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On which days is it forbidden to shave?

On which days is it forbidden to shave?

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Question:

During which holidays or times of mourning on the Jewish calendar year can I not shave? Also, when a family member passes away, for how many days/months is the mourner forbidden to shave?

Answer:

Before responding to your question, a few prefatory comments:

  1. It is always forbidden for a man to shave his beard with a razor, or a razor-like implement (that completely removes facial hair)—as per Leviticus 19:27: "You shall not destroy the corners of your beard." If you shave, speak to your rabbi to determine which shavers are halachically permitted for use.
  2. There are Halachic authorities (including the Tzemach Tzedek, third Chabad Rebbe) who opine that cutting any part of the beard, even without a razor-like implement, falls under the prohibition of cross-dressing. This opinion is especially followed by Chabad chassidim.
  3. Though there may be halachically acceptable ways to shave, Kabbalah attaches great importance to the beard, and teaches that growing a beard makes one a beneficiary of G‑d's infinite compassion. (For more on this, see Why don't chassidic men shave their beards?)

As you pointed out in your question, there are certain days and periods on the Jewish calendar when shaving and trimming (or taking haircuts) is not permitted.

First and foremost, it is forbidden to shave on Shabbat and biblical holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, first and last days of Sukkot and Passover, and Shavuot). Cutting hair on these days falls under the category of gozez (shearing)—one of the 39 forbidden categories of work. There is no leniency whatsoever with regards to this prohibition.

On the following days we also don't shave. Nevertheless, if there is pressing reason to shave (such as potential loss of a job) a rabbi should be consulted:

  • Chol Hamoed, the "intermediate days" of Sukkot and Passover.
  • The Omer period observed between Passover and Shavout when we mourn the death of the students of Rabbi Akiva. Exactly when this mourning period begins and ends depends on community custom, click here for more on this topic.
  • The "Three Weeks" between the seventeenth of Tammuz and midday of the tenth of Av, when our nation mourns the destruction of the Temples and Jerusalem. Many Sephardim, however, shave until the actual week of the Ninth of Av.
  • It is also customary not to shave on Rosh Chodesh (the one or two day semi-holiday marking the beginning of the Jewish month), as per the instructions of Rabbi Yehudah Hachassid.
  • One who is, G‑d forbid, mourning a deceased next of kin – sibling, spouse, or child – doesn't shave for the first thirty days. There are different customs regarding one who is mourning the passing of a parent (when the mourning period is extended); a rabbi should be consulted to ascertain the prevailing community tradition.

I hope that I've been helpful today. Please feel free to reply.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Anonymous August 10, 2016

I always wondered if someone can be considered Chabad if they still shave his beard. In the case of a baal teshuva for example. Can someone kindly respond ( and respond kindly....) Reply

sheila T. November 24, 2014

thank you for answering my question on the shaving of the beard during mourning of a loved one.
sincerely, sheila Reply

Moshe September 20, 2014

For those who shave, is there a day of the week (Wednesday. day) that is forbidden to shave? Does it not take 3 days for hair to grow back and 3 days after Wednesday is Sabbath? Reply

Anonymous Campbellsport, WI December 14, 2011

I am in the US Army, and we have to shave to be in uniform. How does this effect the rules of such an act? Reply

gershon mcgreevy October 28, 2009

Muslims and college students come to mind. Revolutionaries like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara sport(ed) beards and so do sailors. Reply

Mario East Lansing, Michigan October 28, 2009

What other cultures or religions don't shave? Reply

ruhamah2 Salem, MO/USA October 8, 2009

Shaving is clearly an Egyptian practice, and should never be performed on any body, otherwise, the one who is shaved prophesies that he (she) does not want the glory of G-d to reside on him (her). There is a book called "Coverings" by G. Naler that points out the divine governmental reasons of the beard (not a Jewish book, but informative), and is recomended. Men shaving and women cutting their hair short are doing nothing but switching roles (cross dressing) in my opinion. Reply

shmuel ber September 13, 2009

No, non-Jews are allowed to shave their beards. Reply

Simshon Muthiah Maddington, Australia September 11, 2009

Does this apply for a Now-Jew as well? Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org August 7, 2009

Have a look at "Why don't chassidic men shave their beards?" to learn why this is so. Reply

Ariel Weber Hackensack , New Jersey August 7, 2009

Rambam is a Sefaradi. He says it is not OK to shave, although he says it is OK to trim, but there is no obligation to, except fot the mustache.
Arizal and Ben Ish Hai also agree that you should trim your mustache, but both of them would strongly advise to not shave or trim your beard otherwise. Reply

Owen Fox Rockaway Beach, MO via jewishmemphis.com August 7, 2009

Can some one explain why Sephardim believe it is OK to Shave. While Chabad believes it is not. Both groups follow Halachic law. Reply

Anonymous Bend, OR July 16, 2009

It was mentioned that there was an option for shavers that are considered permissible. I, unfortunately, do not grow out evenly, and it is very spotted and grungy, thus my employer requiring I shave. Being new to following mitzvahs, what options lay before me that are considered permissible? Reply

Ariel Weber Hackensack, New Jersey June 25, 2009

In chapter 12, halacha 8, of Hilchot Avoda Zara, in the Mishne Torah, Rambam writes that it is forbidden "mide'orita" for a man to shave with a razor. After that, he writes that if a man shaves with a scissor (i.e. an electric razor), then he is patur. Patur means exempt, meaning he is exempt from punishment. Patur is generally the term used when someone transgressed a rabbinic commandment.
Then he goes on to say that a woman with facial hair is muteret to shave off her beard, meaning she is allowed to shave it off.
This indicates that Rambam believes it is rabbinically forbidden for a man to shave off his beard, and may only trim it with scissors. Reply