"Shaving in Honor of Shabbat During the Omer"

        Based on a shiur by Harav Aharon Lichtenstein

                 Summarized by Yair Yaniv
         Translated and adapted by Rav Eliezer Kwass

	Our earliest sources make no mention of a ban on haircuts
during Sefirat ha-Omer (the days between Pesach and Shavuot).
The Ritz Giat, for example, refers only to marriage:

"All of Israel is accustomed to not marry between Pesach and
Shavuot.  This is because of mourning, not because of any
prohibition...[The mourning is restricted to not] marrying
("nisuin"), for the main joy is at the bridal canopy ("chuppa")
and the marriage itself, but there is no restriction on "erusin"
and "kiddushin" (legal engagement)...  So ruled the Geonim."

	The custom to refrain from having a haircut ("tisporet")
during the Omer appears in the Tur (OC 493); according to the
Beit Yosef, its source is Rav Yehoshua ibn Shuib's "Derasha for
the First Day of Pesach."

	In order to deal with our question, whether one can shave
before Shabbat during this period, we must relate to three
different issues:
1. Does "tisporet" including shaving, or just cutting the hair
on one's head?
2. Is this custom part of the existing laws of mourning, and, if
so, which stage of mourning?
3. Does the obligation of honoring Shabbat override the custom
forbidding tisporet.


	We find (Ta'anit 15b) a prohibition against "tisporet" in
the rules for the participants in the ma'amad (shifts of
Israelites who made a pilgrimage to the Temple to represent the
nation during the communal sacrifices).  Though the parameters
of the prohibition are not stated here, some of the sources
regarding laws of mourning relate directly to this issue.

	Masekhet Semachot (7:11) reads: "What is the rule of
"tisporet?"  Cutting all hair is forbidden - the head, the
mustache, the beard and all other hair."  In contrast, the
gemara (Mo'ed Katan 24a) derives the prohibition from Vayikra
10:6: "You (Aharon and his remaining sons after the deaths of
Nadav and Avihu) should not let your hair grow long [as normal
mourners do]."  Ostensibly this refers only to cutting the hair
on the head.

	The Rambam rules (Hilkhot Evel 5:2):

"How do we know that a mourner is prohibited from 'tisporet?'
The sons of Aharon were commanded "Do not let your hair grow
long" - implying that any other mourner is prohibited from
cutting his hair and must let it grow wild.  Just as the mourner
is prohibited from cutting the hair of his head, so too is he
prohibited from cutting the hair of his beard and all other
	The Rambam implies that the basic prohibition of hair-
cutting only applies to the head, based on the verse, while
shaving is merely an extention of that prohibition.


	Aside from the semantic question of defining the specific
parameters of tisporet, we must discuss the nature of the custom
of refraining from haircuts during the Omer.  It is most likely
not an independent one, but is rather part and parcel of the
laws of mourning which are appropriate to this time period.

	There are different levels of mourning: the seven-day
(shiva), thirty-day (sheloshim), and twelve-month periods.  It
seems obvious that the level of mourning in effect during the
Omer is parallel to that of the twelve-month period, for all the
prohibitions included in the custom - festive gatherings,
marriage, and hair cutting - are those that extend beyond the
thirty day period.  On the other hand, none of the prohibitions
that last only thirty days are included in the custom.

	During the twelve-month period, both getting a haircut and
shaving are prohibited, but only "until one's friends scold him
[to tell him that his hair is too long]" ("ad she-yig'aru bo
chaveirav": Moed Katan 22b; Rambam Hilkhot Evel 6:3).

	Someone who goes a day or two without shaving would
certainly deserve a reminder from his friends to shave.
However, the Acharonim argue about whether one can cut his hair
only when his friends ACTUALLY scold him, or when the TIME for
scolding arrives, regardless of whether anyone did so.  If we
accepted the second opinion, there would be room to permit one
who reached that stage - usually within a very few days,
definitely after a week - to shave.

	The Ramban, in his extensive discussion in Torat Ha-adam
about whether the laws of mourning are biblical or rabbinic in
origin, proposes a distinction between different types of
prohibitions.  Those that bar the mourner from indulging in
luxuries are Torah laws, while those that thrust upon him
distinctly uncomfortable, substandard conditions are
rabbinically mandated.  So, for example, washing in hot water is
considered a luxury and is biblically prohibited, but not
washing at all causes discomfort and is rabbinically prohibited.

	It is possible, at least according to one opinion in the
Rishonim, to infer that the same is true for "tisporet."  The
Rishonim debate whether a mourner can trim his mustache if it
interferes with eating: The Ramban permits it even during the
first seven days of mourning, whereas the Ra'avad prohibits it
all thirty days.  The Ritz Giat (who is followed by the Shulchan
Arukh YD 390:1) takes a middle approach; during the first seven
days it is prohibited, but afterwards it is permitted.

	The Ramban and the Ra'avad are clear: they disagree
whether the need for eating is a legitimate cause for permitting
trimming one's mustache during mourning.  The Ritz Giat's hybrid
opinion, distinguishing between the seven-day and the thirty-day
periods, needs explanation.  He might, like the Ramban in Torat
Ha-adam, distinguish between shiva, when discomfort is mandated,
and sheloshim when only luxuries are prohibited.  During the
first seven days he must let his mustache grow even if it
interferes with eating; afterwards only hair-cutting in general
is prohibited, but not that which causes actual discomfort.

	One might apply the Ritz Giat's distinction to our issue
and permit shaving without resorting to the rule of "ge'ara"
(scolding). One who shaves regularly does not view his shaving
as a luxury, to look his best; he feels uncomfortable and
unkempt if he does not shave for a few days.  Therefore, there
is no reason to distinguish between trimming a mustache, the
case he spoke about, and shaving a beard.  We may distinguish,
though, based on the Rambam, between haircuts, which are the
basic prohibition, and the others, which are extensions thereof.
When the Rishonim spoke about "giluach," they had trimming a
beard in mind.  Trimming a beard is similar to a haircut; it is
done to look good, not to avoid looking ugly or feeling
uncomfortable.  Based on the Ritz Giat, it would be permitted to
shave once every several days, for the mourning of the Omer is
certainly not on the level of the shiva.

	If shaving, for a clean-shaven man, is analogous to
trimmimg a mustache that gets in the way of eating, then even
during "sheloshim" one could permit shaving every few days.
This is certainly not the prevalent custom (although I know of a
case where Ha-gaon Rav Moshe Soloveitchik z"tl ruled leniently -
though I do not know what rationale he relied upon - that a
lawyer could shave for his livelihood during sheloshim).  With
regards to the twelve-month period, though, which is less
stringent, one could rely on this leniency.


	The above two reasons,
a) having reached the situation where people would tell the
mourner to cut his hair and
b) discomfort being a feature only of shiva and not of the
periods which follow, permit shaving during the week, once every
few days.  Before Shabbat, though, there are additional reasons
to be lenient, maybe even to REQUIRE shaving for one who is
accustomed to shave daily.

	Honoring ("kevod") Shabbat includes preparing oneself
through washing and wearing clean clothing.  Nowadays, for
people who shave daily, shaving is a regular part of pre-Shabbat
preparations.  The gemara speaks of a case where a prohibition
against shaving clashes with kevod Shabbat (Ta'anit 15b): "The
men of the 'mishmar' (kohanim-priests on rotation for Temple
service) and the men of the 'ma'amad' (as explained above) are
forbidden to cut hair and to wash clothes, but on Thursday they
are permitted because of kevod Shabbat."

	One might reject this source as irrelevant to our
discussion by pointing out that the prohibition of hair cutting
for the men of the mishmar and the ma'amad is not connected to
mourning, but was made in order to insure that they shave
earlier, similar to the prohibition of shaving during chol ha-
mo'ed (Ta'anit 17a).

	The gemara on Ta'anit 26b, though, is certainly relevant:
"During the week on which Tisha Be-av falls, it is prohibited to
cut hair and to wash clothes, but it permitted on Thursday for
kevod Shabbat."

	The commentary ascribed to Rashi comments that if Tisha
Be-av falls out on Shabbat one can wash on Thursday.  Here,
breaking mourning is explicitly permitted because of kevod

	Tosafot's position (Ta'anit 30a s.v. Ve-tarvayhu le-kula)
is more extreme than Rashi's.  They permit washing and cutting
hair on Thursday even if Tisha Be-av comes out on Thursday -
even though one could do all these preparations on erev Shabbat!
Because of the "burden of Shabbat preparations one should not
wait until erev Shabbat."  Although the Beit Yosef was astounded
by this radical opinion and therefore ascribed it to a mistaken
student, the fact that the same comment appears in Tosafot Ha-
rosh makes his doubts implausible.  Even if one does not go as
far as the Tosafot, permitting mourning prohibitions on Tisha
Be-av itself because of kevod Shabbat, there is certainly firm
basis to permit shaving during the Omer because of kevod
	True, the Or Zarua writes that only washing clothes was
permitted because of kevod Shabbat, but not cutting hair.
However, the Magen Avraham explains that his reasoning is that
one washes clothes every week but does not cut one's hair every
week.  If that is the case, then in a situation where one does
shave every week, even the Or Zarua would permit shaving for
kevod Shabbat.
	The mourning customs of the Omer are much more lenient
than those of the week of Tisha Be-av.
There are two reasons to permit those who shave daily to shave
during the Omer on a normal weekday:

1. After several days one reaches the level of "ge'ara," where
friends would scold him because he looks unpresentable
(according to those who say that one does not have to actually
be told by people).
2. The level of not shaving which causes discomfort and looks
undignified is mandated only during shiva, but probably not
during sheloshim and certainly not during the twelve-month
period that the Omer parallels (Ritz Giat).

	Hence, since kevod Shabbat takes precedence over mourning
customs of the Omer (based on Ta'anit 26b), it is not only
permissible, but obligatory to shave before Shabbat.

This article originally appeared in Daf Kesher #133, vol. 2,
pp. 54-56, Yom Yerushalayim 5748.
This article was not reviewed by Harav Lichtenstein.


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