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New York - Haircuts on Friday Before LaG BaOmer - a Halachic Analysis

Published on: May 19, 2011 03:42 PM
By: Rabbi Yair Hoffman/ Five Towns Jewish Times
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New York - 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 the Mahariv.

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.

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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 be 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 Shlita 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.  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.

The author may be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com  and welcomes discussion on this issue.


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1

 May 19, 2011 at 03:52 PM Mayer Says:

Thanks rabbi Huffman this was very clear and useful

2

 May 19, 2011 at 04:05 PM Moshe Says:

I heard that you can only shave once on Friday otherwise your first shave is not l'kovod Shabbos

3

 May 19, 2011 at 04:06 PM ComeOn Says:

People should understand that "Lkavod Shabbos" does NOT mean Friday morning before going to work.

4

 May 19, 2011 at 04:45 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

The rema is talking about getting a haircut. According to most poskim shaving at any time is prohibited. It's amazing that Yeshiva Leit still regularly shave, when many poskim have ruled it assur.

5

 May 19, 2011 at 04:55 PM overnight-kigel Says:

If it is L'kovod Shabbos, one should only take a haircut. Proper kovod for shabbos is a yid with a beard that has not been touched for a month.

6

 May 19, 2011 at 05:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
AuthenticSatmar Says:

The rema is talking about getting a haircut. According to most poskim shaving at any time is prohibited. It's amazing that Yeshiva Leit still regularly shave, when many poskim have ruled it assur.

Many reliable poskim have said that an electric shaver is permitted. You follow your poskim, I'll follow mine.

7

 May 19, 2011 at 05:56 PM SF2K1 Says:

Reply to #4  
AuthenticSatmar Says:

The rema is talking about getting a haircut. According to most poskim shaving at any time is prohibited. It's amazing that Yeshiva Leit still regularly shave, when many poskim have ruled it assur.

And by most/many poskim, you mean 2, possibly 3 that you can name in a sea of poskim. Rov poskim means more than yours and the ones you know.

8

 May 19, 2011 at 05:57 PM SF2K1 Says:

Reply to #3  
ComeOn Says:

People should understand that "Lkavod Shabbos" does NOT mean Friday morning before going to work.

If you feel a need to shave for work, there are already plenty of poskim who provide heterim for that.

9

 May 19, 2011 at 06:54 PM The_Truth Says:

Reply to #4  
AuthenticSatmar Says:

The rema is talking about getting a haircut. According to most poskim shaving at any time is prohibited. It's amazing that Yeshiva Leit still regularly shave, when many poskim have ruled it assur.

It is only in 'recent years' (last 20-30) that bochrim have grown beards - previously, only a few married men grew beards & ALL bochrim shaved / used depilatory cream.

10

 May 19, 2011 at 06:56 PM My Rov Says:

Reply to #3  
ComeOn Says:

People should understand that "Lkavod Shabbos" does NOT mean Friday morning before going to work.

Actually my Rov addressed this - if you wont be able to shave / get a haircut on Friday afternoon, then friday morning is fine - but not Thursday night.

11

 May 19, 2011 at 07:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Just so there is no confusion, it is totally assur to get a haircut on shabbos under any circumstances, whether the day before Lag Ba'omer or any other time. I think Rav Hoffman is only addressing the issue of eruv shabbos so that one will look pretty for shabbos.

12

 May 19, 2011 at 07:03 PM UseYourHead Says:

Shave, v'al ta'aseh adif.

13

 May 19, 2011 at 08:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
AuthenticSatmar Says:

The rema is talking about getting a haircut. According to most poskim shaving at any time is prohibited. It's amazing that Yeshiva Leit still regularly shave, when many poskim have ruled it assur.

Only among a few Satmer and Bobover is the holding that shaving is ganz assur....for the large percentage of what you call "Yeshiva Leit" (aka the heimeshe tzibur) shaving is mutar, especially for those who work in secular companies where a clean-shaven appearence is necessary for a parnassah.

14

 May 19, 2011 at 09:05 PM Michoel Dovid Says:

Re: Shaving - Pretty sure Moshe Rabbeinu didn't use fancy creams.

And I have held nice positions at large corporations that never told me not to keep the beard. [One even told me when they hired me that they don't normally allow it, so if I ever shaved it, they wouldn't let me grow it back. So I kept it.]

Secondly, as much as we can find heterim by using our thumbs for a few because of this-then-thats, is it really that hard to go another 2 weeks or so without a haircut? I mean, I got a close buzz before Pesach and my hair is still a bit shorter that I normally have it.

15

 May 19, 2011 at 09:07 PM FinVeeNemtMenSeichel Says:

Reply to #4  
AuthenticSatmar Says:

The rema is talking about getting a haircut. According to most poskim shaving at any time is prohibited. It's amazing that Yeshiva Leit still regularly shave, when many poskim have ruled it assur.

We shaver-set have who to be soimech on and you are not the poisek hador. Its assur to be maavir sa'ar and to do hashchassa. The 'yeshivish leit' do neither when they shave with electric razors. There have been endless discussions on the topic. Besides, ma inyan shmite etzel har sinai - this is about Lag baOmer which falls on Sunday and Kavod Shabbos - not a referendum on if its muttar to shave (which it is).

16

 May 19, 2011 at 11:28 PM emes01 Says:

Rabbi Hoffman's analysis makes sense as pure analysis but it seems far fetched to say Reb Elyashuv disagrees with the Chofetz Chaim. Why not ask Reb Elyashuv what his thinking is? I wouldn't be surprised if he never said it and one of his hangers-on misinterpreted what he said.

17

 May 20, 2011 at 01:54 AM ComeOn Says:

Reply to #10  
My Rov Says:

Actually my Rov addressed this - if you wont be able to shave / get a haircut on Friday afternoon, then friday morning is fine - but not Thursday night.

"won't be able to" or trying to pull shtick in order to bend the rules? We are supposed to be mourning.

18

 May 20, 2011 at 10:21 AM Raphael_Kaufman Says:

Reply to #17  
ComeOn Says:

"won't be able to" or trying to pull shtick in order to bend the rules? We are supposed to be mourning.

Sefirah is not "mourning" per se.. The strictures that apply to aveilus, I.E. bathing, relations, kriah, leather shoes,etc. obviously do not apply to sefirah.

19

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