Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi, Los Angeles, CA

The Right Way to Shave during Sefirah

by | Apr 23, 2009 | 17 comments

Sign seen in Shul:

This Shul adheres to the tenets of Shulchon Aruch. Anyone who davens for the amud in this Shul must also adhere to Shulchon Aruch. Therefore we do not permit those who shave during Sefirah to lead the congregation in Tefillah.

Poskim (those commonly relied upon to elucidate Shulchon Aruch) permit the following to shave:

  • One who will face repercussions at work
  • A Chosson during Sheva berachos
  • Any time one would be allowed to shave during the 12 month mourning period for a parent (Rav Soloveitchik)
  • On Friday, Lekovod Shabbos, for one who regularly shaves more than once a week (Rav Henoch Leibowitz based on the Chasam Sofer).
  • A father or a Sandak on the day of the bris and the preceding afternoon
  • According to the Minhag Ashkenazi until Rosh Chodesh Iyar, on Lag B’omer, the afternoon preceding Lag B’omer and the three days before Shavous.
  • According to the minhag Sefardi after Lag B’Omer
  • On Friday when Rosh Chodesh Iyar is Shabbos according to both Minhagim such as this year
  • Women cannot get a haircut but may remove all other hair
  • For a first date (Yeshiva Staten Island)
  • A Chosson for his Aufruf (Noda BeYehudah, quoted by Shaarei Teshuvah)
  • Whenever one would be allowed on Chol Hamoed :
  • One who gets out of jail
  • One who was released from cherem
  • One who was released from a vow not to shave
  • One who arrived from certain types of trips
  • A child under bar/bas mitzvah
  • A moustache that interferes with eating

Although I am not necessarily promoting all the above sanctions, I don’t believe that this would be considered ‘going against the Shulchon Aruch.

Any more? Please comment!

UPDATE 4/28/09: Some permit shaving on Yom Hatzmaut (Israel Independence Day). see here for full discussion.

By Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.


  1. Anon

    It is my understanding that one may also shave when requested by one’s spouse, in the interest of shalom bais.

  2. Chaim

    The name of your blog is “doing it right” and therefore i would like to comment on a few of the Heiteirim that you bought down.

    There is a famous story about a person who wanted a Heiter to shave in order to look presentable for a job interview. When asked, Reb Moshe Feinstein told him that although a Heiter can be found, he would advise him against it because it’s against the Shulchon Aruch. As it turned out, the person showed up for the interview clean shaven and was turned down for the job because: “if you find ways around your own religion, I don’t trust you to run my business honestly.” So I think that if a person is truly G-d fearing, he shouldn’t fare repercussions at work.

    As far as the Heiteirim you quoted from Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Henoch Leibowitz based on the Chasam Sofer, they are just that! HEITEIRIM! And that seems to be exactly what the purpose of the sign hanging up. If you are the type of person who cannot bear to properly care about Klal Ysroel (i.e. properly mourn for a tragedy that happened to Klal Ysroel) we respectfully ask that you do not be our Shliach Tzibur (i.e. someone who is meant to convey to G-d the Tefilos for the Klal)

    It is doubtful that the shul’s sign was referring to someone who is clean shaven because he follows Minhag Ashkenazi or Minhag Sefardi, but rather to someone who shaves during the period from Rosh Chodesh Iyar till Lag B’omer, where according to both Minhagim it is forbidden according to the tenets of Shulchon Aruch. (Or someone who uses any of the above mentioned Heiteirim during the period when according to his Minhag he is forbidden from shaving.)

    Also a woman would probably be removed from any orthodox congregation she would try to lead.

    I only commented on what I felt was an article whose purpose might have been to inform us about various Heiteirim but along the way made fun of a shul who is trying to make sure it’s members prayers are properly conveyed to our G-d.
    Please correct me if I was wrong.

  3. nosson

    Rav Moshe says its mutar in a teshuva your source – a hearsay story. Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Henoch hold one should shave lekovod Shabbos.
    Why do you look at it as beating up on the shul – perhaps the shul is beating up on the ehrliche yidden who have legitimate reasons to shave?

  4. Anon

    Chaim, how sad it would be if s person’s caring about Klal Yisroel came down to whether or not he used a heiteir to shave. To so strictly interpret our laws is not what the Rabbeim intended.

  5. Theta

    Chaim, I reread the blog but saw no indication that it made fun of the shul’s sign, only provide information on what is a considered acceptable to those who wish to follow these Rabbeim. And, rest assured, regardless of who leads the davening, the prayers of the congregation will be conveyed to G-d.

  6. reb chipper

    How strange that we have as many as 49 days each year during which we mourn the deaths of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva, an event from hundreds of years ago, yet we only have one unofficial day allotted to remember the six million lives lost in the Holocaust, an event from just 70 years ago.
    Does anyone know who the students of Rabbi Akiva were? Does anyone know any of their names? Know anyone related to any of them? Actually related, not the “we are all related” explanation. We know many of the names of those killed in the Holocaust. Nearly all of us had relatives who perished. And while every life is precious, how do you compare 24,000 to six million? Yet we spend so much more time and effort mourning those students. What do we do for the Holocaust? One day a year we get together in parks for rallies and chant “never again.” And a museum in every city. I find this all to be very strange.

  7. jacob gutterman

    What you mean, Minhag Staten Island? A minhad must be traced back for doros until Vermasia. There no such thing as a new minhag

  8. Alex

    On Chol hamoed the Issur is because of Kavod Hamoed, during sefira we are acting like an Aveil in his first twelve months. The Heteirim may not be interchangeable.

    Also, It is permitted and advisable to shave before having certain medical procedures done.

    And Reb Chaim – since when is a heiter a bad thing. When it comes from the proper place it is respected – Koch Deheteira Adif.

  9. th

    Alex – the Biur Halacha (493) writes that one who can take a haircut on Chol HaMoed can take one during Sefira. This does not mean (and I did not write) that one who can shave during Sefira can shave during chol hamoed.

  10. islander

    The reasoning of Staten Island is that its like a kal vchomer from work because even though girls know you dont shave because of sefira still 1st impressiions count and you must look good and fter the 1st date then no more reason to matir

  11. TheTa

    Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis wrote that “Our Sages reveal that they all died for the same reason: they did not honor each other properly (Yevamos 62b). Their failure to honor their colleagues prevented them from appreciating words of Torah said by others.” Let’s hope we do not repeat that mistake.

  12. anon

    Reb Chipper
    Maybe the answer is the question? The talmedi Rebbi Akiva had noone to mourn them so it becomes klal yisroels job. Also we dont just make mourning periods for tragedy rather the during this time we are supposed to apply the reason of this tragedy to ourselves (same with tishe bav)but the holocaust we dont know the reason why it happened so we wouldnt know what lesson to apply to ourselves. If you know why it happened we would appreciate the enlightment.(obviously it is Hashem will)

  13. Reb Chipper

    Anon, yes, I do indeed know what happened in the Holocaust. It is in all the history books, I am surprised you missed it. You can Google it. Do we have to have an existential explanation before we can mourn the killing of six million Jews? Maybe that’s part of the explanation.

  14. Elisha

    Anyone who bases his arguments or Hashkafos Hachaim on dubious stories should rethink most of what he believes. We have a Torah and a Halacha and from there we get our Hashkafos not from stupid (made up) stories about R. Moshe.

  15. mtjster

    Rav Ovadia says women are allowed to take haircuts during the seferah, please keep all denominations in mind when posting these blogs

  16. zach

    Rav Soloveitchik said that shaving is permissible on sefirah; it is only haircutting that is prohibited. Many people follow RYBS on this. The sign in the shul is frankly insulting and only serves to perpetuate a “you’re not a good enough Yid” attitude.

  17. semour

    1st date ?????? A real Torah girl would drop him cold because hes shvach and wants to impress this MO girl


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