Does Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita prohibit men from shaving their beards?
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- This topic has 88 replies, 29 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 11 months ago by Avi K.
May 12, 2019 6:02 pm at 6:02 pm #1725809
Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita writes in Orchos Yosher (chapter 5): “Throughout our history, it has been a disgrace for anyone not to have a beard. It is only in recent generations that some have started to treat this irreverently, having learned this from the non-Jews.”
Does he write this as a posek stating a halacha or as a personal view?
Does he explicitly prohibit shaving or merely disapproves?May 12, 2019 9:32 pm at 9:32 pm #1725889iacisrmmaParticipant
Why dont you fly to EY and ask him yourself?May 12, 2019 9:33 pm at 9:33 pm #1725913
The Chofetz Chaim said the same thing.May 12, 2019 9:33 pm at 9:33 pm #1725910
If he is the posek ha’dor, are we bound to listen to him even when it is inconvenient (or only when we agree with the psak)?May 13, 2019 12:19 am at 12:19 am #1725989May 13, 2019 1:00 am at 1:00 am #1726001Rav TuvParticipant
Rabbi Moshe Sherer asked Rav Moshe Feinstein about shaving. Rav Moshe poskened he should shave because he would meet with politicians and dignitaries.May 13, 2019 7:30 am at 7:30 am #1726009
So he got a heter.May 13, 2019 7:35 am at 7:35 am #1726080yungerman123Participant
the Torah forbids shavingMay 13, 2019 7:36 am at 7:36 am #1726079adar29Participant
Some politicians nowadays have beards. Donald Trump junior was spring a bear weeks ago. The toeba polititian of Philly that was harassing teenagers for praying in front of a planned parent hood clinic has a beard. There should be no reason nowadays not to have one as it has become a custom among goyim to have it. Yes it’s a fad for them but why wouldn’t a yid have one unless he can’t grow it.May 13, 2019 8:30 am at 8:30 am #1726114
Where exactly does the ”Torah ” forbid shaving?May 13, 2019 8:44 am at 8:44 am #1726112
That wasn’t a halachic analysis article; it was sponsored content. I think it was sponsored by you-know-who.
The book is clearly self-published. With a little extra research… Stuff is starting to make sense around here.May 13, 2019 8:45 am at 8:45 am #1726093
yungerman123, How can you say that with a bearded face? It says in the mishna ואלו מגלחין במועד.May 13, 2019 8:50 am at 8:50 am #1726092shualiParticipant
Rav Chaim shlit”a cannot prohibit ANYTHING! He CAN pasken that something is a Torah prohibition or a Rabbinical one.
The Torah clearly prohibits shaving ones beard. The question is only if any particular device used to remove ones facial hair meets the criteria of that prohibition or not.May 13, 2019 10:03 am at 10:03 am #1726195
I don’t know how much I can say because of certain rules (which I understand and agree with).
But, if you did what it seems like you did, then bravo. Probably the most elaborate YWN trolling in all of history.May 13, 2019 10:03 am at 10:03 am #1726188
“Where exactly does the ”Torah ” forbid shaving?”
Wait, do you really not know? Because, if you’re shaving with a straight razor then you’re for sure over an issur d’oraysa. The implication here is that we’re talking about trimming and electric shaving.May 13, 2019 11:07 am at 11:07 am #1726016rationalParticipant
Rav Kaniefsky maintains that his views are halachah, that is obvious. However, he doesn’t pasken for the world, he paskens to the person or institutions (i.e., Degel Hatorah Knesset Members) who ask the question. When asked, he paskens.
If one decides to obey the Rav’s views without asking him for a personal psak, this is a very short list of some of the things he will do.
1. Stop using the internet
2. Stop using a smartphone
3. Stop shaving
4. Stop using electricity on shabbos in Israel, unless there is an independent generator providing power
5. Stop wearing short sleeved shirts
6. Stop reading any type of secular newspaper
7. Refrain from attaining any type of secular education
The conclusion is that there are many Torah observant Jews in America who would do well not to view the Rav as the world’s only acceptable Posek.May 13, 2019 11:07 am at 11:07 am #1726134
Shauli, speak clearly
The Torah clearly prohibits shaving WITH A RAZOR!!!!!!
anyone who is shaving with a razor is not involved in this conversation nor is the book for them.
So let’s not fudge things to prove a point.
There is no clear issur to have a hair free face
The question is is there a rabbinical issur
Or perhaps even a drasha that would make it min haTorah
Or is it only an Inyan , perhaps Al pi KaabaLA,
Or is it , gasp! Actually permitted.
But to say the Torah clearly dosages it is at best ignorant and at worst a new religionMay 13, 2019 11:07 am at 11:07 am #1726172MiriamsonParticipant
In the very next paragraph in Orchos Yosher chapter 5, Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes: “Targum Yonasan states that one who does this transgresses the prohibition of “A man shall not wear a woman’s dress,” which includes even cutting the beard using scissors. Sefer HaChinuch states the same, adding that one also transgresses the prohibition of “You shall not follow their [non-Jewish] rules.” This is quoted by the Chofetz Chaim in his Sefer HaMitzvos HaKotzer (Prohibition 177).” He continues to quote the Chofetz Chaim, Chazon Ish, his father the Steipler Gaon and Rav Shach who all ruled that all shaving machines are the halachic equivalent of a razor and therefore a shaver should not be given to a Jew who shaves with a razor to use instead of the razor. Regarding trimming, Rav Chaim Kanievsky quotes the Chofetz Chaim in Tiferes Odom chapter 1 who wrote: “It is a it is a great mitzvah for the entire Jewish people to reinforce this observance and refrain from trimming the beard even with scissors.”
By the way, the “self published” book advertised here includes the Hebrew essay it was based on with a facsimle of Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s hand-written endorsement in which he wrote “Yafa Kasavta” – “You have written well.”May 13, 2019 11:29 am at 11:29 am #1726256zahavasdadParticipant
Rav Chaim forbids wearing wristwatches because its Beggid IshaMay 13, 2019 11:30 am at 11:30 am #1726259midwesternerParticipant
Methinks that some on this site have reached the madreiga of lomed al menas lekanter.May 13, 2019 1:05 pm at 1:05 pm #1726304
What about the times have changed? In Rav Chaim’s time men were wearing pocket watches, but now men wear men’s wrist watches.May 13, 2019 1:06 pm at 1:06 pm #1726279avreichamshlomoParticipant
Yes midwesterner that is obvious.May 13, 2019 1:07 pm at 1:07 pm #1726270ZVIKAParticipant
laskern – mgalchin in the Mishnah as in the chumash does not refer to shaving beard it could refer to any haIr; as cutting hair of the head.May 13, 2019 1:51 pm at 1:51 pm #1726342
lift and cut is a problem, otherwise try not pressing it to the face for a discussion see
https://www.star-k.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/563/electric-shavers/May 13, 2019 1:51 pm at 1:51 pm #1726331
That is מספרין not מגלחין.May 13, 2019 1:52 pm at 1:52 pm #1726344shualiParticipant
As with any discussion, and especially one pertaining to halachah, clear definition of terms is required. This discussion adds the need for accurate and consistent translation of terms as well.
There is NO issur giluach on ones head. Peyos (edges/corners of ones head) may not be rounded even with a machine/trimmer which cuts in the manner of a scissors.
There IS an issur giluach on ones face (this week’s sedra, I believe). The Gemora learns out that this prohibition is only when done derech hashchasah (not a scissors).
The issue of shavers has always been (the Chofetz Chaim discusses this in his Likutei HALACHOS on Maseches Makos) are these machines acting as scissors or as razors.
How and when the definition of “beged ishah” changes requires a posek.
Inyonei kabbolah and midos chasidus cannot be ignored or dismissed as we learned last week Kedoshim Tihiyu is a mitzvah min haTorah.
Rav Chaim, as I posted earlier, does NOT prohibit shaving. He does paskin, I believe, that at least some of our “shavers” are razors al pi halachah and therefore prohibited min haTorah. He may also be saying we should be makpid on how we “dress (i.e. like traditional Jews who always had beards). He is certainly entitled to that opinion, and I would value it as it is certainly coming from having learned a few more blatt Gemora and from chazering Shulchan Aruch a few more times than we have.
No, he is NOT paskenning for the entire world, but we CAN’T either. Even for ourselves, it is advisable to ask for oneself.May 13, 2019 1:52 pm at 1:52 pm #1726339
Can someone just answer the following
The gemora krisus either 6b or 7b, according to the second pshat in rashi says that Aaron haCohen trimmed his beard
What do we do with that?May 13, 2019 2:33 pm at 2:33 pm #1726373
“The issue of shavers has always been (the Chofetz Chaim discusses this in his Likutei HALACHOS on Maseches Makos) are these machines acting as scissors or as razors.”
INCORRECT! The Chofetz Chayim writes explicitly in Tiferes Adam, perek alef that even using scissors is forbidden according to halacha because the Jewish people accepted upon themselves not to cut their beards in any way and this kabbala has the strength of a halachic prohibition.
As far as HaRav Chaim Kanievsky SHLITA”s opinions on shaving, here are exceprts of his:
The Gemora (Shabbos 152a) states: “Hadras Ponim — the splendor of the countenance — means a beard.” [With this our Sages ridiculed the Sadducee whose beard could not grow, saying to him “Blessed is the Omnipresent who has prevented you from having this [a beard]” (refer to the Gemora)]. Throughout our history, it has been a disgrace for anyone not to have a beard. It is only in recent generations that some have started to treat this irreverently, having learned this from the non-Jews.
Targum Yonoson states that one who does this transgresses the prohibition of “A man shall not wear
woman’s dress,” which means even if he cuts his beard using scissors. Sefer Hachinuch states the same,
adding that one transgresses also the prohibition of “You shall not follow their [non-Jewish] rules.” This is
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
the shaving machines used today, about which the Chofetz Chayim has already written — in Likkutei
Halochos, Makkos 21b, in Ein Mishpot 7 — that one transgresses the prohibition of “They shall not shave
the corner of their beard.” The Chazon Ish was very strict about shaving machines of all kinds, and did 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 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.
Our teacher, the Gaon Rabbi Elozor Menachem M. Shach, writes the same: “Regarding shaving the beard with an 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 memory, prohibited using any such machine.” [In addition, the Chazon Ish] was highly displeased even with those who shave using a depilatory cream — called in Hebrew “sam” [chemical].
The Chofetz Chayim wrote an entire work on this subject called Tiferes Odom, where he writes: “It is proper to take 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 that we are not ashamed of them, G-d forbid.”
In Kovetz Igros (volume I, #197) of our teacher, the Chazon Ish, he writes about the “sam” [depilatory cream]: “If it is not a “sam hamovess” [poison], it is not a “sam hachayim” [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 nonJews during their exile, thereby negating Kedusha.” In another letter (#198) he writes: “I have never accepted the behavior 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] was very severe — like walking in the street with one’s head uncovered — and was considered like changing one’s clothing from the Jewish style of dress. Although this sickness has spread even among Torah scholars, may they be well, the issue has not changed as a result of this, and therefore my soul burns with rage because of this practice.”
He [the Chazon Ish] once said that when someone who removes his beard..comes in to see him, he feels so sick that he almost vomits..
May Hashem Yisborach give us the privilege of observing the Jewish appearance according to the Torah’s requirements.May 13, 2019 2:33 pm at 2:33 pm #1726358The chasidParticipant
Does the Torah let for men to shave the the beard THAT’S THE WAY YOUR SUPPOSED TO ASKMay 13, 2019 2:38 pm at 2:38 pm #1726375
Neville ChaimBerlin – ” if you did what it seems like you did, then bravo. Probably the most elaborate YWN trolling in all of history.” Thank you for your complimentary words of encouragement. If you are envious, may it result in kinas sofrim tarbeh chochma.
The pritza (breach) of Torah values caused by shaving which was introduced to mainstream Jews less than 200 years ago, is a conduct which is enforced in many Litvish yeshivos on their bochurim (till they reach a “madreiga” of a “ben Torah” worthy of a beard), notwithstanding that the “hetter” for shaving is not universally accepted, adaraba, it is nearly universally prohibbited.
The matzav on shaving is a greater breach than the commonly accepted heicha kedusha (which the Bais Yosef writes is prohibitted) or eating before Teki’os on Rosh Hashana (which is a greater transgression than eating before Tefilah – a d’rabbonon).
While we uphold p’sokim of Rav Chaim shlita, it is only when we are comfortable with them. The second a psak rubs us the wrong way and doesn’t fit nicely into our accepted conduct, we choose to ignore such poskim and search out others that conform the halacha to our lifestyle.
Discussion is the point of the coffee room. I have thick skin, so I can deal with the name calling and banter. I don’t need to be mochel because it was never pogeah b’k’vodi.
There are Yidden that find heterim for everything, we label them MO because we consider ourselves on a higher madreiga, as Torah?Halacha true yidden. But in some areas, we mirror them. One such area is shaving..May 13, 2019 2:45 pm at 2:45 pm #1726394
1. Suddenly we pasken according to a second pshat in a Rashi? Is that your sefer halacha?
2. The beard of Aharon haKohen is referred to in Tehillim and other places. If there was any “trimming” it certainly wasn’t k’ein ta’ar (clean shaven like a razor shave).
3. The seforim address this, I am not your Cheder Morah.May 13, 2019 3:04 pm at 3:04 pm #1726409
RG, Respect people’s customs since they all have their gedolim like the Chasam Sofer to rely on and don’t be holier than thou.May 13, 2019 3:52 pm at 3:52 pm #1726422
laskern, do you follow ALL the psokim of the CHasam Sofer? If you do, then I respect you. If you shop around to collect kulos, then you are the definition of a “kal she’ b’kalim” as Reb Ahron Kotler ztzl defined it: One that collects kulas from each posek that offers a kulah. Yidden should have a shitah and follow it. Not hop around (like sukkah hopping) from posek to another.May 13, 2019 3:54 pm at 3:54 pm #1726445W3DCBParticipant
Cha’zaq u’Ba’ruch…Surely, one’s time could be better spent learning Torah rather than exalting oneself above others. Furthermore, this is not where someone should be asking she’ei’loth in ha’la’chah as each te’shu’vah must be “answered” to fit the circumstance of the sho’el. Pronouncements of such broad-spectrum given the complicated sugia involved are silly and unproductive and serve only to paint another pious Jew as being “goyish” or not Jewish enough by those who believe themselves to be more pious than others…as the sif’rei mu’sar describe how those who cut down others are looking to raise themselves above their fellow. I, for one work in medicine where a beard becomes a potential source of bacterial spread to my patients just as the wearing of ties or long sleeve shirts. Hopkins studies have demonstrated the presence of coliform bacteria in men’s beards resulting in se’qa’nah to my immunocompromised patients. No, to answer your questing. washing doesn’t help…The chutz’pah of one who would make such a pronouncement is unbelievable. However, we live in a time of great chutz’pah…Cha’zal warn that the times leading up to the coming of ma’shi’ach would be ma’lei with such behavior even among the mam’le’cheth ko’ha’nim, goy qa’dosh. We can do better.May 13, 2019 4:41 pm at 4:41 pm #1726472
When it comes to shaving, didn’t I bring a proof from the mishna paskened in SA 531?May 13, 2019 4:46 pm at 4:46 pm #1726473
BTW a priest is called galach because he shaves the middle of his head.May 13, 2019 4:55 pm at 4:55 pm #1726471iacisrmmaParticipant
While R’ Chaim may be recognized as the Gadol Hador I am not sure if he has the title of Poseik Hador as R’ Moshe Feinstein was recognized as such or R’ Shlomo Zalman or R’ Eliyashiv.May 13, 2019 4:57 pm at 4:57 pm #1726467
RG, do you follow the Beer Sheva by not wearing a wig outside and cover all your hair?May 13, 2019 4:58 pm at 4:58 pm #1726466ZVIKAParticipant
LASKERN – מספרין is not a word in Mishnah; there is no such a word in mishnayos or in tanach. מגלחין or גילוח is mentioned about forty times in mishnayos.May 13, 2019 4:59 pm at 4:59 pm #1726465
Pronouncements are made in Shulchan Oruch, as specifically choosing a chazzon WITH A BEARD (also see the tefilah of Hineni said by Chazon before mussaf on Yomim Noroim)
You might find such pronouncements in Shulchan Oruch (or the machzor) “silly and unproductive and serve only to paint another pious Jew as being “goyish” or not Jewish enough by those who believe themselves to be more pious than others”.
The Shulchan Oruch and Machzor was written well before “we live in a time of great chutz’pah”. I hope your chagrin with “The chutz’pah of one who would make such a pronouncement is unbelievable” is not directed at the Sh.A. or the holy Machzor. That would be real chutzpoah!May 13, 2019 6:18 pm at 6:18 pm #1726505
RG, even if a person not having a beard can also daven since it doesn’t say in SA O’CH 581 that he must have a beard. In HINENI the word ‘like’ is used to be seen as an older person who is personally having his own problems and concerned about his livelihood and family.May 13, 2019 6:19 pm at 6:19 pm #1726511
“While R’ Chaim may be recognized as the Gadol Hador I am not sure if he has the title of Poseik Hador as R’ Moshe Feinstein was recognized as such or R’ Shlomo Zalman or R’ Eliyashiv.”
Both Rabbi Shlomo Zalman and R’ Eliyashiv also prohibit shaving.May 13, 2019 8:09 pm at 8:09 pm #1726546
Before anyone gets accusatory, I did not intentionally use different titles to distinguish HaRav HaGaon R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and HaRav HaGaon R’ ElyashivMay 13, 2019 8:11 pm at 8:11 pm #1726532W3DCBParticipant
The idea is the goad me into confrontation? Sorry, no bite…my comments and the spirit in which they were expressed were clear. Go learn as shall I…Defend be’nei Torah from the onslaught of a secular Israel/tzi’yo’nim and other frei-Jews/e’rev rav who would be o’qeir To’rah completely, if hey could…Worry not if your fellow Be’neiTorah have beards or not…Much of me’so’rah to which we hold fast was upheld, preserved, and transmitted to this generation, i.e., Slabutka, etc., in which there were those who were without beards. Go learn and help other Be’nei Torah and try to be me’la’med ze’cho’yoth not pe’gam. We are attacked from all sides…we don’t need this from within…You could be passionate about so much more. Perhaps raising tze’da’qah for Be’nei Torah who are hungry tonite…May 13, 2019 8:54 pm at 8:54 pm #1726565
laskern – “even if a person not having a beard can also daven since it doesn’t say in SA O’CH 581 that he must have a beard” …Really? What can I say?!
Do you not consider the Mishna Brura “shulchan oruch”?
משנה ברורה סימן נג ס”ק כד
באקראי – כ”ז בשאר ימות השנה אבל בתעניות ובר”ה ויוה”כ אפילו באקראי אין מורידין למי שלא נתמלא זקנו וגם בזה אין
להקל אפילו ע”י מחילת הצבור
ביאור הלכה סימן נג סעיף ו ד”ה * יוכל לירד
כתב בפמ”ג סימן קל”ב דאפילו אם הוא אבל לא ירד לפני התיבה בקבע אם לא נתמלא זקנו וכו’ עיין שם ונ”ל דלענין תפלת
ערבית יש להקל אפילו בקבע דהא אין מחזירין התפלה רק שאומר קדיש וברכו וידוע דעת הרמב”ם שמחלק בין פריסת שמע
לירידה לפני התיבה כמו שכתב הלח”מ דלדעת הרמב”ם אין לחלק בין קבע לארעי רק כמו שכתבנו וכן כתב הפר”ח והפמ”ג וישועת
יעקב לדעת הרמב”ם ואח”כ מצאתי שכן ג”כ דעת בה”ג וגם מסתמא מוחלין הצבור להאבל ויש לצרף בזה ג”כ דעת הב”י והש”ג
שמקילין בזה כנ”ל.
Background of this halacha:
חולין כד, ב: תנו רבנן: נתמלא זקנו ראוי ליעשות שליח ציבור ולירד לפני התיבה
Rashi explains a shaliach tzibur is not merely to be chazon:
שליח ציבור לכל צרכיהם לתקוע שופר ולנדות ולמנות פרנס
The dispute in Rishonim is if one without a beard can occasionally be Shaliach Tzibur.
Tosfos and Rashba says on occasion, someone without a beard can be chazon, but not b’kviyus or on a Taanis.
The Ramban and Ran say that one without a beard cannot even temporarily be the chazon.
An avel without a beard – can he daven for the omud? See Biur Halacha above that we make a dispensation for him.May 13, 2019 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm #1726574
RG, sorry you don’t what you talking about as a woman. This is a clean way of saying that he is of age and ir does not mean a beard.May 13, 2019 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm #1726575haskafahParticipant
Only one mehalach makes sense
Whatever the reason is for bnei torah starting to shave and wear short do non of understand that if there was an issur min hatorah or drabbanim that gedolim of prewar Europe knew all shulchan auruch shas poskim puskim etc and im sure if there was an issur eithe dorisa or rabbanim they would have done something asapMay 13, 2019 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm #1726580
All this does not mean that he must have a beard, but be able to have a beard.May 13, 2019 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm #1726581
It does not say אם יש לו זקן indicating that he needs a beard to daven.May 13, 2019 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm #1726582
He can have a physical problem if he can’t have a beard so we don’t want him to be a shatz.
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