Miriamson

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  • in reply to: Star-K Article about Electric Shavers #1754383

    Miriamson
    Participant

    The position of HaGaon Rav Ovadia Yosef zt’l, author of the Yabia Omer, concerning shaving machines, evolved over the years.

    In a shiur delivered on Motzoei Shabbos Nasso 5768 (later published in Yom l’Yom issue 1002, dated 25 Cheshvan and in sefer Lo Sakifu, Holon, 5772, p. 217 and also in sefer HaNoy V’Hanetzach, Yerushalayim 5778, p. 156), Rav Ovadia Yosef stated categorically that all electric shavers are forbidden and involve a Torah prohibition:
    “הנוהגים לגלח את זקנם, יש להעיר להם שהתורה אמרה ולא תשחית פאת זקנך”. לא כתוב בתורה ‘בתער’, אלא כתוב ולא תשחית’, כל גילוח שיש בו השחתה הוא אסור. מכונות הגילוח החשמליות המצויות כיום הם משחיתים ממש, עוקרים את השיער משרשו, יש בהם ספק גדול מהתורה שכל אדם שהוא עושה כן, הוא עובר על הלאו של ‘לא תשחית פאת זקנך’, לכן אני מייעץ להם שאל ישיחתו לגמרי את הזקן, לא ישתמשו במכונה חשמלית של גילוח אלא ישתמשו בכל דבר שישאיר מעט שיער, למשל מספרים שלא כעין תער, ואם יעשו כן תבוא עליהם ברכה, זוהי מצוה גדולה. אני רוצה להציג את זה מפני שיש אנשים הרבה לא יודעים, ‘כי לכל העם בשגגה’, משתמשים במכונות גילוח שהיא חשמלית והיא עוקרת ממש את השיער, זה כמו תער, וכבר עמדו על זה גאוני דורנו, ולא מצאו מנוח לדבר הזה, כל אחד ואחד המתגלח, יעשה כל מה שיכול לעשות שישאיר מעט עיקרי השיער, שלא יחתוך כל השיער כי זה אסור, לאו מן התורה, חמשה לאוין, על כל פאה ופאה חייב לאו אחד, לכן כל אחד ואחד עליו להיזהר מזה, ולשומעים ונעם ועליהם תבוא ברכת טוב”.

    Rav Ovadia Yosef’s son, the current Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Rav Yitzchok Yosef (author of the popular halachah sefarim Yalkut Yosef), published a widely disseminated kriah kedoshah (reproduced in the sefer Lo Sakifu, Holon, 5772, p. 217) quoting his father as maintaining that no Jew should use shaving machines and promising good shidduchim to those who grow their beards.
    “ראוי ונכון מאד לכל איש מישראל, ובפרט בני הישיבות היקרים שלא לגלח הזקן במכונות גילוח המצויות כיום… ההיתר הנז’ הוא קלוש מאד, וקשה לסמוך עליו בשופי, ולכן יש להשתדל במאד לא לסמוך על התרים… ולכן חובה קדושה על כל אחד להיזהר בדבר ולחוש לאיסור תורה, ולנהוג כנזכר ומה’ ישאו ברכה… .וזכורני בימי צעירותינו, עד כמה מרן אאמו”ר הי’ מזהיר . . להשאיר את הזקן ולסדרו, והבטיח ברכה לבני הישיבות שלא יגלחו את זקנם שיזכו לזיווג הגון לשם שמים לעבודתו יתברך”.

    In the 6/21/04 issue of the Hebrew periodicals Yahadus and HaTenuah, it was reported that Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef had revised his position regarding shaving machines and prohibited all of them. In response, an official from the Shas party who did not yet have a beard declared that he would now grow one to comply with Maran Rav Yosef’s ruling.

    In addition, Maran Rav Yosef’s grandson, Rav Ovadia Yosef Tolidano (author of the responsa Meishiv Mishpat), wrote a teshuvah explaining that according to his grandfather, heterim to use shaving machines should no longer be relied upon.

    in reply to: Star-K Article about Electric Shavers #1752595

    Miriamson
    Participant

    In response to those concerned with the fact that talmidim in the Litvishe Yeshivos in Europe shaved:

    1) Electric shavers were first introduced in the 1930s and did not reach Europe immediately (and many Yeshivos did not have adequate access to electricity). Most of those who shaved used depilitory cream (“Sam”), not electric shavers. Consequently, the issue of the shaving practices in the Litvishe Yeshivos in pre-war Europe is totally irrelevant to this discussion (and how most people shave today), which is focused on the halachic status of electric shavers.

    2) In his Kovetz Igros (#198), the Chazon Ish already responded to this very argument and wrote: “And although this sickness has spread even among those who are part of the Torah world, may they live and be well, that does not change the matter in any way, and therefore my soul burns with rage regarding this.”

    3) The following response by Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt’l to the “argument” that the students of the Litvishe Yeshivos of yesteryear used to shave their beards, was recently publicized (in a kuntres with a haskama from Rav Chaim Kanievsky):
    ואומר רבינו: “כי מה שנהגו פעם בישיבות לגלח, כי לא היה ידוע האיסור” (פרי חיים ממרן הרב שטיינמן שליט”א, שופר ארגון להפצת יהדות, צוות שופר גנזי המלך, כו תמוז תשע”ב).
    “The reason it was once common for yeshiva bochurim to shave is because the issur involved was not widely known.”

    4) How did the Chofetz Chaim react when the talmidim started shaving?
    When bachurim in Radin shaved their beards in later years, it was absolutely without the consent and contrary to the position of the Chofetz Chaim, as his son wrote in his biography of the Chofetz Chaim (published in Kol Kisvei Chofetz Chaim):
    “Year after year my father admonished [people] regarding shaving the beard, both orally, in writing and in his publications, but hardly anyone listened to him.”
    In fact, the Chofetz Chaim wrote an entire sefer called “Kuntres Tiferes Odom” in which he vigorously refuted all the justifications used for shaving (e.g., to help find a shidduch, to help find a job, to improve one’s appearance, and so on), and he sharply declared (as well as providing a thorough explanation) that these justifications were against the Torah.

    5) When the bochurim in Slabodka started shaving, the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein zt’l (author of the Levush Mordechai), wanted them to keep their beards, but the bochurim did not listen to him (as recorded in Shaalos U’Teshuvos Pe’as Sodcha, sec. 101). Furthermore, the Slabodka Rosh Yeshiva wrote very sharply in his introduction to Levush Mordechai (on Bava Kamma):
    “Every Jew should reflect on this [that a raven forsakes its children since they do not appear like it] and have mercy on his children only when they walk in the paths of Hashem, through which they are similar in their appearance to their parents, keeping Shabbos and growing a beard. However, [he should] not [display mercy] 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 disdaining the sacred…. Their appearance is not similar to the Jewish people, for they have removed the tzelem Elokim [Divine image, a reference to the beard] from themselves.”
    Regarding the Telz (Telshe) Yeshiva, it is recorded that
    “…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 the Geonim of that time — the venerable Rabbi Y. Dovid Friedman [Rov of Pinsk-Karlin], the venerable Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Meisel [Rov of Lodz, Poland], and the mighty Geonim Rabbi Chaim HaLevi [Soloveitchik, Rov of Brisk], and Rabbi Chaim Ozer [Grodzenski, Rov of Vilna], of blessed memory. He demanded that they place a prohibition on Rabbonim against granting [students who cut their beards] Rabbinic ordination [semichah], on Shochtim against teaching them the skill of ritual slaughtering [shechitah], and on Jewish communities against employing them in any religious position” (Kovetz Yagdil Torah 7:5).

    6) WHY did the talmidim in the Litvishe Yeshivos of pre-war Europe start shaving their beards — for reasons of Yiras Shomayim we should learn from, or just the opposite? See “Visions of the Rov: Highlights from the Life and Times of Moreinu Hagaon Harav Rav Avrohom Kalmanowitz zt’l” (published by the Mirrer Yeshiva), where we find (ch. 1, p. 28) Rav Kalmanowitz’s testimony in this matter. Rav Kalmanowitz is quoted there as saying that the reason the bochurim in Slabodka removed their beards was (not for reasons of yiras Shomayim that should be emulated, but just the opposite:) because “Western influences had infiltrated the Yeshivos of that time, making…beardless faces the norm.” Rav Kalmanowitz therefore refused to shave, and the Roshei Yeshiva and his friends respected him for it.
    Similarly, Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita attests in his sefer Orchos Yosher (ch. 5), recently published in English by Artscroll:
    “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…”
    Similarly, the Chazon Ish zt’l wrote in Kovetz Igros (vol. 1, #197) [regarding sam, depilatory cream]: “If it is not a sam hamoves [poison], it is certainly not a sam hachayim [lifegiving potion]. This matter is very difficult for me to bear, for it runs contrary to the [Jewish] quality of modesty and it is not the Jewish style of dress. Instead, [the Jews] have learned it from the non-Jews during their exile, thereby negating holiness.”
    Rav Chaim Kanievsky wrote further in his sefer Orchos Yosher (ibid.): “[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.”

    7) Was the “mesorah” of the Litvishe communities is to be beardless? In contrast to this assertion, the Chofetz Chaim zt’l attests (in his Kuntres Tiferes Odom, ch. 1) that (in his home country of Lita) only “one in a thousand” did not have a beard.
    Similarly, Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l stated (as quoted in the second volume of the sefer Aish HaTorah [p. 265], an authoritative biography of Rav Aharon Kotler [authored by Rav Aharon Sorosky shlita, acclaimed biographer of many Gedolim]):
    “Growing a beard is a malbush yehudi, the traditional appearance of a Jew and the way our fathers and forefathers all conducted themselves. Hence, the beard falls under the halachic mandate to uphold the traditional practices of our people (“Do not abandon the Torah of your mother” [see Pesachim 50b]).”

    8) This reality regarding the Chofetz Chaim’s vehement objection to shaving is documented further in the testimony of the Chofetz Chaim’s grandson, Rav Gershon Zaks zt’l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Suffern, New York. This testimony is cited by HaGaon Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita, in Teshuvos V’Hanhagos, Vol. 5, Section 264, and is quoted verbatim in Hadras Ponim Zokon, p. 18:
    “I heard the following story in this regard from my revered father, the gaon, R. Menachem Yosef Zaks, son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim and the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, Radin, which shows the extent the matter caused anguish to the Chofetz Chaim, zt’l.
    “In the latter years of the Chofetz Chaim’s life, his hearing was severely compromised. Therefore, his practice was to stand next to the reader’s platform in order to fulfill his obligation to hear the Torah reading. Nevertheless, on several occasions, he suddenly moved away from the platform in the midst of the Torah reading.
    “When my revered father asked him the reason for his conduct, the Chofetz Chaim answered that he cannot bear the fact that an aliyah is being given to a person who does not have a beard. Therefore he refrains from hearing the Torah reading, because of his anguish.
    “From that time on, my father, zt”l, and my uncle, zt”l, ordained that on the days when the Chofetz Chaim would come to hear the reading of the Torah, an aliyah would not be given to a person who cut his beard.”

    9) Rav Naftoli Trop zt’l served as the Rosh Yeshiva of the Chofetz Chaim’s Yeshiva in Radin from 1903 until his passing in 1928. In the introduction to Chidushei HaGranat published in more recent editions, we find the following account (p. 8, note 21): “The Yeshiva in Radin was founded by the Chofetz Chaim… Most of the students in Radin (and similarly those of Navardok) did not shave their beards due to the objection of the Chofetz Chaim to this practice.” If bachurim in Radin shaved their beards in later years, it was absolutely without the consent and contrary to the position of the Chofetz Chaim, as attested to earlier by the Chofetz Chaim’s son and son-in-law.

    in reply to: Star-K Article about Electric Shavers #1750286

    Miriamson
    Participant

    To respond to the point raised by DaasYochid:

    Perhaps it is those who publicize the heter of the Igros Moshe (and not those who are concerned that the opposing opinions are omitted) are the ones who are disrespecting him.

    See Meged Givos Olam (vol. 1, p. 96) where Rav Shurkin writes that he heard that the reason why Rav Moshe zt’l did not want to write this teshuvah permitting shaving machines in Igros Moshe is because while (according to the Igros Moshe) it is technically permitted to shave, the tzurah of a Yid is with a beard. Rav Belsky zt’l stated the same.

    If Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l did not publish his opinion regarding this matter for this reason (because the proper appearance of a Jew is with a beard, and publication of such a heter would encourage people to shave), then why do people who respect Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l publicize what Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l deliberately did not want publicized?

    Moreover, if Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l is of the opinion that “the tzurah of a Yid is with a beard” (to the extent that he would not write a teshuvah stating that shaving is technically permitted, out of concern that it would embolden people to remove their beards), why don’t these forums (which purport to represent Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l’s position) advocate that listeners grow their beards, in accordance with Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l’s viewpoint?

    This attestation why Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l did not publish his heter regarding shaving machines is also recorded in the popular publication Daf Yomi Digest, a daily resource for thousands of Daf Yomi learners worldwide, compiled by the Ruben Shas Kollel and published by Chicago Center for Torah & Chesed, under the leadership of HaRav Yehoshua Eichenstein shlita and HaRav Pinchas Eichenstein shlita, Rosh Kollel.
    In their issue on Nazir daf 40, the following is documented as clarification of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l’s position:
    “It is well known that Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, did permit the use of certain electric shavers. Someone once approached him and asked why he didn’t write a teshuvah outlining the parameters of which shavers are permitted and which are not. ‘After all, your teshuvos cover every subject under the sun!’ Rav Moshe explained, ‘Although I permit this practice halachically, I don’t want to write a teshuvah formally permitting this since the proper way is for a Jew to have a beard. Although this is not halachically prohibited, a Jew ought to grow a beard!’”

    in reply to: Star-K Article about Electric Shavers #1750282

    Miriamson
    Participant

    To expand on the point raised by Joseph:

    Those who adopt the leniencies of the Igros Moshe often do so without halachic sanction.

    Rav Yisroel Salanter zt’l wrote (in the introduction to the sefer Ohr HaYom) that one cannot accept the leniencies of even the greatest Gadol b’Yisroel UNLESS one also accepts his stringencies (he wrote this even regarding a Gadol of the stature of the Vilna Gaon zt’l, who certainly was considered Gadol Hador and Posek Hador).

    The Igros Moshe himself advanced a similar concept in O.C. 2:60, where he posits that one may conduct oneself according to the Vilna Gaon in cases where he is a minority opinion ONLY if one adheres to all of the Vilna Gaon’s halachic rulings, both stringent and lenient.

    DO ALL THOSE WHO SHAVE THEIR BEARDS, RELYING ON RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN ZT’L’S REPORTED HETER [which Rav Moshe Feinstein never recorded in any of his sefarim] (where he is clearly a minority opinion disputed by the great Poskim of the previous and current generations), ALSO FOLLOW ALL OF RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN ZT’L’S NUMEROUS CHUMROS (STRINGENCIES)?

    Examples include:
     Using a Shabbos clock (the Igros Moshe [O.C. 4:60] rules that one may not set a timer before Shabbos in order to cause a melachah to be performed on Shabbos).

     Listening to music (the Igros Moshe [O.C. 1:166; Y.D. 1:173; Y.D. 2:111 and 142] concludes that all instrumental music is forbidden, and that a ba’al nefesh should avoid listening to any form of singing).

     Carrying on Shabbos in communities in large metropolitan areas where eiruvin have been established (the Igros Moshe disputes the validity of eiruvin in neighborhoods such as Williamsburg [O.C. 1:138 and 140; Y.D. 3:161], Manhattan [O.C. 1:139; O.C. 4:89; Y.D. 3:161], Flatbush [O.C. 4:87-88; O.C. 5:28-29; Y.D. 3:161], Borough Park [O.C. 5:28-29 and 89; Y.D. 3:161] and Detroit [O.C. 5:29]).

     Wearing a tallis katan made out of a material other than wool (the Igros Moshe [O.C. 1:2; 2:1; 3:1; 3:52] advocates wearing a woolen tallis katan, and states that he himself did so even in the heat of summer. According to Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:1, wearing a talis koton made of synthetic fabric would present the following problems: 1) non-fulfillment of the mitzvah, 2) uttering a blessing in vain, 3) carrying on Shabbos).

     Eating veal (the Igros Moshe [EH 4:92:2] rules that a ba’al nefesh should refrain from consuming veal).

     Shaking hands with a woman (Igros Moshe O.C. I:113 and EH 4:32:9 state that shaking hands with a woman “is clearly forbidden;” “is certainly clearly forbidden.” See also EH 1:56 where the conclusion is that practically speaking it is difficult to rely on any leniency).

     Attending sports stadiums and theaters (Igros Moshe Y.D. 4:11:1 rules that going to sports stadiums and theaters is forbidden due to the prohibitions of Moshav Leitzim, Bitul Torah and promiscuity [but not due to Chukos Goyim]).

    (There are additional examples as well.)

    in reply to: Star-K Article about Electric Shavers #1749948

    Miriamson
    Participant

    In response to the concerns articulated by Benephraim and DrYidd as to why all the Gedolim did not accept the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l concerning this issue, see the most recently published volume of responsa Shevet HaLevi (vol. 11, Y.D. section 198), by Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt’l (referred to by many as the Posek Hador) where he testified that “With regard to shaving machines…it was agreed by all the Geonim…that there is no difference between [using] them and [using] a razor… The Gaon R. Moshe Feinstein sought to make a distinction between today’s [shaving machines] and a razor and advanced a theory [in justification]…. That theory is not correct and has not been accepted (אינה נכונה ולא נתקבלה aynah nechonah v’lo niskablah).” [It is important to add that Rav Wosner personally discussed the halachah of shaving machines with Rav Moshe Feinstein during a face-to-face meeting between these two Gedolim which took place in 1978, during a visit by Rav Wosner to New York (on behalf of Vaad Mishmeres Stam). For further reflections by Rav Wosner regarding this visit with Rav Moshe Feinstein and their exchange regarding shaving machines, see Rav Wosner’s revealing letter dated 9 Nissan, 5738, published in Hadras Ponim Zokon (third ed., miluyim to Section 2 ch. 1, p. 729).]

    Similar sentiments were expressed by as great and as universally accept a Posek as Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l. In the 5778 issue of Agudas Yisroel of America’s Am HaTorah journal (5:9), Rav Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Rov in Gateshead and author of responsa Machzeh Eliyahu and many other halachic works) testified that he personally heard from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l how he rejected the reported reasoning of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l to be lenient regarding electric shavers.

    Indeed, many Poskim wrote clearly that one may not rely on the Igros Moshe regarding shaving machines. The Poskim include the Steipler Gaon in Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 1, Hosafos Chadashos p. 38.; Rav Elyashiv; the Debretziner Rov, author of Shaalos u’Teshuvos Be’er Moshe, in his letter published in Hadras Ponim Zokon p. 22 (where he writes that he does not believe Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l ever issued such a heter); and Rav Moshe Sternbuch (in Teshuvos v’Hanhagos, vol. 5, section 264) and others.

    For additional reasons why the Igros Moshe’s position regarding shaving machines was not accepted by the Gedolei HaDor (including a responsa with the Haskama of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita), see the recently published work Authoritative Responses to Common Misconceptions, chapter 12 (which is available through Amazon and can be viewed at no cost in the publications section of the koshershaver.info website).

    in reply to: Star-K Article about Electric Shavers #1749493

    Miriamson
    Participant

    There are those who argue that only the Gedolim of Eretz Yisroel prohibit shaving machines, but not the Gedolim of America.

    1) This assertion is disputed and refuted by what was written by a Gadol Hador in America, the contemporary of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l, namely, Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l (who was certainly familiar with Rav Moshe Feinstein’s position regarding shaving with electric shavers). In his sefer Emes l’Yaakov on Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 181), Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l wrote (to his grandson) that there is no mesorah from the Rabbonim in America that can be relied upon to permit the use of electric shavers. To quote Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l:
    “Regarding [the prohibition of using] machines to shave [the beard], this is not just a chumra [halachic strictness] but a substantive [halachic] issue…. 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…. It is difficult to rely upon [any] tradition (mesorah) [to be lenient].”

    As is well known, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l greatly respected the halachic decisions of Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l.

    Furthermore, in a letter dated 6 Shevat 5774, Rav Yaakov’s recently deceased son, Rav Noson Kamenetzky, wrote to Rav Hillel Dovid Litwack of Flatbush (author of many sefarim): “I hereby attest that my father [Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky] never, ever permitted shaving machines.”

    2) Furthermore, regarding the aforementioned American mesorah, the other Gadol in America (of similar stature to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l and Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l) was Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l. According to the testimony of Rav Aharon Kotler’s zt’l major talmidim (such as Rav Moshe Heinemann, Rav Eliya Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Yechiel Perr, and others in letters published in the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon Section 2, ch. 1), Rav Aharon Kotler ruled that electric shavers are absolutely prohibited. In fact, Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l told Rav Menachem Perr zt’l that he may not give electric shavers to his non-religious congregants to use instead of razors (see the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon Section 2, ch. 1. This is also related in a letter written by his son, Rav Yechiel Perr shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Derech Ayson in Far Rockaway, printed in the miluyim to the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon).

    Additionally, Rav Aharon Kotler’s zt’l grandson, Rav Malkiel Kotler shlita, along with the other Roshei Yeshiva of Lakewood, wrote a public letter (which was posted on the Beth Medrash Gavoha bulletin board) attesting that Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l considered electric shavers to be prohibited.

    [For additional documentation regarding Rav Aharon Kotler’s zt’l position regarding shaving, see other examples where Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l disputed Halachic positions of the Igros Moshe in footnote # 1 in the following link:     sorry, no links

    3) The “first American Gadol,” Rav Gedaliah Schorr zt’l, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaas [this expression calling Rav Schorr the “first American Gadol” was coined by Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l], prohibited shaving machines (although he was certainly aware of the Igros Moshe’s opinion regarding this issue).
    In his haskamah to the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, Rav Gedaliah Schorr called the sefer a “chibur nifla” and “sefer yakar.” He continued to write that the Gedolim of both previous generations and our generation were concerned that the use of shaving machines involves a Torah prohibition, and that all b’nei Torah should learn the sefer so they will avoid a severe Torah prohibition.

    4) Another American Gadol, Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt’l (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin), attested that Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski zt’l (Rov of Vilna, author of Achiezer and Posek Hador of his generation) considered the shaving machines of his time to constitute a “sofek issur d’oraysa” [when there is a doubt about a fact where a Torah prohibition applies, halacha requires that the strict position regarding the rule be taken] (quoted in Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, miluyim to Section 2 ch. 1, p. 715; see there for corroborating testimony from Rav Chaim Ozer’s personal barber), as discussed above in chapter 3 of this work.
    Similarly, Rav Avrohom Asher Zimmerman zt’l (who served as a Rov in Borough Park and was a prominent Posek in the Yeshiva world) testified in a letter (published in Hadras Ponim Zokon, third ed., miluyim to Section 2 ch. 1, p. 717) that when he was in Vilna in 1935-1936, he showed a Schick Shaver to Rav Chaim Ozer on behalf of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, and Rav Chaim Ozer would not permit it.

    Regarding rumors that Rav Chaim Ozer zt’l permitted the use of shavers, see Halichos Shlomo (tefilah, 2:7, note 24) where Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l ruled that one cannot rely on that rumor, as well as on any heter granted by any Rov for any shaving machine of past generations, since those machines did not cut the facial hair as close to the skin and did not produce as clean of a shave as contemporary shavers do (as already discussed above, chapter 4).

    See further in Halichos Shlomo (ibid.) where a letter from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l to the author of the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon is quoted, stating: “In my humble opinion, by publishing this sefer you are accomplishing something positive and beneficial. Perhaps through this sefer the issues will be elucidated and clarified, thereby saving the Jewish public from a severe transgression.”

    5) See the sefer Edus l’Yisroel p. 145, where Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin zt’l (referred to by Rav Elyashiv zt’l as the “Mara d’Asra of America” — see Yeshurun vol. 20, pp. 153f) wrote that although many people rely on halachic leniencies (heterim) to shave, there are great Rishonim and Acharonim who vehemently disagreed and prohibited removing the beard (even) with scissors or depilatory cream (sam). “

    Rav Henkin then adds that even if a leniency can be found for removing the beard on halachic grounds, to do so violates the Will of Hashem, who ordained the mitzvah of growing the beard to distinguish Jews from non-Jews. Using any means to shave the beard gives one the appearance of a non-Jew and defeats the Torah’s reason for this mitzvah. Although the reasons for mitzvos are not halachically obligating, Rav Henkin continues, it is not the ratzon hatorah (the will of Hashem in His Torah) to contravene the Divine reason for mitzvos. “) אין זה רצון התורה אם הוא עובר על הטעם(”

    Hence, Rav Henkin states, any leniencies regarding shaving are meant only for extraordinarily harsh circumstances (shaas hadchack) and are not for everyone to rely upon under normal circumstances. ” והדין שהוא בניגוד להטעם ” הוא רק פתח הצלה בשעת הדחק [This is especially so nowadays, when it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace against a Jew who grows a beard.]

    Rav Henkin concludes that for b’nei Torah, and especially for Rabbonim, any heterim to shave with a scissors-like device or to remove the beard with a depilitory cream are certainly not adequate. “) לבני התורה ובפרט לרבנים אין היתר זה מספיק(”

    Rav Henkin goes on to provide additional halachic reasons why the beard should not be removed with shaving machines or depilatory cream: Additionally, the peyos and beard serve as a shield to protect us from associating with evil company, because “the cursed does not cleave to the blessed” — namely, to someone with the appearance of a Jew. Chazal have already stated, “Create a fence to safeguard the Torah.” Furthermore, many unlawful people shave with razors and say they used powder. Many simple people don’t understand the difference between them, and once permission has been granted to shave with powder, they do not differentiate [and shave with razors].

    in reply to: Star-K Article about Electric Shavers #1749701

    Miriamson
    Participant

    In response to Just Another Yid who asked “Is there a source for the Psak Din, following are some sources:

    See Shaalos u’Teshuvos Minchas Yitzchok (vol. 4, section 113) where the Minchas Yitzchok, one of the greatest Poskim of our times, wrote: “I searched the works of the great Acharonim in the hope of finding a halachic basis to defend the practice of allowing [the use of electric shavers], but not only did I not find a source to be lenient, on the contrary — I found that they all agree to be stringent [and prohibit shaving machines].”

    Rav Elyashiv zt’l wrote in a teshuvah published in his sefer Kovetz Teshuvos (vol. 1, section 32) that the electric shavers of today are unquestionably infinitely Halachicly worse than those that existed in the time of the Chofetz Chaim 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 (and not just a “sofek issur d’oraysa”).

    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.”

    Rav Shach zt’l wrote (Michtavim U’Maamarim 3:75): “To the questioner, may he be well: Concerning shaving the beard with electric shaving machines — see the sefer Likkutei Halachos on tractate Makkos (by the Chofetz Chaim), p. 14b (Ein Mishpat op. cit.), where he writes that it is prohibited, and one may not be lenient in this matter. It is also well-known that the Chazon Ish zt’l ruled that the use of all shaving machines is forbidden. This is my response, (signed) Elazar Menachem M. Shach.”

    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.”

    In the most recently published volume of responsa Shevet HaLevi (vol. 11, Y.D. section 198), Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt’l wrote: “With regard to shaving machines…it was agreed by ALL the Geonim…that there is no difference between [using] them and [using] a razor… The Gaon R. Moshe Feinstein sought to make a distinction between today’s [shaving machines] and a razor and advanced a theory [in justification]…. That theory is not correct and has not been accepted ( אינה נכונה ולא נתקבלה aynah nechonah v’lo niskablah).”

    Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l (who was certainly familiar with Rav Moshe Feinstein’s position regarding shaving with electric shavers), in his sefer Emes l’Yaakov on Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 181), Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l wrote (to his grandson) that there is no mesorah from the Rabbonim in America that can be relied upon to permit the use of electric shavers. To quote Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l: “Regarding [the prohibition of using] machines to shave [the beard], this is not just a chumra [halachic strictness] but a substantive [halachic] issue…. 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…. It is difficult to rely upon [any] tradition (mesorah) [to be lenient].”

    See Halichos Shlomo (tefilah, 2:7, note 24) where Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l ruled that one cannot rely on any heter granted by any Rov for any shaving machine of past generations, since those machines did not cut the facial hair as close to the skin and did not produce as clean of a shave as contemporary shavers do. See further in Halichos Shlomo (ibid.) where a letter from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l to the author of the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon is quoted, stating: “In my humble opinion, by publishing this sefer you are accomplishing something positive and beneficial. Perhaps through this sefer the issues will be elucidated and clarified, thereby saving the Jewish public from a severe transgression.”


    Miriamson
    Participant

    To further clarify the position of the Chofetz Chaim zt’l on this issue and whether he approved of talmidim in litvishe yeshivos being beardless, it is worth reviewing the testimony of the Chofetz Chaim’s grandson, Rav Gershon Zaks zt’l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Suffern, New York. This testimony is cited by HaGaon Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita, in Teshuvos V’Hanhagos, Vol. 5, Section 264, and is quoted verbatim in Hadras Ponim Zokon, p. 18 and was recently cited by Rav Chaim Kanievsky in a letter issued by his son in law, Rav Yitzchok Kolodetsky dated 9 Nissan, 5777:

    “The approach of my grandfather, the Chofetz Chaim zt’l, was that everyone should grow his beard, as explained at length in Kuntres Tiferes Odom at the conclusion of his text Nidchei Yisrael. In particular, that tzaddik [the Chofetz Chaim zt’l] suffered great pain and felt great anguish because of those who used shavers.

    This refers even to shavers that operate by hand, as existed in his day, which would not trim as close to the flesh as the electric razors used today. In his text Likkutei Halachos to tractate Makkos (ch. 3, Ein Mishpat, sec. 7), he concludes: ‘A person who guards his soul should distance himself very far from this.’ His intent was not that this is a mere stringency, but that it is required by law, applicable to every Jew, without distinction.”

    If bachurim in Radin shaved their beards in later years, it was absolutely without the consent and contrary to the position of the Chofetz Chaim, as his son wrote in his biography of the Chofetz Chaim (published in Kol Kisvei Chofetz Chaim):
    “Year after year my father admonished [people] regarding shaving the beard, both orally, in writing and in his publications, but hardly anyone listened to him.”

    This reality regarding the Chofetz Chaim’s vehement objection to shaving is documented further in the aforementioned quotation from Rav Gershon Zaks zt’l, the grandson of the Chofetz Chaim zt’l, which continues:

    “I heard the following story in this regard from my revered father, the gaon, R. Menachem Yosef Zaks, son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim and the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, Radin, which shows the extent the matter caused anguish to the Chofetz Chaim, zt’l.

    “In the latter years of the Chofetz Chaim’s life, his hearing was severely compromised. Therefore, his practice was to stand next to the reader’s platform in order to fulfill his obligation to hear the Torah reading. Nevertheless, on several occasions, he suddenly moved away from the platform in the midst of the Torah reading.

    “When my revered father asked him the reason for his conduct, the Chofetz Chaim answered that he cannot bear the fact that an aliyah is being given to a person who does not have a beard. Therefore he refrains from hearing the Torah reading, because of his anguish.

    “From that time on, my father, zt”l, and my uncle, zt”l, ordained that on the days when the Chofetz Chaim would come to hear the reading of the Torah, an aliyah would not be given to a person who cut his beard.”

    In fact, the Chofetz Chaim wrote an entire sefer called “Kuntres Tiferes Odom” in which he vigorously refuted all the justifications used for shaving (e.g., to help find a shidduch, to help find a job, to improve one’s appearance, and so on), and he sharply declared (as well as providing a thorough explanation) that these justifications were against the Torah.


    Miriamson
    Participant

    The Chazon Ish wrote the following about b’nei Torah who shave, as quoted by Rav Chaim Kanievsky 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…”
    Similarly, the Chazon Ish zt’l wrote in Kovetz Igros (vol. 1, #198) [concerning removing the beard with depilatory cream and close-cutting scissors]: “‘Although this sickness has spread even among Torah scholars, may they be well, the issue has not changed as a result, and therefore my soul burns with rage because of this practice’…. [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.”
    Similarly, Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l stated (as quoted in the second volume of the sefer Aish HaTorah [p. 265], an authoritative biography of Rav Aharon Kotler [authored by Rav Aharon Sorosky shlita, acclaimed biographer of many Gedolim]):
    “Growing a beard is a malbush yehudi, the traditional appearance of a Jew and the way our fathers and forefathers all conducted themselves. Hence, the beard falls under the halachic mandate to uphold the traditional practices of our people (“Do not abandon the Torah of your mother” [see Pesachim 50b]).”
    כתוב בספר ‘אש התורה’ (מאת הרב אהרן סורסקי) ח”ב ע’ רסה (בשם אחד מותיקי תלמידי הגר”א קוטלר זצ”ל בליקווד, ת”ח מופלג ומרביץ תורה):
    “בחור מן הישיבה שגידל זָקָן, שטח לפניו [היינו לפני רבינו הגר”א קוטלר זצ”ל] באחד הימים את עגמת נפשו, באשר הוריו מתנגדים לכך בצורה נחרצת, ודורשים ממנו שיגלח את שערות זקנו. אמר לו רבינו: לגדל הזקן הוי מלבוש יהודי, כה נהגו אבותינו ואבות אבותינו. ומכיון שמדובר ב”אל תיטוש תורת אמך” אינך מחויב לציית להם”.


    Miriamson
    Participant

    Rav Chaim Kanievsky endorsed the publication of a kuntris with quotations from Maran HaRav Shteinman zt’l regarding the beard and shaving and why it was accepted in Litvishe yeshivos to shave (as he did himself). Following is an excerpt from quotations from Rav Shteinman:
    Maran HaRav Shteinman zt’l was asked by a number of yeshiva bochurim: “The rest of the bochurim in my yeshiva do not grow their beards. Should I follow their example or not?”
    To each of them he replied that they should disregard their colleagues’ conduct.
    To one bochur he quoted the Mishna in Ediyos (5:6): “Better to be called a shoteh your entire life than to be a rasha even once.”
    To another he responded even more sharply:“If everyone around you is eating chazir, is that a reason for you to eat it as well?!”
    To a third he said: “No one ever lost anything from growing a beard!”
    Maran HaRav Shteinman was once approached by a bochur who followed the opinion of the Mechaber, that one may cut his hair between Lag Ba’Omer and Shavuos. “Most of the bochurim in my yeshiva do
    not cut their hair until the yemei hagbalah,” he said. “Since I follow the Mechaber’s opinion, may I shave my beard before that time?”
    “Any method you use to shave your beard will be problematic,”
    Maran HaRav Shteinman replied. “Using an electric shaver may involve an issur de’oraysa. Even using shaving cream is not acceptable, as some say this involves the issur of lo yilbash.”
    Some claim that growing a beard demonstrates arrogance, as if he thinks he is perfect.
    “It is still better to grow a beard,” Maran HaRav Shteinman once commented. “This will protect a person spiritually to a certain extent.”
    Maran HaRav Shteinman further remarked:“The reason it was once common for yeshiva bochurim to shave is because the issur involved was not widely known.”
    פרי חיים ממרן הרב שטיינמן זצוק״ל, שופר ארגון להפצת יהדות, צוות שופר גנזי המלך, כ”ו תמוז תשע”ב


    Miriamson
    Participant

    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.”

    in reply to: Kosher shaver? Phillips One Blade #1605447

    Miriamson
    Participant

    See “Why Electric Shavers Are Permitted” at: http://www.koshershaver.info/Kuntris_Magazine_Teves_%205776.pdf

    See also Meged Givos Olam (vol. 1, p. 96) where Rav Shurkin writes that he heard that the reason why Rav Moshe did not want to write this teshuvah permitting shaving machines in Igros Moshe is because while
    (according to the Igros Moshe) it is technically permitted to shave, the tzurah of a Yid is with a beard.This attestation why Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l did not publish his heter regarding shaving machines is also recorded in the popular publication Daf Yomi Digest, a daily resource for thousands of Daf Yomi learners
    worldwide, compiled by the Ruben Shas Kollel and published by Chicago Center for Torah & Chesed, under the leadership of HaRav Yehoshua Eichenstein shlita and HaRav Pinchas Eichenstein shlita, Rosh Kollel. In their issue on Nazir daf 40, the following is documented as clarification of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l’s position:
    “It is well known that Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, did permit the use of certain electric shavers. Someone once approached him and asked why he didn’t write a teshuvah outlining the parameters of which shavers are permitted and which are not. ‘After all, your teshuvos cover every subject under the sun!’ Rav Moshe explained, ‘Although I permit this practice halachically, I don’t want to write a teshuvah formally
    permitting this since the proper way is for a Jew to have a beard. Although this is not halachically prohibited, a Jew ought to grow a beard!’”

    In the most recently published volume of responsa Shevet HaLevi (vol. 11, Y.D. section 198), Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt’l (referred to by many as the Posek Hador) wrote: “With regard to shaving machines…it was agreed by all the Geonim…that there is no difference between [using] them and [using] a razor… The Gaon R. Moshe Feinstein sought to make a distinction between today’s [shaving machines] and a razor
    and advanced a theory [in justification]…. That theory is not correct and has not been accepted ( אינה נכונה ולא נתקבלה aynah nechonah v’lo niskablah).”

    In addition, in the 5778 issue of Agudas Yisroel of America’s Am HaTorah journal (5:9), Rav Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Rov in Gateshead and author of responsa Machzeh Eliyahu and many other halachic works)
    testified that he personally heard from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l how he rejected the reported reasoning of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l to be lenient regarding electric shavers.

    in reply to: Beard #1435683

    Miriamson
    Participant

    Maran HaGaon Rabbi Chayim Kanievsky, shlita, refutes many of the posts here in his sefer Orchos Yosher (p.19), where he wrote: “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)…
    In Kovetz Igros (volume I, #198) of our teacher, the Chazon Ish, he writes: “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..”
    This concludes the quotation from Maran Rav Chayim Kanievsky shlita.

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