The Erev Shabbos (Thursday Night?) Haircut Before LaG BaOmer – A Halachic Analysis


By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times

For those who just want the bottom line – the answer is “Yes.” You can get a haircut on Friday (if you are Ashkenazi) this year after davening – even if its only the 31st day of the Omer. What about Thursday night? Most Sefardim, however, have to wait until Monday morning this year, in accordance with the view of Rav Karo. Also, what about if one missed the haircut on Friday? May he get on on Motzai Shabbos – Saturday night?

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For those who are curious about the analysis – read on. There is a fascinating Remah (in Orech Chaim 493:2) that tells us that when LaG BaOmer falls on Sunday, the custom is to allow getting a haircut on Friday on account of Kavod Shabbos. The Ramah seems to cite the Maharil as the source for this ruling. In fact, the parenthesis indicating the source – was not penned by the Ramah but rather by a later editor.


Indeed, if one looks at the Maharil, one sees no such indication in his writings that this is correct. What then is the source? It comes from some place else – it comes from the Mahariv – not the Maharil. Apparently, there is a mis-transcribed letter that has entered into our Shulchan Aruch.


Poskim and Gedolei HaRoshei Yeshiva have given two explanations for the ruling found in the Ramah.


One explanation is that since one is shaving and getting a haircut on Sunday, and Shabbos is right beforehand, it seems to be a “slap in the face” to the Shabbos that one did not get a haircut for the holiest day of the week too. In other words, it is the comparison that would be drawn from the Sunday holiday to the gift that Hashem gave us – the Shabbos.


Another explanation is that LaG BaOmer is actually a holiday, where the holiness of that holiday begins at Mincha on the previous day. One does not recite Tachanun, for example, on the Mincha that immediately precedes LaG BaOmer. Since this is the case, one would technically have been permitted to shave and get a haircut on Shabbos. The only problem, of course, is that it is a violation of Shabbos.

And herein lies our heter. Since it is forbidden to do so on Shabbos – the minhag is to permit it on the day before – so that it could be done for Shabbos. This is the explanation of the Mahariv’s position.


What is interesting to note is that, although the Ramah cites sources that it is the minhag to permit these haircuts, is it ideal?
Rav Elyashiv is quoted by one of his students, Rabbi Avrohom Hillel Weinberger, author of HaGaos VeHosafos (as cited in Ashrei HaIsh p. 430) that although it is permitted it is “not mehudar” and it is preferable, rather, to get the haircut on Sunday.


This position comes as a shock to most people. How so? Well firstly, the Mishna Brurah does not mention at all the notion that it is “not Mehudar.” Secondly, it has been the minhag of all Bnei Yeshiva to follow this ruling of the Remah – ostensibly not only because it was permitted, but because it involved issues of Kavod Shabbos.


It is this author’s suggestion that the issue is actually a matter of debate between the Poskim of yesterday and Rav Elyashiv zt”l. Rav Elyashiv might hold of the second explanation of the Mahariv – that we just do it on Friday because we cannot do it on Shabbos. The Mishna Brurah and the Gedolei HaRoshei Yeshiva who permitted it fully in the past would hold of the first explanation of the Mahariv that it is a bit of a Bizayon to Shabbos to get a haircut the next day, but not for Shabbos itself.


Regardless, all authorities agree that it is permitted to do so. Some say that one should precisely because of the issue of Kavod Shabbos – Rav Elyashiv holds that ideally one shouldn’t. This author would like to suggest that the Mishna Brurah’s silence here, and his ruling elsewhere regarding Rosh Chodesh on Sunday indicates that the Chofetz Chaim was not in agreement with the view of Rav Elyashiv here.


One can certainly shave and get a haircut on Friday this year (According to Rav Mordechai Bunim Silverberg, Rav Shteinman permitted it even on Thursday night). Kikar Shabbat reports that they have a ruling from Rav Chaim Kanievsky that it is permitted on Thursday night as well. We can extrapolate from what Rav Ovadia Yoseph writes regarding the Sefardic minhag of the 34th day of the omer (Yechaveh Daas IV #32) that he permits it only when one is unable to do so on Friday. Other Sefardic Jews wait until the morning after lag baomer. Some question the Thursday night heter, however. The OU Halacha Yomis reports that Rav Shmuel Vosner zt”l held that ONE MAY NOT DO SO on Thursday night (MiBais Levi, Nissan 5758 p.87 note 3). One should, of course, ask one’s own Rav or Posaik as to whether they agree with the idea that the Chofetz Chaim’s silence indicates that he disagrees with Rav Elyashiv’s point that it is not Mehudar, and as to whether they are permitted to do so on Thursday night as well.

Also, according to Rav Elyashiv in Mishnas HaGRish page 196 – if one missed the Erev Shabbos opportunity, he cannot get a haircut on Saturday night. He must wait until Sunday morning after davening.

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  1. Shaving because of Kavod Shabbos? A direct Issur D’Oraisa from last weeks Parsha Is now Mutar because of Kavod Shabbos, and by the Roshei Hayeshiva, no less.

  2. Nice article. Here are some corrections:

    First of all, there are two different reasons why haircuts might be permitted this Friday. The first one presented in this article is the opinion of Reb Moshe Feinstein zt”l quoted in the sefer Bein Pesach L”shshavuos.

    The second explanation is actually misrepresented in this article. That reason is given by the B’eer Heitev as a reasoning why haircuts and music would be permitted on a regular year (or this year Motzei Shabbos) on the night of Lag Baomer. He states that if you do not say tachanun on erev Lag Baomer, then Lag Baomer is a Yom Tov and Haircuts are permitted at night. Most earlier poskim learn that this opinion holds that the Talmidei Reb Akiva only died for 32 days, not 33.

    If you do say tachanun on erev Lag Baomer, then we hold the talmidim died for 33 days. Hence we need miktzas hayom of the 33rd day, and haircuts would only be permitted after sunrise of Lag Baomer.

    The Mishna Berura paskens like the Pri Migadim who holds that even though we pasken that 33 days of morning are required, we are lenient and do not recite tachanun on erev Lag Baomer.

    But regardless, this would not permit haircuts on day 32 as stated in this article. Haircuts on Shabbos would be prohibited either way.

    The second explanation for taking haircuts this Friday is as follows. By a real avel whose shloshim end on Shabbos, we permit showering on Friday. The MaHariv hols that we therefore be lenient by sefira and also take haircuts on Friday. This is the true reason sated by the MaHariv himself. There are many difficulties with this opinion and comparison. The MaHaril argues in this MaHariv and does not allow haircuts this Friday.

    According to the original reasoning of the MaHariv, most poskim prohibit haircuts Thursday night. The reason is because we need the miktzas hayom of Friday, and therefore cannot take haircuts until after sunrise, or practically speaking until after one davens. (Haircuts and shaving is always prohibited before davening.)

    This is why Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky shlita is quoted in Kovetz Halchos stating he cannot understand how the Beis Dovid permits haircuts Thursday night. According to the MaHariv’s own reasoning, which is the source of the Rama, there is no logic to permit Thursday night. That is why the Rama himself says explicitly “V’lo Mib’erev”. Reb Shmuel himself prohibits haircuts Thursday night.

    The Rivivos Efrayim also has a long arichus in two places explaining why it is difficult to understand why Thursday night haircuts would be permitted.

    However, the Beis Dovid does permit haircuts Thursday night, but only if one will not be able to take a haircut either Friday OR Sunday. That is called a shaas hadchak and therefore he may take Thursday night.

    This is either because he holds that for sefira we can rely on the Rishonim who hold we already have miktzas hayom at night b’dieved, or because of Reb Moshe’s reasoning.

    Rabbi Felder shlita in Shiurei Halacha is mesupak if Thurday night haircuts are permitted.He is not sure if we need miktzas hayom, or if we go like Reb Moshe’s reasoning. He also question if even according to Reb Moshe one might still need to wait until Friday when there is more kavod Shabbos. He paskens l’maaseh that if one will not be able to take a haircut or shave on Friday, then he may be lenient and take one Thrusday night.

    The Rivivos Efraim quotes Reb Binyomin Zilber as also paskening that if unable to take a haircut Friday, one is allowed to take one on Thursday night.

    He also adds that if one did not take a harcut or shave for Shabbos, he may still do so on Sunday. It is not considered a zilzul to Shabbos. Since there is a MaHaril who prohibits haircuts on Friday, it cannot be called a zilzul when acting according to his opinion.

    Taking a haircut this Motzei Shabbos is an entirely different topic which deserves an article in and of itself…

  3. There are plenty of Sefardi people on your website. We do not shave….maybe consider our position, since Shulchan Aruch happen to be sefardi and he does not let

  4. There are plenty of Sefardi people on your website. We do not shave….maybe consider our position, since Shulchan Aruch happen to be sefardi and he does not let. MODERATOR: The sefardic position is mentioned deeper in the article.

  5. A rabbi needs to address the specific needs of his audience and community. Rabbi Hoffman wrote this for the Five Towns Jewish Times, not for Yeshiva World News. For some people this would apply only to taking a haircut. Leave the Shaving heter for those that shave.

    Be aware that there is something called Torah Shebal Peh. The mishna (in Makkos and other places) says that the Torah Prohibition is only with a ‘Taar’, and a second Tanah also prohibits a Melaket and Rihitni. Don’t be so quick to accuse everyone that shaves of being oiver a ‘direct Issue D’Oraisa from last weeks Parsha’. There are many different possible definitions of what is and what isn’t Assur.

  6. This is a different discussion, but you anti shaving people really have to get over it.
    In the Litvishe velt, bachurim have been shaving for years. Just look at pictures from the Mir in Europe. You will see, every Rosh Yeshiva or Rav that came out of there was clean shaven back then, even when they were in Shanghai. In many Litvishe yeshivos, shaving is mandatory. When I was in Mesivta back in the 80’s our Rosh Yeshiva made us all shave except for one bachur who had a Chassidishe background and his Father personally called and got a pitur for him.
    Rabbi Lebovits put out numerous halacha sefarim with the pesakim of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky ZT”L. In one of them, Rabbi Belsky goes into an arichus of the whole electric shaver parsha. You anti shaving crowd will find it very enlightening. He goes thru the technicality of how it works and how it cuts. He even has his doubts about how the Norelco company claims that they have a shaver that “lifts and cuts”. Before you anti shaving crowd get all excited, read his sefer.

  7. Ephraim, OK, read it as having a haircut, not shaving.

    Ephraim Halevy, Firstly the author specifically said this is for Ashkenazim. This is underlined by the fact that the heter is mentioned in the Rema, not the Mechaber.

    It should perhaps be pointed out, that the Baer Hetev, who points out that the Maharil forbade this, and the Mahariv permitted it, also says that one should not be machmir in these matters.