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Unread 01-20-2002, 12:15 AM   #1
rebyoel
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Post The Beard

From the onset of Chassidism, and especially amongst Chabad Chassidim, there has always been an emphasis placed on maintaining a full untrimmed beard.

The purpose of this essay is to explain the reasons and rationale that lie behind the wearing of a beard. These include the many benefits and blessings that one receives for keeping one’s beard. There are those, who are unaware of the importance of the beard and this has led some to begin trimming their beard, tearing out the hair root, or in some instances, shaving.

I. The Halachic Prohibitions

There are many famous Halachic issues involved in removing a beard. The Sefer Hadras Panim Zakan brings literally hundreds of Poskim [Halachic authorities] that discuss these issues. It is not possible to present all the opinions on this subject, so we will focus on the opinion of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek , which is the authoritative opinion as far as Lubavitcher Chassidim are concerned. The Tzemach Tzedek did not just regard the discussion about wearing beards as an academic matter, in fact, he waged many battles for its observance. The Russian Czar Nikolai I wanted to institute a policy making it mandatory for all Jews to shave. The Tzemach Tzedek exerted himself and through Mesiras Nefesh [self-sacrifice] was able to get this decree revoked.

A summary of the Tzemach Tzedek’s opinion follows:

A. It is forbidden to remove the beard through scissors, (even with those that do not resemble a razor) or through depilatories (hair removal through medicine). This is due to the law of Payos Hazakain, “Neither shall you mar the corners of your beard.”

B. Those who remove their beards transgress the Torah law of, “A man shall not wear the garment of a woman.” Some authorities hold that this brings with it a punishment of Malkos (lashing). This reason applies even to those who cut their beard with a scissors.

C. Removing the beard without a razor can lead one to remove the beard with a razor – leading to a transgression of Torah law. Furthermore, using a scissors to cut the beard violates the reason that underlies the prohibition (Taam Hamitzvah ).

D. The hairs of the beard contain a high degree of holiness as is taught in Tanach and the words of the Rabbis.

E. The Rabbis from the time of the receiving of the Torah were accustomed not to remove their beards

F. There is a basis to permit the removal of hair that is under the throat (totally out of the area of the “corners”) but due to the fact that we do not know the exact place of the Payos (corners), we should be strict in this matter.

The Rebbe disapproved of the practice of trimming the beard, and says that the Tzemach Tzedek himself requires one to refrain from trimming.

In regard to pulling out the hairs of the beard, the Arizal writes that, it is strictly prohibited to pull or uproot even one of the hairs anywhere on the beard, because they are “pipes for a divine flow.” (They are a path by which the Divine blessings and revelations are channeled to a person.)

II. The Benefits

Maintaining a beard carries with it great advantages, as the Tzemach Tzedek writes: “Therefore, he who doesn’t shave his beard or touch it with metal at all, awakens the Yud Gimel Tikkunei Dikna.” (This refers to a very high spiritual level as is known to those well versed in Kabbala and Chassidus.)

If it seems that wearing a beard relates only to abstract spiritual levels, the following are two letters that the Rebbe wrote addressing this subject:

“Without quoting here what it says in the Inner part of Torah and in the holy Zohar and in many Seforim, that the hairs of the beard are the idea of Yud Gimel Tikkunei Dikna; and how they elicit success in learning Torah and fulfilling Mitzvos, behold everyone agrees that the beard is a part of the Tzelem Elokim (G-dly image) and removing the beard, even according to those who permit it in certain ways, nevertheless, [this person] lacks the G-dly image.”

“In regard to the idea of growing one’s beard, it is simple that according to all opinions there is an important point in it, and all the differing opinions are whether to permit [the removal of the beard] when one must [remove it] so to speak, and whether this is a Rabbinical or Torah prohibition. But, as mentioned above, it is simple in the revealed part of Torah, and specifically and strongly in the Inner part of Torah, that in the Tikkunei Dikna (as they are called in Zohar and Kabbala Seforim, which are accepted by all Jews with the full strength of the Oral Torah) there is a very high level of holiness, and the attribute of Hashem is Midda K’negged Midda [measure for measure]. A measure [the beard hair] of man [below] elicits the same measure from above, so to speak. "

As can be seen from the above letters, the hairs of the beard are the receptacle for Divine blessing in one’s day-to-day life.

Furthermore, even those who disagree with the Tzemach Tzedek in this matter, concur that a beard is a sign of Yiras Shamayim [fear of Heaven]. The Rebbe writes in a letter, expressing his amazement that someone without a beard should be involved in making Tefillin because the one who wears the Tefillin is dependent on the Yiras Shamayim of the one who fashioned them.

There is a story told that a man once came to one of the Chabad Rabbeim and asked him: “Why are Chabad Chassidim so careful not to touch their beards, but are not as scrupulous when it comes to Loshon Hora [evil talk]?”

The Rebbe answered him, “To speak Loshon Hora doesn’t require a great deal of contemplation – it comes before one even realizes what he is saying. However to touch one’s beard, a person has to make a conscious decision to act."

In another letter the Rebbe writes: a certain man came to him with complaints about wearing a beard. The Rebbe asked him, “Why is it that when someone conjures up an image of Moshe Rabbeinu or Aharon Hakohen, whether Jewish or not, they picture them with a big beard?”

The man answered that not only when he imagines Moshe Rabbeinu but even when he thinks about people who kept Torah and Mitzvos throughout the generations, he imagines them with a full untouched beard.

III. Conclusion

It seems clear that that there are many Halachic reasons to refrain from shaving or trimming one’s beard. There are many blessings that are elicited through keeping a beard, both in a material and spiritual sense. The choice seems obvious...

Credits: Torah Thoughts & Essays Yeshiva Gedola Lubavitch & Chabad Of New Haven
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Unread 08-28-2002, 01:45 PM   #2
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I have a friend who would love to grow a full beard, but his wife does not see the point. While your post is excellent, is there a book that you can point me to with more information and sources? He would like to speak from his heart with her about it, but of course that requires more data.
Thanks, k'siva v'chasima tova,
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Unread 08-28-2002, 01:55 PM   #3
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There is big thick sefer on that subject: Hadras Ponim Zakan from Rabbi Wiener.
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Unread 08-28-2002, 02:10 PM   #4
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Nice post r' yoel. If someone can please clarify a bit more clearly reason A)Does the Z..Z THAT MISPARAYIM SHELOH CEIN TA'AR IS OSSUR MIDORAYSAH? (trimming the beard with scissors)I ask since to be that would be a big chiddush, since if you look in all communities (even lubavitch)trimming the beard though frowned upon in some places is surely not considered an issur.Reason B) needs clarification (today it surely is not beeged isho to shave, but it could be that it does not change the din)Reason C)just leho'ir it sounds that even if you were allowed to shave with scissors or similar, there is a chashash that people will come to shave with a razor...the problem is that we cannot be mesaken our own issur derabonon. Also if the taam hamitzvoh will asser shaving without a razor, then wearing a wig for a woman should also be ossur since lem'aseh we see something that looks like hair to us.Reason F ) is the RAmoh in shulchan oruch

Last edited by pretzel999; 10-29-2002 at 01:14 PM.
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Unread 10-29-2002, 01:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by pretzel999
Nice post r' yoel. If someone can please clarify a bit more clearly reason A)Does the Z..Z THAT MISPARAYIM SHELOH CEIN TA'AR IS OSSUR MIDORAYSAH? (trimming the beard with scissors)I ask since to be that would be a big chiddush, since if you look in all communities (even lubavitch)trimming the beard though frowned upon in some places is surely not considered an issur.Reason B) needs clarification (today it surely is not beeged isho to shave, but it could be that it does not change the din)Reason C)just leho'ir it sounds that even if you were allowed to shave with scissors or similar, there is a chashash that people will come to shave with a razor...the problem is that we cannot be mesaken our own issur derabonon. Also if the taam hamitzvoh will asser shaving without a razor, then wearing a wig for a woman should also be ossur since lem'aseh we see something that looks like hair to us.Reason F ) is the RAmoh in shulchan oruch
I wonder if anyone has some response/explanations to add
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Unread 04-04-2003, 12:57 PM   #6
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A member of Anash related:

When I was a young bachur I became close to Chabad and the Rebbe. This was around 5723 (1963). At that time, my father – who was not a Lubavitcher – asked me to remove my beard for that is what everybody did at that time, even among the most chareidi Jews. Everybody that is, except Chabad.

Since I didn’t want to quarrel with my father, I said that I would do it only if I was instructed or requested by the Rebbe to do so.

I went to yechidus with my father after 12 Tamuz. A number of amazing things were said by the Rebbe in that yechidus. When my father asked the Rebbe to tell me to shave, the Rebbe told him that an American bachur had to make decisions on his own and not be forced into doing what he didn’t want to do.

After thinking briefly the Rebbe asked my father, “How do you think Moshe Rabeinu looked – with a beard or without?”

My father immediately responded that there were no shavers in those days.

The Rebbe paused and then said, “When I was in France I saw many statues of previous times. Some of the statues depicted people of Biblical times, some of whom had beards while others didn’t. So you see that even if they didn’t have shavers, they still removed beards …”

Among other things, the Rebbe hinted that a Jew ought to have a beard and our ancestors had beards, which is the way it’s supposed to be, as opposed to a gentile.
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Unread 04-07-2003, 07:33 PM   #7
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a kabbalistic view

http://thirtysevenbooks.com/AriMitzvot/Hair.1.htm
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Unread 05-10-2003, 05:13 PM   #8
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The Zohar states: "Woe to him who dares disturb his beard in any manner." (Part III 130b)

Those who remove their beards thereby exhibit signs of slowly slipping away from Torah Judaim. (Responsa Tirosh Veyitzhor bo 68. in the name of Malbim: Chofetz Chayim in Tiferes Adom, ch. 5; Responsa Divrei Malchiel part V. no. 61. See H.P.Z. part II, ch. 4, note 4.

The beard is conductive to Yiras-Shomayim (fear of Hashem). (qtd. in sefer Lekutei Halochos [by Rav Nachman of Breslav] Laws of the beard.)

It is a great embaressment to see gentiles who grow beards, while Jews, who are commanded by Hashem to do so, do not. (Oruch HaShulchan 151:10)
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Unread 05-29-2003, 10:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by stamayid
Shaving is not a kulah it is dina diGemara!
See the approbations to Hadras Panim Zaken, by R. Weiner. Nevermind the pneem.
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Unread 05-30-2003, 01:34 AM   #10
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Shaving needs a thread of its own, thx R'Lazer.
Just my two cents....
Though shaving is frowned upon by many gedolei yisroel there are a couple of issues involved
A)Is it permissable? With an electric shaver? with depilatory products?
B)Trimming....
It should be noted that many, many frum jews shaved going back a couple of generations. People think that before the war Poland which was chasidish was different than today, but lema'aseh a big percentage of pre-war jews shaved in Poland! In Germany it was uncommon to have a beard....it is not easy to indict so many jews as going against halachah
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Unread 05-30-2003, 12:22 PM   #11
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You mean the only sefer printed in NY in the 70s that does not have a haskomoh from R' Moshe Feinstein?

Also, that book is mainly about electric shavers, not shaving in general.

Seriously, thanks for the mareh mokom. I took a look at the sefer but I obviously did not have enough time to go through all of it carefully. It is clearly full of bekius. Here is what I would like to see in such a sefer, without knowing whether it is in that particular work.

Al pi halochoh
1. Machlokes rishonim whether misporayim ke'ein ta'ar is mutar or potur
2. Machlokes achronim whether the various types of electric shavers fall under the category misporayim ke'ein ta'ar

(See Encyclopedia Talmudis, erech Hashchasas HaZokon)

Al pi kabboloh
1. Don't shave

Al pi chassidus
1. Don't shave

Too many seforim (and people) mix the issues together. The Chofetz Chaim writes befeirush in the first se'if of his Kuntres Tiferes Odom that misporayim ke'ein ta'ar is mutar al pi halochoh but al pi kabboloh one should not shave. I did not have time to look up the reference in Likkutei Halochos but puk chazi what he wrote at the very beginning of his book on shaving!

It is no great kuntz to get a Sefardi mekubal or a chassidishe rebbe to write a letter saying that you shouldn't shave.

Many of the letters (but by no means all or most) were just haskomos to the sefer without agreeing with the conclusion. For example read R' Pinchas Hirschprung's, R' Dovid Lifschitz's and R' Gedaliah Felder's letters.

He seems to have written to all of the poskim of the time. Why is there no letter from R' Ovadiah Yosef? R' Moshe Feinstein? R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach?

I looked in the mafteichos and did not see R' Moshe Feinstein's name at all!

Does he mention R' Tzvi Pesach Frank, R' Meshulam Roth, or the Sridei Eish?
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Unread 06-16-2003, 08:11 AM   #12
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Rabbi Weiner says that after the Jewish Observer made Rabbi Shteimen a gadol, he wanted to put in an ad against shaving with Rabbi Shteimen's haskama included in it. At first the J.O. said he could only put it in, in Hebrew. Then they rejected the ad altogether.

Rabbi Weiner wanted to put an ad in the Yated against shaving, with Rav Shach's haskama in it. The ad was rejected.

I am told that the only reason the "yeshivishe velt" allows itself to shave with an electric shaver is because of R' Moshe's radical psak which he didn't even allow to be written down.
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Unread 06-16-2003, 09:15 AM   #13
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The beard is conductive to Yiras-Shomayim (fear of Hashem). (qtd. in sefer Lekutei Halochos [by Rav Nachman of Breslav] Laws of the beard.)

lekutie halachos was written by reb noson not reb nachman.
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Unread 06-16-2003, 09:18 AM   #14
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Weiners book only talks about certain types of shavers. So the G-d Fearing Jews will use different one's. What's the big deal?
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Unread 06-16-2003, 10:41 AM   #15
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R' YY Jacobson writes:

Quote:
...Hairs act as "straws" transmitting profound and inaccessible energy. Each strand of hair, shaped like a straw (the form of the Hebrew letter Vuv, somewhat similar to the English I), communicates a level of soul-energy that due to its intensity cannot be communicated directly, only through the "straw" of hair, through the contracted, and curtailed medium of hair, which dilutes the intense energy.

Now, the Kabbalah (12) distinguishes between "fine hair" and "coarse hair" - the fine hair decorating the cranium, present immediately during birth, and the coarse hair of the beard, appearing only at a male's entry into adulthood. The hair that links the "fine" and the "coarse" are the earlocks, the payos, the hair extending from the skull, down the jawbone, after which it merges with the beard.

The hair growing on top of the cranium, the "fine hair," represents the deeply concealed energy stemming from the interior of the skull, the Kabbalistic identified location for the super-conscious formations of the human psyche. The deepest and most primal forces of our psyche, the supra-rational desires and cravings of the soul formulated even prior to the birth of cognition, are associated in Jewish Mysticism with the skull, defined as "the crown over the brain," or simply as "kesser", which means the crown. Kesser is seen as the most lofty and elevated part of the soul, its link to G-d who also transcends reason and logic.

The hair of the male beard, on the other hand, the "coarse hair," represents the energy stemming from the sub conscious cognitive impressions of the human psyche, located within the higher and lower brain. This dimension of the human soul is known in Kabbalah as "Mochah Stemaah" (the hidden cognition), and stands one rung below the level of Kesser.

[This is the mystical reason for the feminine body not developing a beard. As mentioned above, the mystical function of hair is to access, in a contracted and curtailed fashion, energy that is inaccessible due to its profundity. But women are naturally more in tuned with their sub conscious cognition, and therefore do not require the "straws" of hair to access that level of self].


Now the question is, is there any way to link the super-conscious forces of the soul, the kesser dimension, with the cognitive structure of the psyche? Can we ever mentally experience who we really are in out deepest space? Even after the kesser energy was filtered into hair strands, is there hope for us to internalize this infinite light within the finite vessels of cognition?

Men of spirit from the days of yore have struggled with this dilemma. Judaism's answer to this question is - the earlocks, the two rows of hair lingering down the jaw bone, that link the hair of the cranium to the hair of the beard. In Kabbalah, these two rows of hair symbolize the contracted transmission of the super-conscious kesser energy, to the sub conscious mental (mochah stemaah) energy, so that the infinite and unconstrained atomic power of the soul's crown can ultimately be contained and internalized within the mental framework of the human condition.

Without the two side locks curtailing, contracting and metamorphosing the new-clear energy of kesser, none of it would be expressed or experienced within the person's conscious life. Only by having the kesser energy filtered through the hair on the skull, and then re-filtered a second time via the earlocks, can the deepest energy of the soul become articulated in the lower chambers of consciousness (17).


12) Zohar Naso Idra Rabah 129a.
13) Ibid. 129a.
14) Or Hatorah Emor pp. 588-593.
15) The contraction that takes place in Hair is manifested in the fact that our hairy parts, particularly of the head and pubis, are subject to troublesome infestations by minute insects and mites, such as chiggers and lice.
16) Shaar Hamitzvos Parshas Naso.
17) This may also be the reason why the great kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luryah (d. in 1572), did not allow his earlocks to grow below his ears and have them hang over the sides of his beard, as is the custom of Yemenite, Moroccan and most Chassidic Jews. Rather he would trim his payos (earlocks) with scissors to ensure that they merged with the beard. This "style" was embraced by the Chabad school and many other Ashkenazic and Sefardic communities. (See Shaar Hamitzvos and Taamei Hamitzvos Parshas Kedoshim. Beis Lechem Yehudah gloss to Yoreh Deah 181:1. Igros Kodesh by the Lubavitcher Rebbe vol. 20 p. 10.

In the former style, the emphasis is on overwhelming the beard (representing the deep cognitive impressions) with the "earlocks," representing the flow of the soul's pristine desire and emotion. This indeed is the spiritual path of Yemenite and many Chassidic Jews. In Chabad, however, the goal has always been to link between the atomic energy of the soul and the mental framework of the mind, represented by the merging of the earlocks and the beard (see Or Hatorah and Hemshech 5672 references in footnote #20).
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Unread 06-16-2003, 10:53 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jude
I am told that the only reason the "yeshivishe velt" allows itself to shave with an electric shaver is because of R' Moshe's radical psak which he didn't even allow to be written down.
Not true. Plenty of other poskim permit electric shavers.
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Unread 06-16-2003, 07:15 PM   #17
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I am told (yet again), that all of them rely on R' Moshe's psak.
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Unread 06-16-2003, 07:44 PM   #18
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"Baba Sali never cut his beard, and he would severely upbraid those who came to him, shaven. Baba Sali never shaped or trimmed his beard, regarding it as a sacred part of himself.

"'Until I was forty years old, my beard did not grow,' said the Rav. 'By that time I was sure that I would never have a beard, much like one of my uncles. This caused me untold anguish and I always worried about it.

"'One night, I could not sleep. I wept and prayed all night to the Creator. How could I heed the commandment to grow a beard, if my beard would not grow? All that night I entreated Hashem that my beard should grow. That very week, the first signs of my beard became visible--and it has grown like the beard of Aharon HaCohen ever since!'

"Whenever he would tell this story, Baba Sali would cradle his beard in his hands and kiss it.

"'Baruch Hashem that I have never trimmed it, or damaged it in any way,' he would say. 'I am glad that it is completely holy.'"



From Baba Sali: His Life, Holiness, Teachings, and Miracles
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Unread 06-16-2003, 08:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
How coudl I heed the commandment to grow a beard
commandment to grow a beard?
isn't it a commandment not to remove it?
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Unread 06-17-2003, 05:16 AM   #20
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the misnagdishe world do NOT ALLOW young bochurim to grow beards. it is condidered ga'ava and improper. all the gedolim that today have long beards owe it to the fact that they shaved when they were younger. after 3 kids, there is an inyan to grow a beard, or after marige etc.
except R'oshe who didnt even touch his beard when he was a bochur!
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Unread 06-17-2003, 08:28 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jude


commandment to grow a beard?
isn't it a commandment not to remove it?
"Not to remove" is the same as allow to "grow", no?
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Unread 06-17-2003, 09:25 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jude
I am told (yet again), that all of them rely on R' Moshe's psak.
You mean like R' Tzvi Pesach Frank who was (at least) a generation older than R' Moshe and lived in Eretz Yisroel?

Or like R' Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik (who only had a goatee for much of his life) who relied on no one but his father and grandfather?
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Unread 06-17-2003, 12:02 PM   #23
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Quote:
"Not to remove" is the same as allow to "grow", no?
no!

Quote:
You mean like R' Tzvi Pesach Frank who was (at least) a generation older than R' Moshe and lived in Eretz Yisroel?
you're saying he was matir an electric shaver? got a source for that?

Re R' Yoshe Ber - his halachic view is not relevant when it comes to the yeshiva world, which is what I am talking about

and btw - "two" are not "plenty"
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Unread 06-17-2003, 12:29 PM   #24
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Jude, you're wrong.

In the world of psak, when dealing with two major poskim, one of whom is SUPER-major and basically had mara d'asra status when it came to major issues, two IS plenty.

Second of all, the standard hanhaga in the American litvishe yeshivos, with the consent and approval of their Roshei Yeshiva, was to encourage shaving among bochurim at least and to follow Reb Moshe's psak. This means that R'Ruderman, R'Yaakov Kaminetzky etc. all big in their own right, approved of the heter outlined in R'Moshe's psak. This m'meilah raises the number above two, although those rabbis didn't write teshuvos.

So, many poskim hold that shaving is ossur. Some big guns hold it's muttar.

Chabad Poskim, (really only ONE poseik, the Tzemach Tzedek )based on some nigleh as well as strong kabbolo, hold shaving is wrong. So good. It's a good thing. Beards are choshuv. Some of my best friends have beards. I have a beard. But don't pretend there isn't legitimate psak the other way.

Last edited by Chabad Friend; 06-17-2003 at 01:13 PM.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 12:56 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jude
you're saying he was matir an electric shaver? got a source for that?
Har Tzvi, Yoreh Deah 143. I think he is also quoted from a different source in Shaarim HaMetzuyonim BaHolochoh.

Quote:
Re R' Yoshe Ber - his halachic view is not relevant when it comes to the yeshiva world, which is what I am talking about
I don't think you realize that there are different segments within the yeshiva world and in many of them, particularly those people who packed uptown to hear his droshos, his opinion is relevant.
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