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  1. The Torah says "לא תקפו פאת ראשכם ולא תשחית את פאת זקנך" which means one shouldn't round the corner of one’s head and don’t destroy the corners of one’s beard. [1]
  2. There are two negative commands to which the Torah warns, one of rounding the corners of the head and other of destroying the corners of one’s beard. [2]
  3. These are very serious Torah prohibitions and should not be ignored. [3]
  4. When cutting one’s hair or shaving in a permissible way one should intend to fulfill the Torah commands not to round the corners of the head or the beard. [4]
  5. The Kabbalists hold that it’s preferable not to cut one’s beard at all. [5]

General description

  1. It’s forbidden to cut with a razor the area of “the corners of the face” or Peot HaZaken. Some say it’s permissible to cut with a scissor even if it’s close to the face, while some say that it’s forbidden. [6] If one cuts the hair and leaves 5mm of hair, that's certainly permitted and not a violation of destroying the corners of one's face.[7]
  2. It’s forbidden to cut the hair on one’s neck with a razor (but a scissor close to face is permissible). [8]
  3. It’s permissible to cut the hair on the back of one’s neck even with a razor, however, some are strict but would be lenient to use a shaver on the back of one’s neck. [9]
  4. One should not cut one’s moustache with a razor and some say one shouldn’t even do so with a scissor that’s close to the face. [10]

Boundaries of the Peot HaRosh

  1. The lower boundary of the peot harosh is strictly speaking the top of the jaw bone, which aligns with the middle of the ear.[11] Others say it is until the end of the cartilaginous part of the ear[12] and lastly others say it is until the bottom of the ear.[13]

Boundaries of the Peot HaZaken

  1. The five places of Peot HaZaken according to the Rishonim are as follows
  • Rabbenu Chananel (Tur Y”D 181) includes the 2 joints of the jaw bone to the skull bone (left and right side), the 2 edges of the moustache, and the neck.
  • Raavan (Macot 21a) includes the 2 backmost edges of the jaw below the ear (left and right side), the 2 sides of the chin, and the middle of the chin.
  • Rashi (Shevuot 3a s.v. VeAl) includes the 2 joints of the jaw bone to the skull bone (left and right side), the 2 edges of the jaw bone as it extends forward to the mouth, and the middle of the chin
  • Rosh (Macot 3:2-3) in name of Rashi includes the 2 joints of the jaw bone to the skull bone (left and right side), the 2 sides of chin, and the middle of the chin.
  • Rambam (Hilchot Avoda Zara 12:6) includes the 2 joints of the jaw bone to the skull bone (left and right side), the 2 backmost edges of the jaw below the ear, and the middle of the chin.
  1. Because of the multitude of opinions of the boundaries of Peot HaZaken, one should not cut the entire area of the face below the Peot HaRosh (from bottom of the ear) with a razor and some say not even with a scissor close to the face. [14]
  2. Because of there is some disagreement regarding whether or not the front of the neck is included, one should refrain from using a razor in that area. [15]

Electric Shavers

  1. There is a major dispute regarding electric shavers, some are lenient[16] and some are adamantly opposed and forbid.[17] Among those who are quoted as subscribing to the lenient approach include: Rav Moshe Feinstein,[18] Rav Chaim Ozer Grodinsky,[19] Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook,[20] Rav Yakov Kamenetsky,[21] Rav Yitzchak Hutner,[22] Rav Shimon Schwab,[23] Rav Aharon Soloveitchik, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein,[24] Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul,[25] Rav Mordechai Eliyahu,[26] Rav Meir Mazuz,[27] Rav Yisrael Rozen,[28] and Rav Mordechai Willig.[29] Among those quoted as holding of the stringent approach include: Rav Yaakov Breish,[30] Rav Ovadia Yosef,[31] Rav Yitzchak Weiss, Chazon Ish, Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (Steipler), Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Rav Nissim Karletiz, and Rav Shmuel Wosner.[32] The opinion of the following rabbanim is ambiguous: Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach[33] and Rav Aharon Kotler.[34]
  2. According to the stringent view, it is forbidden to use an electric shaver to get a clean shave, but it is permitted to shave in a way that leaves a thin layer of facial hair.[35] One possible way to shave permissibly according to this opinion is to disable the lift portion of a shaver and not repeatedly shave any area of the face.[36]

Specific Shavers

Rotary Shavers

  1. Rav Moshe Heinemann of the Star-K explains that Rav Moshe Feinstein would test the shaver blades by seeing if the blade was used to try to cut a hair held taught. If it didn’t cut the blade was acceptable. Therefore, he concluded that blades of rotary head shavers are increasingly sharp and would be problematic.[37]
  2. Rav Yisrael Rozen of Zomet disagrees as the blades in all electric shavers, including rotary shavers, only cut in combination with the screen. Since it functions as a scissor it is acceptable irrelevant of how sharp the blade is. Also, the blade does not touch the skin. There is a tiny gap between the blade and the skin.[38]

Foil Shavers

  1. Rav Yisrael Belsky,[39] Rav Dovid Feinstein,[40] and Rav Shimon Schwab.[41] forbid foil shavers since there is a concern that the foil itself is sharp enough to cut the hair by itself.
  2. Rav Chaim Jachter confirms that the advertised claim that the foil is sharp enough to cut is unsubstantiated and rules leniently.[42]

Lift and Cut

  1. Rav Yisrael Belsky[43] and Rav Dovid Feinstein[44] forbade using lift and cut shavers since according to the companies the shaver uses a double blade. They claim that the first blade catches the hair and pulls it into the shaver and the second blade then cuts the hair without the use of the screen in a razor-like manner. Removing the hair-catching spring blade eliminates this concern.[45]
  2. Rav Rozen dismissed this concern since in reality the shaver blade only cuts in combination with the screen. Rav Mordechai Willig, Rav Hershel Schachter, Rav Shimon Schwab,[46] and Rav Moshe Heinemann agree with this position that lift and cut shavers are no different than conventional shavers.[47]


  1. Rav Heinemann left the status of the OneBlade as inconclusive due to the concern that it might be sharp enough to cut hair on its own.[48]
  2. Zomet approved its use since it functions with a scissor action between the screen and blade.[49]

Those Who Permit All Shavers

  1. Many poskim are of the opinion that according to the lenient view almost all electric shavers are permitted.[50]

Haircutting Machines and Trimmers

  1. The way a haircutting machine (and also the trimmer on a shaver) is that there are two rows of blades, one that is stationary and one that moves. It’s permissible to cut with the stationary side against the face as it always leaves the root of the hairs (so that if one ran one’s finger opposite the grain, one would feel it). However, the usual way the haircutting machine (or trimmer) is used is by pressing the moving side against one’s face and for this it depends which type of haircutting machine one uses. Some haircutting machines have the moving row of blades at least 2 millimeters away from the edge of the of stationary blades, which are permissible to use (even by placing the moving row of blades against one’s face). However, some haircutting machines have edge of the moving row of blades on the same level of the edge of the stationary row of blades, and these are forbidden (unless one uses it by placing the stationary row of blades against one’s face. [51]

Hair removal cream

  1. It’s permissible to use hair removal cream to remove the hair of Peot HaZaken, however, the cream should be removed with a dull edge (that wouldn't cut an apple) and not a sharp edge. [52]

Getting a Haircut

Non-Jewish Barber

  1. Although the gemara writes that one should not get a haircut from a non-Jew[53], many poskim nowadays are lenient with this issue. [54]

Washing Your Hands

  1. After a haircut, one should wash his hands[55] but this is not necessary after shaving [56]


  1. Vayikra 19:27
  2. Rambam (Intro to Avoda Zara counts Hakafat HaRosh and Giluach HaZaken as two separate negative commands.
  3. Sh”t Tashbetz 3:127 s.v. Lo Nichad writes that those who constantly violate this sin consider it as if the prohibition wasn’t written explicitly in the Torah and those people are considered like violating all of the Torah and their ritual slaughter isn’t acceptable!
  4. Pela Yoetz (Paragrah “Geluach”) writes that not violating the negative command is like fulfilling a positive command and one should intend to fulfill it actively.
  5. Birkei Yosef 181:10 in name of the Arizal. See also the Meor Yisrael who quotes the Bava Sali who says that have a beard and not cutting it brings forgiveness for one’s sins!
  6. S”A 181:10 writes that it’s forbidden to cut with a razor and it’s permissible to cut with a scissor close to the face. However, Bach YD 181:9 writes that one should be careful not to shave one's neck with a razor or a scissor. He is concerned for the opinion of the Trumat HaDeshen who forbids cutting the corners of the face with a scissor if it cuts close to the face. The Shach 181:7 argues that one doesn't need to be strict for the opinion. The Chatom Sofer 2:139 s.v. veod cites the opinion of the Trumat HaDeshen and explains that according to that opinion it would be biblically forbidden to shave with a scissor close to the face. Also, it seems that he holds like that opinion.
  7. Peot Zekenecha (pg 18-19)
  8. Rama 181:10, Taz Y”D 181:4, Peot Zekenecha (pg 65)]
  9. Peot Zekenecha (pg 90)
  10. Taz Y”D 181:3. Peot Zekenecha (pg 60, 64) writes that it’s permissible to cut in the middle of the moustache but just not the edges.
  11. Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 4 quoting Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Rav Moshe Feinstein, and the Eretz Tzvi
  12. Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 3 quoting the Imrei Yosher 2:183
  13. Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 2 citing the practice of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rav Tzvi Sobolofsky, and Rav Michael Taubes
  14. S”A Y”D 181:11 quotes the Rosh saying that one should not cut the entire area of Peot HaZaken because of the multitude of opinions. The issue of “a scissor close to the face” is discussed above.
  15. Yafeh LeLev 3:121, Ein Lamo Michshol (pg 166)
  16. Sh”t Har Tzvi, Sh”t Chelkat Yacov 3:39, Sh”t Teshuvot VeHanhagot 1:459 in name of Rav Chaim Ozer, Peot Zekenecha (pg 81) in name of Rav Pinchas Sheinburg and Rav Moshe Feinstein.
    • Regarding Rav Moshe, Sam Chayim p. 38 quotes Rav Reuven Feinstein as saying that his father only permitted electric shavers if the blades weren't sharp enough to cut the hair on their own without the screens. Also, that leniency only existed when non-Jews didn't commonly use electric shavers, but today that it is common it is forbidden.
  17. Likkutei Halachot of the Chafetz Chaim, Minchat Yitzchak 4:113 in name of the Chazon Ish, Rav Vosner in Sh”t Shevet HaLevi 4:96, Chavalim BeNeeymim Y”D 4:27, Kovetz Teshuvot 1:32 written by Rav Elyashiv, Peot Zekenecha (pg 80) in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky in name of his father the Steipler, and Rav Nassim Karlitz (Chut HaSheni Hilchot Shabbat vol 1 at the end).
  18. Though he never wrote a written responsum on the topic, Rav Moshe Feinstein's student unanimously agree that Rav Moshe Feinstein permitted electric shavers. The students of Rav Moshe who quote him as holding such a position include: Rav Yisrael Belsky (Shulchan Halevi p. 127-8), Rav Moshe Heinemann (Star-K), Rav Reuven Feinstein (Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 36), and Rav Aharon Felder (Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 49). While Rav Moshe Heinemann and Rav Yisrael Belsky (cited by Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 50) quotes Rav Moshe as only permitting electric shavers after subjecting the blade to a sharpness test, Rav David J. Bleich and Rav Aharon Felder (cited by Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 49) quote Rav Moshe as permitted even without that test.
  19. Sh”t Teshuvot VeHanhagot 1:459
  20. The Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 32 quoting Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook quoting his father as the baseline halacha permitting electric shavers. See Sh"t Orach Mishpat 128:53.
  21. The Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 30 quoting Emet Lyakov YD 181. See the letter on p. 220 where Rav Yakov expresses concern about more advanced shavers. Rabbi Jachter in The Halachic Haircutting Handbook allays those concerns.
  22. The Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 32 in the name of Rav David H. Schwartz quoting Rav Aharon Lichtenstein quoting Rav Hutner. A story about Rav Hutner's original practice to shave and his change is found in mishpacha magazine December 2020, p. 89.
  23. Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 50 quoting Rav Baruch Simon quoting Rav Shimon Schwab. Rabbi Simon quotes Rav Schwab as permitting all shavers even without any sharpness test, while his grandson quotes Rav Schwab as subjecting them to the sharpness test.
  24. Haircutting Handbook p. 28
  25. Yabia Omer 9:10:15
  26. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 170:2
  27. Haircutting Handbook p. 45 citing Yitzchak Yiranen 5:6:3
  28. Zomet
  29. Haircutting Handbook p. 62
  30. Chelkat Yakov YD 90
  31. Yabia Omer 9:10
  32. Kuntres Sam Chayim
  33. See Halichot Shlomo v. 1
  34. Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 31 quotes Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Meir Senderovic as reporting that many students in Lakewood shaved and Rav Aharon did not say anything. He also quotes Rav Moshe Heinemann as quoting that Rav Aharon forbade electric shavers.
  35. Rabbi Jachter quoting Yabia Omer 9:10 and Chelkat Yakov YD 90. Lhorot Natan 3:62 agrees.
  36. Binyamin Jachter
  37. Rav Heinemann
  38. Rav Rozen
  39. OU Halacha Yomi citing Shulchan Halevi p. 128
  40. Rav Baruch Simon (Peyos min 15) quotes Rav Dovid Feinstein as holding that foil shavers are problematic since the foil is sharp enough to cut on its own.
  41. Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 50 quotes Rav Doniel Schwab quoting his grandfather, Rav Shimon Schwab, as forbidding the foil shavers.
  42. [ Rabbi Jachter (Shavers part 4)
  43. OU Halacha Yomi citing Shulchan Halevi p. 128
  44. Rav Baruch Simon (Peyos min 17-18)
  45. [ Rabbi Jachter (Shavers part 4)
  46. Haircutting Handbook p. 50 quotes Rav Doniel Schwab quoting his grandfather, Rav Shimon Schwab
  47. [ Rabbi Jachter (Shavers part 4)
  48. Rav Tzvi Rosen of the Star-K
  49. Rav Jachter (Shavers part 5)
  50. Zomet, Rav Aryeh Lebowitz (Ten Minute Halacha, Electric Shavers), Rabbi Jachter (Shavers part 5). In his work, Halachic Haircutting Handbook p. 75 culled the opinions of Rav Shmuel Fuerst, Rav Hershel Schachter, Rav Elazar Meyer Teitz, Rav Mordechai Willig as holding that all shavers are permitted. Rabbi Jachter writes that many poskim permit all electric shavers and there is no difference between the different types. He concluded that almost all are permitted like Zomet's conclusion, though he isn't aware of any that are absolutely forbidden. See Peot Zekenecha (pg 81). See also the RJJ journal (Vol 36 article on Electric Shavers by David Schwartz) which quotes various testimonies of Rav Moshe's opinion (pg 108). Rav Mordechai Eliyahu in his comments to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 170:2 writes that although it is permitted to cut one's beard with a scissor like action even if it cut the hair so that the face is smooth, one should consult a posek about electric shavers because some cut in a scissor like fashion and some in a razor like fashion. See also Star-K article on this.
  51. Peot Zekenecha (pg 74-76)
  52. Peot Zekenecha (pg 64-67)
  53. Avoda Zara 27a, Shulchan Aruch YD 156:1
  54. see
  55. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 4:19.
  56. Piskei Teshuvot 4:28