By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
QUESTION: For those who began observing the sefirah restrictions on the second night of Pesach, is there any special dispensation to take a haircut or a shave on Rosh Chodesh Iyar when it falls on a Friday [and Shabbos] – as it does this year?
DISCUSSION: Mishnah Berurah,(1) followed by almost all of the poskim,(2) rules that when Rosh Chodesh Iyar falls on a Friday, it is permitted to take a haircut or a shave that Friday, even for those who are already in the midst of the sefirah mourning restrictions. This exception (which is for haircut and shaving only – not for other sefirah restrictions such as listening to music) is permitted in honor of the double occasion of Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh.(3)
Mishnah Berurah, however, does not clearly address whether or not this also applies to those who follow the special restriction recorded in the Will and Testament of Rabbi Yehudah Hachasid never to take a haircut or a shave on any Rosh Chodesh throughout the year, even if Rosh Chodesh falls on Friday.(4) Other poskim, however, do discuss this issue directly: Some hold that Rosh Chodesh Iyar is an exception and permit taking a haircut or a shave on Friday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar;(5) others maintain that Rosh Chodesh Iyar is not an exception and is no different from any other Rosh Chodesh;(6) while a third opinion suggests that one should take a haircut or a shave on Thursday afternoon after chatzos.(7) One should consult his rav as to which opinion to follow.
1 O.C. 493:5.
2 A dissenting view is quoted by Kaf ha-Chayim 493:42.
3 If, for some reason, one will be unable to take a haircut or shave on Friday, it is permitted to do so on Thursday night.
4 As quoted by Mishnah Berurah 260:7.
5 Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in L’Torah V’horahah, vol. 2, pg. 20); Harav Y. Kamenetsky (Emes L’yaakov O.C. 260:1). Note, however, that even according to this opinion, only those who are already observing the sefirah restrictions may be lenient on Rosh Chodesh. Those who customarily begin sefirah restrictions on Rosh Chodesh should do so this year as well and take their haircut and shave on Thursday.
6 Harav Y. Y. Kanievsky (quoted in by Harav C. Kanievsky in Bein Pesach L’shavuos, pg. 246.)
7 Kaf ha-Chayim 493:47, quoting several poskim.