Shaving

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Background

  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 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. [11]
  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. [12]

Electric Shavers

  1. There is a major dispute regarding shavers, some are lenient [13] and some are adamantly opposed and forbid. [14] Some say that even those who are lenient are only lenient about the older shavers, but the newer shavers are all forbidden, [15], whereas others, write that there are certain shavers which are permissible and some which are not. See http://www.koshershaver.org/. [16]

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. [17]

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. [18]

Getting a Haircut

Non-Jewish Barber

  1. Although the gemara writes that one should not get a haircut from a non-Jew[19], many poskim nowadays are lenient with this issue. [20]

Washing Your Hands

  1. After a haircut, one should wash his hands. [21] but this is not necessary after shaving [22]


Sources

  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, http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=53467&st=&pgnum=65 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. 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.
  12. Yafeh LeLev 3:121, Ein Lamo Michshol (pg 166)
  13. 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.
  14. 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).
  15. Peot Zekenecha (pg 81)
  16. 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.
  17. Peot Zekenecha (pg 74-76)
  18. Peot Zekenecha (pg 64-67)
  19. Avoda Zara 27a, Shulchan Aruch YD 156:1
  20. see Dinonline.org
  21. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 4:19.
  22. Piskei Teshuvot 4:28