Rav Elyashiv: It is Not Mehudar to Take a Haircut Today


rav-elyashiv2By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

There is a fascinating Rama (in Orach Chaim 493:2), quoted in the previous Matzav.com story, that tells us that when Lag Ba’omer falls on Friday, the custom is to allow getting a haircut on account of kavod Shabbos. The Rama seems to cite the Maharil as the source for this ruling. In fact, the parenthesis indicating the source was not penned by the Rama but by a later editor.

Indeed, if one looks at the Maharil, one sees no such indication in his writings that this is correct. What, then, is the source? It comes from the Mahariv.

Poskim and gedolei roshei yeshiva have given two explanations for the ruling found in the Rama. One explanation is that since one is shaving and getting a haircut on Sunday, and Shabbos is right beforehand, it seems to be a “slap in the face” to Shabbos that one did not get a haircut for the holiest day of the week too. In other words, it is the comparison that would be drawn from the Sunday holiday to the gift that Hashem gave us, Shabbos.

Another explanation is that Lag Ba’omer is actually a holiday, and the holiness of that holiday begins at Mincha on the previous day. One does not recite Tachanun, for example, during Minchah that immediately precedes Lag Ba’omer. Since this is the case, one would technically be permitted to shave and get a haircut on Shabbos. The only problem, of course, is that it is a violation of Shabbos.

Herein lies our heter. Since it is forbidden to do so on Shabbos, the minhag is to permit it the day before,  that it could be done for Shabbos. This is the explanation of the Mahariv‘s position.

Although the Rama cites sources that it is the minhag to permit these haircuts, the question is whether it is ideal.

Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is quoted by one of his talmidim, Rabbi Avrohom Hillel Weinberger, author of Hagaos Vehosafos (as cited in Ashrei Ha’ish p. 430) that although it is permitted, it is “not mehudar” and it is preferable, rather, to get the haircut on Sunday.

This position comes as a shock to most people. How so? Well, firstly, the Mishnah Berurah does not mention at all the notion that it is “not mehudar.” Secondly, it has been the minhag of all bnei yeshiva to follow this ruling of the Rama, ostensibly not only because it was permitted, but because it involved issues of kavod Shabbos.

It is this author’s suggestion that the issue is actually a matter of debate between the poskim of yesteryear and Rav Elyashiv. Rav Elyashiv might hold of the second explanation of the Mahariv, that we just do it on Friday because we cannot do it on Shabbos. The Mishnah Berurah and the gedolei haroshei yeshiva who permitted it fully in the past would hold of the first explanation of the Mahariv that it is a bit of a bizayon to Shabbos to get a haircut the next day, but not for Shabbos itself.

Regardless, all authorities agree that it is permitted to do so. Some say that one should do so precisely because of the issue of kavod Shabbos, while Rav Elyashiv holds that ideally one shouldn’t. This author would like to suggest that the Mishnah Berurah‘s silence here, and his ruling elsewhere regarding Rosh Chodesh on Sunday, indicates that the Chofetz Chaim was not in agreement with the view of Rav Elyashiv here.

The author may be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com and welcomes discussion on this issue.

{5tjt.com/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I could understand the haircut, but how is making yourself look like a goy ever kavod shabbos? I dont blame people who have to shave for work when they work around goyim (but nowadays many goyim have beards too so not an excuse anymore) but to shave in honor of shabbos seems like more of a bizayon than a kavod. Also like Haleivi said, to shave on the yom tov of the author of the holy Zohar it’s like “gam likbosh es hamalka imi babayis!”

  2. even when lag baomer is in middle of the week you cant take haircut from mincha the day before. you have to wait for morning on lag baomer

  3. This is very confusing at this point. I even came across the idea, which contradicts what this article states, that if Lag B’Omer is on Sunday and you get a haircut then, it is dishonoring Shabbos. In fact, if one did not get a haircut before Shabbos, do not get one on Sunday.

    Also, why did this article not come out during the week when people were discussing this topic?

  4. #3. The point is not that the haircur or shave is kevod shabbos. Rather, it is that doing it on Sunday is bizayon of Shabbos. It is not the stubble or the hadras panim or any of that. It is the fact that personal grooming, whatever that means in your book, is happening immediately after Shabbos, that diminishes kevod Shabbos.

    It is a fine distinction worthy of a talmudist. But isnt that where all Torah and halacha is based?

  5. Stop with this anti shaving nonsense! Every Rosh Yeshiva of the previous generation shaved. Look at the pictures from the Mir, Kletzk, Branovitch, etc…in Europe. You wack jobs realy have to get over it!

  6. The sevara that was used to allow shaving on this friday should be used every friday! The Rambam says that kavod Shabbos is a d’oraysah, while the aveilus of Sefirah is NOT EVEN A DIN D’RABANAN. It is a slap in the face to Shabbos every week of sefirah that people do not shave! Rav Soloveitchik used to matir shaving during sefirah for those who normally shave every day for that very reason! And if you are not satisfied with him because he is too “modern” (even though he was acknowledged as the biggest gaon in learning in his generation), Rav Dovid Kronglass, who learned in the Mir in Poland and was the Mashgiach in Ner Yisrael used to pasken the same way. Mori v’rebbi Rav Hershel Schachter said that the minhag of not normally shaving is pure amaratzis!!!!

  7. #10 don’t bring proof from the 20s and 30s in Lita! How many shaved in the Lita close to the beginning WW I? Nobody! Lita changed

  8. My 3 Roshei Yeshiva all shaved alz Bachur. Rav Schniur Kotler Zt”l, Rav Shmuel Birenbaum Zt”l, & Lbdl Lechaim, Moreinu Horav Chaim Pinchus Scheinberg Shlita. So there!

  9. #11 – this might be related re shaving on Chol Hamoed between Reb Moshe zl who prohibits vs R YB zl who permitted shaving

  10. Shtark YU guy:
    The minhag you mention is actually endorsed by the Chasam Sofer, who bases it on a diyuk in the Magen Avraham.

  11. To those who stick up for shaving:
    Do you know what the Chazon Ish point of view was?
    Check it out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Dear #11 = SHTARK YU ETC. ETC.
    To your calculation apparently there are a total of 3 lomdim altogether, as the rst of the Roshei Yeshiva & Rabbonim were and are NOT matir.

  13. Mr. # 13:
    You’re mistaken in your quote of this machlokes.
    You should better start learning, otherwise you’ll remain an Am Ho’oretz.

  14. Mr. # 14:
    You’re mistaken in your quote of this machlokes.
    You should better start learning, otherwise you’ll remain an Am Ho’oretz

  15. To the Matirim:
    How about shaving in the 3 weeks.
    After all Kvod Shabbos in the 3 weeks is also DeOraisa while Aveilus is D’Rabonon.

  16. that the beard is kodesh.
    In fact many tzaddikim wouldnt deal with people without beards they were considered rebellious.
    If a person saw what is written in sefaim hakadishim they would never shave off their beard.