Shavers in Halacha
פאות הזקן ופאות הראש
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of using an electrical shaver to remove one’s facial hair has been debated
amongst the poskim of the previous generation and is an ongoing issue of
controversy amongst contemporary Rabbonim. At the onset of this discussion, it is
very important to firmly emphasize that there is no intention to side with any
on this topic, but to merely discuss the halachic issues involved, and to
clarify each side of this machlokes equally. We respectfully request from the
reader to honor our most earnest desire to do so and not assume the contrary.
Prohibition in the Torah
The Torah forbids a man to round (i.e. remove) the hair on the corners of
his head (i.e. the area of one’s temple and sideburns), and to destroy the
corners of his beard (i.e. the hair that grows from the lower part of one’s
face; the area referred to as the beard).
view a beard as being an important part of a man's body.
explain that a beard was created to distinguish a man from a woman.
writes that the reason why the Torah prohibits a man from destroying his
beard is because that was the custom of the gentile priests. This explanation
fits well with the fact that the Torah forbids the removal of one’s hair
in juxtaposition with all the mitzvos that are forbidden because of
It is interesting to note that the Yiddish term for priest is “galach”.
This was derived from the word “giluach” - shaving, which, as mentioned,
was a visible characteristic of a gentile priest. (Towards the end of this
article, we will discuss whether there is also a prohibition of
ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו
removing one’s beard).
Although there are
Gemaros depicting R’ Yochanan’s unusual
(i.e. his handsome appearance), nevertheless, Chazal do not list R’
Yochanan among the amoraim who possessed the most handsome appearances in
the world. This is because R’ Yochanan was unable to grow a beard.
Many Yiddin throughout history
put their lives at risk so that their beards would not be removed by goyim
who hated them.
The Arizal is
quoted as maintaining that according to kabbalah,
a man is forbidden to remove even a small part of his beard. This prohibits one
from even trimming his beard. Furthermore, he maintained that it is forbidden
for one to pluck out even a single hair from his beard. Moreover, as an added
precaution, mekubalim maintain that one should refrain from touching his
beard so that he will not inadvertently remove a hair.
(It seems that some mekubalim disagreed
with the last point,
since they maintained that stroking one’s beard while learning is a segulah
to understand a chiddush in a sugya.)
As an aside, it is
interesting to mention that there is a discussion among the poskim
whether one is permitted to put the hairs that fall out of one’s beard into a
sefer, as is common for some people to do along the inside margin of many
seforim. The reason to prohibit such an act is that it is improper to store
anything that is not kadosh in a sefer.
Indeed, some poskim maintain that one should not even place shaimos
inside a sefer.
With regard to placing hair inside a sefer, some poskim draw a
distinction between those who follow the custom of the Arizal and those
who do not. Those who don’t intentionally remove even one single hair because it
is viewed as being a cheftza shel kedusha (an object of holiness) in
accordance with the opinion of the Arizal, are permitted to place it into
a sefer, while those who do cut their beards and thus treat it as
ordinary hair, are forbidden to place it inside a sefer.
Some poskim maintain that if it is a public sefer, one should
refrain from leaving things inside it in all circumstances, since this may annoy
others who will use the sefer.
Some disagree with the
aforementioned quoted opinion of the Arizal, and maintain that the
Arizal only forbade, according to kabbalah, removing one’s beard
entirely, since one is doing away with all the symbols and signs that are
represented by a beard. Trimming, however, would be permitted.
The Chasam Sofer
writes that he does not understand the big commotion that is made against those
who cut off their beards (i.e. in a permitted fashion). He writes that nowadays
we have no connection to that which was forbidden according to kabbalah,
and we need not be concerned for anything but the basic halacha, and that
which is openly expounded upon by Chazal. Additionally, he writes that it
is reported that the Remah MeFano, who lived in Italy and was one of the
greatest mekubalim, removed his beard entirely. All the Yiddin
from Italy who have removed their beards rely upon this.
There are some
shitos that draw a distinction between Eretz Yisroel, where according
to kabbalah one should grow a beard, and chutz la’aretz where this
does not apply. This can serve as a reconciliation between the view of the
Arizal who lived in Eretz Yisroel, and that of the Remah MeFano
who lived in Italy. Indeed, some mekubalim maintained that chutz
la’aretz is not worthy enough to have people with beards living in it.
The Chasam Sofer concludes by
saying that a person who acts stringently is considered holy, but one who acts
leniently should not be criticized in any way for his conduct.
There are four possible reasons as to
why some poskim prohibit shaving one’s entire beard.
The Torah, as mentioned above,
forbids one to remove his facial hair. However, the Torah’s terminology
describing this prohibition is very vague. The Torah does not mention how
much hair may not be removed, and does not specify which instrument may not be
used. Chazal, however, interpret the posuk based on the
phraseology that the Torah uses.
The posuk that
forbids the removal of one’s beard uses the term
תשחית – do
not “destroy.” A bit later on, the Torah lists several
prohibitions that apply uniquely to kohanim, and the posuk
forbidding the removal of one’s facial hair is listed once again amongst them.
In this reiteration of the prohibition, the Torah changes its terminology
one should not “shave” his beard. Chazal explain that the Torah
did not intend to add or broaden the prohibition for kohanim, but to
clarify the parameters of the halacha as it pertains to all Yidden.
Chazal therefore derive that one is only prohibited to remove his facial
hair if his actions constitute both “destroying” and “shaving.” If one of these
two criteria is not met, the prohibition does not apply. Chazal clearly
defined such a twofold action as being performed only by the use of a razor. The
Shulchan Aruch paskens that removing one’s hair with
scissors is permitted, since it only achieves the criterion of shaving, but not
that of destroying. Tweezers may be used as well, since it only achieves the
criterion of destroying, and not that of shaving.
permit the use of shaving cream to remove one’s beard. Although it burns off all
the facial hair to which it is applied, and it is considered to be destroying
the hair, nevertheless, its fails to meet the guidelines of shaving.
Care should be taken when using shaving cream, that one does not use a hard and
sharp item to assist in the removal of the hair. This is because any hair that
has not yet been totally burned off by the cream, will be cut with the sharp
item. Consequently, one would be performing an act of shaving and destroying,
which is forbidden.
Scissors may be used to
remove facial hair since they do not achieve destruction.
Scissors use two blades to cut
(i.e. a top and bottom blade). The item is cut in between the top and bottom
blade. Therefore, when using scissors to cut facial hair, stubble equal to the
thickness of the bottom blade of the scissors remains. Scissors therefore do not
achieve total destruction.
maintain that destroying a hair is only possible if the hair is cut off
completely at skin level, and there is not even the smallest stubble of hair
visible on the face.
Others maintain that the prohibition of destroying facial hair is violated even
if the hair is not cut off completely at skin level, and as long as it is cut
very close to the skin it is a violation. They maintain that any hair that is
cut so short that it cannot be lifted slightly by placing one's fingernail under
is considered to be destroyed, even though it has not been cut off completely at
Tweezers may be used as
well, since it only achieves the criterion of destroying, and not that of
shaving. Tweezers pluck out the hair as opposed to cutting it. Additionally,
some maintain that the act of shaving is performed only if one uses a
cutting instrument that is normally used for shaving.
As mentioned above, Chazal tell
us that a razor is the only instrument that fulfills both criteria, and is thus
The Chofetz Chaim
discussed the new mechanical clippers of his time. He writes as follows: “[They]
function like a razor and remove the hair entirely, to the extent that nothing
remains. It would seem that one who shaves his beard with them violates
the prohibition.” He adds that one who watches over his soul, should stay far
away from those mechanical clippers.
The Chofetz Chaim bases this ruling on the fact that the
Gemara, as explained by some Rishonim, implies that any cutting
instrument that is normally used for shaving and destroys the hair as well, is
prohibited. He held that mechanical clippers meet both criteria, and therefore,
should not be used on a beard.
It is important to note
that in the Chofetz Chaim’s description of how a mechanical clipper
works, he writes that it has the ability to remove the hair in its entirety and
that nothing remains. Some poskim maintain that contemporary electric
shavers are so much more advanced, and are definitely forbidden.
Shavers have a separation (e.g. the
screen), albeit a very thin one, between the blade and the skin, and as a
result, do not completely obliterate the hair at skin level but leave over small
stubble. The Chofetz Chaim maintained that even the mechanical clippers
remove the hair entirely, even though they tend to leave over stubble. It is
apparent that the Chofetz Chaim who prohibited the use of mechanical
clippers, maintained that the stubble that remains is not significant enough for
it to make a difference.
However, Rav Yosef
during his time, as well several other
poskim, permitted the use of ordinary electric shavers based on the fact
that there is a thin separation of a screen between the blade and the skin, and
it therefore cannot achieve total destruction like a razor.
It is quite possible
that the difference of opinion mentioned above is dependent on two different
ways of defining
— destruction. Perhaps, the
Chofetz Chaim maintained that once a hair is cut shorter than that which can
be gripped by a fingernail, it is too small to be considered a piece of hair,
and is therefore considered to be destroyed (i.e., removed entirely). Therefore,
he prohibits shavers, since the way they function fits this definition of
destruction, (in addition to the fact that they are normally used for shaving).
Those who permit shavers due to the separation of the screen, maintain that
destruction is only achieved if it cuts the hair off entirely at skin
level, just as a razor does. Therefore, since there is a minor separation, it
does not constitute
If a person were to use a razor after using a shaver, it would still have what
to cut, so to speak, and would offer a cleaner and closer shave.
Alternatively, it is
possible that the Chofetz Chaim’s opinion was in accordance with the more
lenient view of ‘destruction’, but he maintained that as long as the hair cannot
be felt when touching one’s face, the hair is considered destroyed. On the other
hand, those who permit shavers maintain that since some hair (i.e. stubble) does
remain even after shaving, it is significant enough to preclude it from being
There are some
poskim who do not wish to rely on the lenient opinion, even if we consider
destruction to be achieved only if the hair is cut off completely at skin level.
This is because the stubble that remains after a shave is so minuscule, and it
is quite possible that although many hairs are slightly visible, others may have
been pulled into the shaver and cut off completely at skin level.
This precaution is solely dependent on determining how an electric shaver
actually works, and whether it is proven that a shaver can cut the hair off
completely at skin level.
Up until this point, we
interpreted the Gemara’s criterion of achieving
to the size of the hair that is left. This would imply that if a person was able
to maneuver a pair of scissors to achieve a closer cut in a way that it cuts off
the hair completely at skin level, it would be forbidden. It was based on this
understanding that the aforementioned dispute of the permissibility of using
electric shavers was based on.
However, there are a
number of indications from several Rishonim and earlier poskim,
that the violation of this Torah prohibition is not determined by the
size of the hair that is left, but by the instrument used.
Rav Moshe Feinstein
understood the aforementioned sugyah in accordance with this latter
approach. According to this approach, when the Gemara rules that an item
which both destroys and shaves is prohibited, and defined this item as being a
razor, it did not merely mention a razor as an example of an item that achieves
both of these requirements, but mentioned it in order to define which instrument
is forbidden by the Torah to use. The Gemara explains that when
the Torah forbade destroying and shaving one's beard, the Torah
was referring to a razor which achieves both of these functions, and not to
other instruments which are categorically permissible. It follows that even if
one manipulates scissors to enable it to achieve
it is still permitted, since the Torah did not forbid the end result, but
forbade the use of a specific instrument to achieve this result. What
categorizes an item as scissors, which is permitted, or as a razor, which is
forbidden, is the fact that a razor cuts using one blade, whereas scissors use
two blades to cut.
Based on this thesis,
Rav Moshe permitted the use of shavers since they function as scissors,
utilizing two blades to cut. The inner blade does not cut by itself, and must be
assisted by the outer screen of the shaver. The screen traps a hair within it,
and as the inner blade approaches it, the hair rubs along the side of the screen
and they both cut the hair simultaneously.
Although this was Rav
Moshe’s primary heter to permit the use of shavers, he had an additional
approach that followed a similar line of reasoning. He maintained that the only
type of instrument that is prohibited, is one that most people use when they
wish to achieve a close shave; all other instruments are permitted. Since most
non-Jews use razors when they desire a close shave, all other instruments are
therefore permitted. However, if for arguments sake, the general custom would
change and people would only use shavers even if they desired a very close cut,
razors would be permitted and shavers would be forbidden.
The Conclusion on Using Ordinary Electric
the Chazon Ish,
the Steipler Gaon, and many other poskim prohibited the use of all
electric shavers. Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, Rav Moshe Feinstein, and other
poskim permitted the use of ordinary electric shavers albeit for two
There are basically two types of
electric shavers that might pose a halachic problem even according to the
more lenient opinion discussed above that permits the use of ordinary electric
The entire preceding discussion
applies to ordinary shavers. However, the so-called “lift and cut” shavers are
problematic. According to the company that manufactures them, a lift and cut
shaver operates as follows. First, it lifts up the hair and pulls it into the
machine. Once the hair is in the machine, the inner blade cuts it by itself
closely to the skin, cutting it off completely at skin level, achieving a very
close shave. This presents two problems. Firstly, according to the first
opinion, mentioned above,
that permits ordinary shavers (i.e.
the opinion of Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin and several other poskim), the
heter is based on the fact that they do not cut off the hair completely at
skin level, since the screen acts as a separation. With regard to the lift and
cut shaver, however, it is quite possible that it does indeed remove the hair
completely at skin level. Additionally, Rav Moshe Feinstein’s heter was
based on the fact that a shaver operates just as scissors do; using two blades
to cut the hair (i.e. the inner blade and the outer screen). The lift and cut
shaver, according to the company, uses only one blade (i.e. the inner blade).
Thus, it functions like a razor, which according to Rav Moshe, would be
forbidden even if it does not cut off the hair entirely at skin level.
The “Lift-and-Cut” System (Source:
It is important to
mention that Rav Moshe Feinstein was very skeptical about permitting the use of
a lift and cut shaver when it was first shown to him in his later years. One
should bear in mind that the widespread heter to use electric shavers is
primarily because Rav Moshe, being the posek hador of the past
generation, permitted their use. Most poskim in Eretz Yisroel on
the other hand, forbade their use. Consequently, it is questionable how a person
who relies on Rav Moshe’s shitah with regard to shaving, can go ahead and
use a lift and cut shaver which Rav Moshe himself was skeptical about.
It should be noted that it is fairly
simple to remove the lifting mechanism from a lift and cut shaver, thereby
correcting the problem. Once it is removed, the shaver functions as an ordinary
Please click here
for our step by step do-it-yourself illustrated guide on how to remove Norelco
Lift and Cut 'lifters' on your own in 10 minutes or less!
The Terumas Hadeshen,
quoted by the Rema, maintains that when shaving with scissors, a person
should be extremely careful to either hold the bottom blade still, using only
the top blade to cut his hair, or to use scissors where the bottom blade is
incapable of cutting by itself. The reason for this is because extra precaution
should be taken to prevent mistakenly shaving solely with the bottom blade, even
a minute amount, since this is equivalent to using a razor.
There is a possibility
that in micro-screen foil shavers, the micro-screen foil itself has cutting
edges that can cut by themselves. This screen is comparable to the bottom blade
of scissors, since it touches one's skin. This might be problematic according to
the Terumas Hadeshen’s chumrah, requiring one to take the
necessary precautions to be certain that there is no possibility that the blade
touching one’s face will cut by itself.
In fact, the company
that manufactures the micro-screen foil shavers claims that the foil itself has
the ability to cut. The shaver is marketed as having cutting edges which are
twenty times thinner than a razor, and are very sharp. Their claim is that it is
actually the outer screen that does the cutting by itself at skin level, and the
inner mechanism just grinds the hair once it is already detached and inside the
shaver. If this is indeed the case, such a shaver would be no different than a
razor, since it uses one blade to cut the hair flush against the skin.
Therefore, one must ascertain that his shaver has a screen that is incapable of
cutting by itself.
Those who wish to be
stringent in deference to the opinion of the many poskim who maintained
that shavers are prohibited since they achieve both destruction and shaving,
which we discussed above, may use an ordinary trimmer. Most trimmers leave over
stubble that is minuscule, but can be gripped with a fingernail. Therefore,
destruction is not achieved even according to the most stringent opinion
A trimmer also contains
two blades that are used to cut. One blade is further out and is stationary,
while the other is set back a bit and moves. This increased separation of the
cutting mechanism is what causes the stubble to form. If the trimmer is turned
upside down and held on a slant, the blade that moves would be closer to one's
skin, and would produce a closer cut. In most instances, even if one were to
turn and slant the trimmer in this manner, it would still leave over significant
stubble that could be gripped by a fingernail. Thus, it would not be problematic
even according to the stricter definition of destruction mentioned above.
It is important to
mention that prior to using the trimmer in such a manner, one should first check
to see whether the moving blade is so sharp that it is capable of cutting the
hair by itself. This is because according to the first opinion mentioned above
that permits ordinary shavers, the heter is based on the fact that they
do not cut off the hair completely at skin level, since the screen acts as a
separation. If one were to slant the trimmer in such a way that the moving blade
is touching one’s face and is capable of cutting the hair by itself without the
assistance of the stationary blade, it may be problematic according to the
Terumas Hadeshen mentioned above.
Additionally, if the
moving blade is capable of cutting by itself, using such a trimmer in any
manner might pose a problem according to Rav Moshe Feinstein’s heter.
This is because according to Rav Moshe, in order for an electric shaver to be
permitted, it has to function like scissors which use two blades to cut, and not
like a razor, which uses one blade to cut.
There were some earlier
poskim who permitted the removal of facial hair by first using scissors
to cut it and then using a razor to destroy it. Their rationale was that when
scissors are used, the criterion of shaving –
is fulfilled, but the criterion
of destroying –
is not. When using the razor
afterwards, destruction –
is achieved, but the criterion
of shaving –
is not. (For the reasoning
behind this, see footnote.)
The Chasam Sofer
and the Nodah B’Yehudah both rejected this approach. The Chasam Sofer
is of the opinion that achieving destruction is dependent on whether the hair
can be lifted with a fingernail (i.e. the more stringent opinion mentioned
above). He therefore writes that no matter which instrument was used first, the
person would be liable. If when using scissors first, the person cut past the
permitted point, the prohibition has already been transgressed with the
scissors. If the scissors did not cut below that point, then it is the
subsequent cutting of the razor that achieves both
one is liable. The Nodah B’Yehudah is of the opinion that destruction is
not achieved until the hair is obliterated completely (i.e. the more lenient
opinion mentioned above). He contends with the earlier poskim based upon
the fact that the scissors did not achieve destruction as long as there is still
something left for the razor to cut. Therefore, although the hair was shortened
by the scissors, using a razor afterwards would transgress the issur, for
the razor would actually be destroying the hair.
Shaving every Day
We discussed earlier that there are
poskim who rely on the Nodah B’Yehudah and those who follow the
lenient definition of destruction (i.e. destruction is only achieved if the hair
is removed entirely at skin level) and permit the use of ordinary shavers (since
there is the separation of a screen and the hair is not destroyed completely).
However, what is
relevant to our discussion is as follows. According to the Chasam Sofer
and those who follow the stricter definition of destruction (i.e. destruction is
achieved once the hair cannot be lifted even slightly by placing a fingernail
under it –
if the hair is shorter than that amount prior to shaving, it no longer meets the
criterion of destroying or shaving since the hair is so short that it is not
classified as hair to begin with. This may be a solution for a person who wants
to use an electric shaver, but still wishes to adhere to the stricter opinions.
If a person were to shave every day before his hair has a chance to grow and
reach the aforementioned length, then even according to the more stringent
opinion, there is no prohibition to shave with an electric shaver, since the
hair that one is shaving is not classified as hair.
However, this would not resolve the
initial problem, because the first time that one shaves, he would be destroying
and shaving hair that meets the prescribed measurement. This, too, can be
avoided if one uses shaving cream the first time, thus permissibly destroying
the hair. He may then continue to shave every day. By shaving every day, he
ensures that the hair never reaches the prescribed length, in which case he
would have to start this process once again (e.g. after sefirah, the
three weeks, and perhaps even after a two-day Yom Tov).
It is important to
mention that those who are interested in adhering to the stricter opinion and
follow this method, must be careful when shaving every day not to miss any hair.
If a hair is missed, then when one shaves the next day, the missed hair would
reach the prescribed amount and will be destroyed by shaving. Additionally, one
would have to shave every single day, for otherwise it would defeat the entire
purpose, and there would be no adherence to the more stringent opinion.
The entire preceding discussion should only be taken
into account for those who have been following the lenient view that permits
electric shavers, and wish to continue doing so, but at the same time want to be
machmir in accordance with the stringent opinion. Those who are
accustomed to refrain from using electric shavers altogether, should not rely on
this option, since he may inadvertently overlook a hair or miss a day.
Additional Possible Prohibitions To Remove One's Beard
לא ילבש גבר שמלת אשה
an Act that Results in a Resemblance to the Appearance of a Woman
There are some
poskim who prohibit the removal of one’s entire beard in any fashion. They
maintain that since one of the distinguishing characteristics between a man and
a woman is the beard, its removal is a violation of the Torah prohibition
forbidding a man to do an action that causes him to resemble the appearance of a
woman. (As an aside, please note that the reverse is also prohibited).
However, many poskim
maintain that a man who removes his facial hair does not violate this
prohibition. This is because an act that is very common among men and women
alike is not prohibited. Therefore, since shaving is a very common practice
amongst men, it is not forbidden because of
Additionally, Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that this prohibition only applies in
an instance where women perform a certain action to beautify their appearance
(i.e. something that is only done by women). However, where it is natural for a
woman to appear in a certain way, requiring no action to achieve that result, a
man is not forbidden to perform an action with the intention of achieving that
desired result. It follows, that since it is natural for a woman to be lacking
in facial hair, a man does not transgress this prohibition by removing his
It was mentioned above,
that the Rambam maintained that the reason why the Torah forbade
the removal of one’s beard is because this was the custom of many gentile
priests. The Taz explains that in instances where there are heteirim
with regard to chukos ho'akum, according to the Rambam it would be
permitted. The Minchas Chinuch questions this rationale, for if this were
the case, it should become permitted entirely
(i.e. even with a razor)
if the practice of
gentile priests would change and they would start to grow beards.
disagree with the Minchas Chinuch’s assumption of the Taz’s logic,
and maintain that even according to the Taz's understanding of the
Rambam, it would still be prohibited to remove one's beard (i.e. in a
prohibited manner), irrespective of the local custom. This is because once the
Torah prohibited a certain action, we do not have the authority to
determine the reason for the prohibition and do away with the prohibition
entirely, based on the fact that the reason no longer exists.
It is interesting to
note that the Chasam Sofer traces the present day custom of being
clean-shaven, back to the eleventh century when there was a Polish king who was
incapable of growing a beard. In order to make his deficiency less noticeable,
he decreed that all his subjects remove their beards. Once this occurred, many
gentiles followed suit. Indeed, it was during that era that many Jews also
removed their beards to protect themselves from the crusaders. For generations
prior to this historical turning point, Jews and non-Jews alike grew beards.
There are some
poskim who maintain that the removal of one’s beard is also a violation of
the prohibition of
ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו.
However, in light of what was just explained, the Chasam Sofer maintains
that one does not violate this additional prohibition nowadays. Since shaving
has become a common practice among all people, it no longer serves as a
distinction between Yiddin and goyim.
אל תטוש תורת אמך
From the Mesorah of Yiddishkeit
maintain that shaving violates that which is written not to deviate from the
mesorah of Yiddishkeit. However, together with what was previously
stated, one might suggest that one is not considered to have deviated from the
mesorah of Yiddishkeit by shaving, since for generations many
Yiddin have been accustomed to remove their beards.
The Torah forbids one to round the
corners of his head.
This prohibition forbids a man to remove
the hair that is found by his temple.
The exact starting
point of the
is found by drawing an
imaginary diagonal line connecting the hairline above the forehead (see diagram
and the hairline behind the ears.
Some people have a raised hairline above their forehead (see diagram
below). Some poskim maintain that all people should be stringent and
treat the area illustrated in diagram
one’s actual hairline is a bit lower.
The diagonal line extends to the hairline behind the ears. Many poskim
maintain that it extends to the highest point of the hairline, which is above
the center of the ear before it begins to slope downwards.
Some have an added stringency to draw the imaginary line depicting the starting
point of the
הראש in a
curved manner (see diagram
below), thus extending the
upwards a bit.
All hair above this line is not considered
while the hair below this line is considered
ספר לשכנו תדרשו ח"א דף ש)
picture is intended to demonstrate the starting point of
and not until where it extends downwards.
When the Torah
prohibits removing the hair on the corners of one's head, it uses the
terminology, “Do not round.” This is because the
as identified by the imaginary line mentioned above, curves around the head.
extends downwards, up until the area where the
begins. The Shulchan Aruch rules that all hair growing above the lower
jawbone should be treated as פאות
There is a discussion among the poskim as to exactly where this point is.
Some poskim explain that if one were to open his mouth very wide, he
would feel a bone protruding from his face, towards the lower part of his ear.
The entire area above this point should be treated as
Some poskim are more stringent and extend the shiur downward a
bit, up until the earlobe (the soft piece of skin that is on the bottom of the
ear). Care should be taken not to remove the sideburns that grow within the area
Although we mentioned
above that it is forbidden to cut off one's beard closely to the skin in many
different manners, this does not equally apply to the removal of the
It is only permitted to trim the
הראש at a
bit of a distance from the skin. Some poskim maintain that the length of
each hair should not be shorter than
לכוף ראשו לעקרו
amount that enables a person to fold the hair over to its root.
Others are more lenient and maintain that the shiur is a bit shorter, and
that the remaining hair must be long enough to be gripped by one's fingers.
If an electric hair remover is being used, one should not cut the hair closer
than the #2 blade permits, so that he can adhere to even the stringent
measurement mentioned above.
Many barbers attempt to
cut the hair growing on top of the ear either with scissors or with a very close
trimmer, and shave that area against the ear. This should not be done, since the
is being cut very closely to the skin, which is forbidden for the area that is
It is forbidden to
pluck out the hair from the
whether by means of a tweezers or with one's fingers. (See footnotes for
differing opinions among the Rishonim concerning the amount of hairs to
which this halacha applies.)
Some poskim suggest that combing the
may be halachically problematic. This is because there is a strong
possibility that hairs will be plucked out in the process.
However, many poskim disagree and maintain that although plucking the
hair is forbidden, nevertheless, combing the
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