Parnasa) … One who damages his

    beard indicates that he has blemished the holy bris

    (Divrei Shmuel, Slonim, Kedoshim).


    When the disease of cutting the beard spread among students of

    the [Litvishe] Yeshivos, the well-known Gaon, Rabbi Eliezer Gordon

    [Rov and Rosh Yeshiva of Telz], of blessed memory, adopted the

    most stringent measures [to stop it].

    When he saw that they persisted in their defiance, he mobilized

    [Rov of Pinsk-Karlin], the venerable Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Meisel

    [Rov of Lodz, Poland], and the mighty Gaonim Rabbi Chaim HaLevi

    [Soloveitchik, Rov of Brisk], and Rabbi Chaim Ozer [Grodzenski,

    Rov of Vilna]
    He demanded that they place a prohibition on Rabbonim

    against granting them [students who cut their beards] Rabbinic

    ordination [Semicha], on Shochtim against teaching them the skill

    of ritual slaughtering [Shechita], and on Jewish communities against

    employing them in any religious position.

    Kovetz Yagdil Torah 7:5


    Rav and Rosh Yeshiva of SLABODKA

    …Every Jew should think about this and have pity on his children only when they walk in the paths of Hashem, when they are similar in their appearance to their parents, keeping Shabbos and . But not to those who are not at all similar in their appearance to the Jewish people, for they have become distant and have garbed themselves in a different style, desecrating Shabbos and … Their appearance is not similar to the Jewish people, for they have removed from themselves the (Divine image).

    Levush Mordechai, Bava Kamma p.7


    [Epstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Slabodka-Chevron]
    Shaalos Uteshuvos P’as Sod’cha, section 101


    ??”? ??? ?’ ???? “?? ????? ??? ?????” ???? ???”?

    ?? ????? ??? ??? ????? ?????? ??????, ??? ?????? ???????

    ????? ????, ??? ???? ???? ??”?, ???? ????”? ??”?, ??? ?????

    ??????? ??????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ??????? ??????? ????,

    ??????? ???? ????. ??? ???? ??? ??? ????? ???? ??”? ????

    ????”? ?? ??”?, ??? ??? ????”? ???? ???? ??? ????? ????

    ???, ?? ????”? ?? ???? ??? ??? “?? ?????”, ??? ????? ???

    ?? ????? ???? ?????? ????? ??. ?????”? ??”? ????”?.

    ???? ?? ??????? ??????? ?????? ???’ ?? ???? ?????, ??

    ???? ????? “?? ????? ??? ????”. ?????? ??? ?? ?? ????

    ??????? ??????? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ?????? ?????

    ??????? ???? ??????, ??’ ????? ??’ ????? ?????, ????? ?????

    ????? ????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????”? “????? ???” ????? ??

    ????? ????? ????? ??, ??? ???? ??? ???? ??????? ??? ????.

    ???? ???’ ??????, ?.?.?. ??????, ????? ???? ?????

    ???? ????? ???????, ????? ?????, ???? ???????,


    ??”? ??? ?’ ???? “?? ????? ??? ?????” ???? ???”?

    ?? ????? ??? ??? ????? ?????? ??????, ??? ?????? ???????

    ????? ????, ??? ???? ???? ??”?, ???? ????”? ??”?, ??? ?????

    ??????? ??????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ??????? ??????? ????,

    ??????? ???? ????. ??? ???? ??? ??? ????? ???? ??”? ????

    ????”? ?? ??”?, ??? ??? ????”? ???? ???? ??? ????? ????

    ???, ?? ????”? ?? ???? ??? ??? “?? ?????”, ??? ????? ???

    ?? ????? ???? ?????? ????? ??. ?????”? ??”? ????”?.

    ???? ?? ??????? ??????? ?????? ???’ ?? ???? ?????, ??

    ???? ????? “?? ????? ??? ????”. ?????? ??? ?? ?? ????

    ??????? ??????? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ?????? ?????

    ??????? ???? ??????, ??’ ????? ??’ ????? ?????, ????? ?????

    ????? ????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????”? “????? ???” ????? ??

    ????? ????? ????? ??, ??? ???? ??? ???? ??????? ??? ????.

    ??? ???’ ?????? ?.?.?. ?????? ????? ???? ?????

    ???? ????? ??????? ????? ????? ???? ???????








    One who guards his beard is like one who guards his bris. To touch

    [i.e., trim the beard], even [only] with scissors, is forbidden.

    He would frequently say that a person who resolves to leave his beard

    intact will have half his sins forgiven….

    Once a young man came to him and told him that he wished to let his

    beard grow because he had heard about the promise that half his sins

    would be forgiven, but his wife was opposed.

    Baba Sali replied that he should tell his wife that half her sins will also

    be forgiven if she allows him to grow his beard

    (Meor Yisrael [biography of the Baba Sali], pp. 88-90).

    For a comprehensive treatment of this subject, see:

    Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon / by Rabbi Moshe Wiener / The Cutting and Growth of the Beard in Halachic Perspective /

    Published with the Endorsements of the Leading Halachic Authorities of our Times / 1024 pages (in expanded third edition)


    Daas Torah

    of the


    Jewish people to remain strong in

    observing this and

    not to trim the

    beard even with scissors

    “Kuntres Tiferes Odom, by the Chofetz Chayim (a work

    composed entirely to emphasize the necessity of

    [He did this]
    Kol Kisvei

    Chofetz Chayim)

    chapter 6).

    (Rav Chayim Kanievsky shlita in his sefer chapter 5,

    quoting the Chofetz Chayim)

    Kuntres Tiferes Odom

    Orchos Yosher

    even if one cuts the

    beard with scissors

    if someone has yiras shomayim

    shidduchim is

    whether he has a beard (Chofetz Chayim in Kuntres Tiferes Odom chapter 11).


    Daas Torah


    Shaving the Beard

    [chemical]4. He wrote:5

    [removal of the beard with] depilatory cream… I find this matter very painful…I am accustomed to this being prohibited since the earlier generations, and [the prohibition] was very severe…[Jews] have learned it from the non-Jews during their exile…Although this sickness has spread even among the bnei Torah, the issue has not changed as a result of this, and therefore my soul boils [with rage]
    tcafs kWmz aht iuzjv hrun sucfn h,gnaW 6Wthena ygnf – iez hkc hsuvh uhbpk

    For a comprehensive treatment of this subject, see:

    Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon / by Rabbi Moshe Wiener / The Cutting and Growth of the Beard in Halachic Perspective / Published with the Endorsements of the Leading Halachic Authorities of our Times / 1000 pages (in expanded third edition)

    4 Rav Chayim Kanievsky shlita in his sefer Orchos Yosher (ibid.).


    Daas Torah on the prohibition of shaving the beard

    with an electric shaver

    By the outstanding Posek of our generation the great gaon

    [Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach] wrote:

    [by publishing this sefer] you are accomplishing

    something good and beneficial. Perhaps through this [sefer] the issues will

    be elucidated and clarified, thereby saving [the Jewish public] from a





    To the questioner, may he be well:

    not be lenient in this matter.

    shaving machines is forbidden.

    This is my response,

    (Signed) Elozor Menachem M. Shach


    Shaving the Beard

    with Electric Shavers:



    To the distinguished and G-d fearing

    Rabbi, who brings merit to the Jewish

    public, Rabbi Moshe Wiener, Shlita

    I have received your letter, with the

    enclosed material documenting opinions

    of Halachic authorities on the question of

    whether one may use shaving machines

    on the beard. You request also my own


    As a matter of fact, the Chazon Ish, of

    blessed memory, ruled that such

    machines are prohibited. Who then, after

    his ruling, can dare to rule leniently on a

    Torah question that involves

    transgressing the Torah prohibition

    against shaving the beard for which both

    the one who shaves and the one who is

    shaved are equally liable, amounting to a

    total of ten sins (if one shaves oneself)?

    Rabbeinu Nissim of Gevona (the Ran)

    writes that a sin that incorporates several

    prohibitions is as severe as desecration of

    the Shabbos (which carries capital

    then, the consequences of violating ten

    prohibitions on a day to day basis! Who

    would want to place himself into such a


    Anyone aware of the severity of this

    transgression and its punishment will

    keep far away from these machines. I am

    sure that if we will explain the problems

    involved, and present the opinions of the

    outstanding authorities of our time who

    ruled that shaving machines are

    prohibited (including the saintly Chofetz

    Chaim, Chazon Ish, and Rabbi Aharon

    Kotler, of blessed memory), then anyone

    with the slightest degree of Yiras

    Shomayim will keep far away from these

    machines and totally avoid their use.

    There is nothing more for me to add. It

    is obvious that you, my dear most

    honored Rabbi, have been afforded the

    very great merit of publicizing the serious

    problems involved in this question. Even

    will help to improve the situation only

    partially, your reward will still be great.

    Happy is your lot that you are bringing

    merit to the Jewish public. May G-d grant

    that you will indeed bring merit to great

    numbers of Jews who will be saved from

    sin through your Sefer.

    May the Holy One, blessed be He,

    purify our hearts that we may be

    privileged to return to Him in complete

    repentance, which will bring about our

    speedy redemption for the sake of His

    Name. I await, with longing, divine

    salvation and divine mercies.

    Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch

    *The Magan Avrohom (Orach Chaim 328:9) and

    other Poskim (Mishna Berura Ibid. 39) cite this Ran

    and write that it is more severe than Chilul




    scissors prohibited




    (prince of the Torah, Torah

    leader of the Jewish people

    the bright luminary of the sun

    absolutely not even seen the Teshuva

    pride and saint of the Jewish people, leader of all Jews in the

    Diaspora grovel in the dust and beg for forgiveness

    give up his life

    [Mesiras Nefesh]


    , ,

    Gedolim [great Halachic authorities] and Poskim are of the opinion that

    [cutting the beard] with .. is .. The latest such authority (and most

    Deah, section 93), where he explains at length and with great profundity the

    of cutting the beard with scissors..

    Concerning those who write to dispute the position of the Tzemach

    Tzedek by maintaining that surely it was not meant as a ruling… what can I do if

    grandson and disciple of the holy Gaon, the Rav, author of

    …Moreover, in the actual subject itself, he [the disputant] is groping like a blind

    Tzedek… He has (Halachic responsum), section

    93 in the above-mentioned Tzemach Tzedek, which stretches over eight large folio pages

    it up there.

    …The last disputant, with his words against the Tzemach Tzedek by the holy Gaon

    G-d and the Gaon, the

    [The disputant] ought to

    and then, after doing all that, perhaps [he will be forgiven]…

    Let us conclude with historical accounts of the righteous that we have heard and

    know, that the holy Gaon, author of the Tzemach Tzedek, was ready to

    for this matter at the palace of Czar Nicholas I…


    Minchas Eluzar II, section 48


    Why Did the

    Litvishe Yeshiva Bochurim

    Start Shaving their Beards?

    The following response to this question was published in:

    Visions of the Rov

    Highlights from the Life and Times of Moreinu Hagaon Harav

    influences had infiltrated

    the Yeshivos of that time,

    making .. beardless faces the norm…*

    [young Rav Avrohom Kalmonowitz, who never

    shaved his beard] even earned the respect of his rebbeim,

    Roshei Yeshiva and friends for his strength of character and his

    * * *

    * Additional sources documenting why the Litvishe Yeshiva Bochurim started shaving their beards: In Kovetz



    accustomed to this being prohibited since the previous generations, and [the prohibition] was very

    severe…Although this sickness has spread even among Torah scholars , may they be well, the

    been a disgrace for anyone not to have a beard. It is only in recent generations that some have started to treat

    For similar statements (from our teacher the Chofetz Chaim and many other Gedolim) regarding the (non

    Yiras Shomayim) reasons shaving started in Litvishe and other circles, and for a comprehensive treatment

    concerning the growth and cutting of the beard in Halachic perspective, see sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon

    by Rabbi Moshe Wiener (1,000 pages in expanded third edition and published with the Haskamos of the

    greatest Gedolim of our times).

    Pashuteh Yid

    In the USA, we follow Reb Moshe who permitted shaving with a machine.

    At any rate, does anybody know of a good picture that shows exactly the 5 spots which are considered pe’as zekanecha according to the various rishonim? Maybe one of our ascii artists can draw one here.


    PY: Igros Moshe siman please, before your claim is accepted. Thx


    Pashuteh Yid:

    Interesting point. I have heard a rov (a well known Posek) who holds the Peya goes above the ear to the top point of the ear. Many people are not aware of this shita.

    Take a look at

    They have a diagram, as well as detailed halachic background.


    maxwell thats like a 6000 word post no way I can read that pare it down for brevity sake.

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