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Rabbi Mendy Turen was NOT the keynote speaker at the Kinus Hashluchim attended by 5,000 Chabad Rabbis/Shluchim.
Rather, he was the keynote speaker at the separate gathering of those Rabbis/Shluchim who share his philosophy. That gathering was held in a hall in Crown Heights with a maximum seating capacity of 650 and it was not full — perhaps there were 500 in attendance.
This is an important piece of fact that dispels the perception that “most” of Chabad shares Rabbi Turen’s philosophy. The official Kinus Hashluchim attracted 5,000. This fringe gathering attracted perhaps 500.
The point made by [Me using one of my other screennames] that this entire discussion regarding the practice of the Litvishe bochurim in pre-war Europe has no relevance nor is it comparable to the way most frum people shave today, namely, using an electric shaver, would benefit from some amplification.
Namely, we cannot bring any proof from the use of ANY shavers from decades ago.
Numerous of our most major poskim assert this concept. Some examples include:
* Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l wrote (in a teshuvah to his grandson, published in Emes l’Yaakov, Yoreh Deah section 181): “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].”
* Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv zt’l, wrote in a teshuvah published in his sefer Kovetz Teshuvos (vol. 1, sec. 32) that the electric shavers of today are unquestionably infinitely worse than those that existed in the time of the Chofetz Chaim (which were non-electric clippers) and were prohibited by him, because modern machines shave much more closely to the skin, and shaving with them is an “issur Torah mamosh” — a definite and absolute Torah prohibition, according to Rav Elyashiv.
• Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita wrote in the name of his father, the Steipler Gaon zt’l: “It has already been publicized that the Chofetz Chaim zt’l in Likkutei Halachos on Makkos prohibited even manual (non-electric) shaving machines; how much more so are today’s electric shavers forbidden since they are more advanced.”
• See also Shaalos u’Teshuvos Minchas Yitzchok (vol. 4, sec. 113, and again in vol. 7, sec. 63): “Electric shaving machines are much more severe [than the machines forbidden by the Chofetz Chaim], as is well known.”
• Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l, likewise considered today’s shavers incomparably more halachically severe than the machines forbidden by the Chofetz Chaim zt’l, as recorded in the sefer Halichos Shlomo (tefillah, 2:7, note 24).
• Similarly, the Debretziner Rov writes in Shaalos u’Teshuvos Be’er Moshe (vol. 7, Kuntres Electric 2:18) that today’s shaving machines are “one hundred percent more halachically severe than the machines referred to by the Chofetz Chaim.”
• See also the widely publicized Psak Din (dated Nissan 5768) signed by Rav Elyashiv zt’l, Rav Aharon L. Steinman zt’l, Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt’l, Rav Michel Y. Lefkowitz zt’l, Rav Nissim Karelitz shlita, Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, Rav Shmuel Auerbach zt’l, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt’l and 26 other litvishe Roshei Yeshiva) and quoted above by Wolfson at the beginning of this discussion:
“The severe breach of halachah 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 Chofetz Chaim 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, shavers have been enhanced [and cut much closer to the skin] and thus the halachic issues involved are far more severe.”
fixed that for you
To clarify the position of Rav Moshe Heinemann shlita regarding this issue:
In a Hebrew language letter dated 19 Menachem Av 5769 which was widely publicized at the time (and posted in many shuls and yeshivos), Rav Heinemann wrote that since there is a dispute between the poskim whether any shaving machines are permissible and those who prohibit their use consider them Osur Min HaTorah, therefore those who do not want to grow their beards should instead use a trimmer such as the Outliner which does not remove the hair entirely and leaves stubble. The letter is co-signed by the Roshei Yeshiva of BMG in Lakewood (Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rav Yeruchim Olshin, Rav Dovid Tzvi Shustal and Rav Yisroel Tzvi Newman) who add that regular shavers involved a “sefeika d’oraysa.”
It seems clear from this letter that Rav Heinemann does NOT take the position that, based on the Igros Moshe being Posek Hador, the opinions of the Poskim who prohibit shavers should be dismissed or discounted. On the contrary, he advises that l’maasah, practically speaking, one who wants to shave should instead use a trimming machine (and not a regular shaver).
In another Hebrew language letter dated Parshas Re’eh, 5736, Rav Heinemann confirms that “emes nachon hadavar” that his Rebbe Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l did not permit the use of shaving machines. Rav Heinemann added that Rav Aharon Kotler did not want to issue a heter even for the Outliner trimmer, out of deference for the Chofetz Chaim.