Haircuts during Sefirah

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*All customs listed below are only practiced during the period of time in which one is accustomed to observe the mourning customs, as explained in the previous Halacha. For semantic purposes we will refer to this as “the mourning period of Sefira”. All mourning customs apply both to men and women unless explicitly stated otherwise!

 

Haircuts:[1]

The custom is to avoid getting a haircut during the mourning period of Sefira. Once the mourning period that one keeps has ended, it is permitted to take a haircut.[2] It is permitted for all Ashkenazim[3] to take haircuts on Lag BaOmer day.[4]

Ruling of Kabbalah: According to Kabbalah, one is to avoid taking haircuts for the entire period of Sefira [even past one’s accustomed mourning period], from Pesach until Erev Shavuos.[5] This includes avoiding haircuts even on Lag BaOmer, and even during Shlosha Yimei Hagbala.[6] Many are careful to abide by this custom. Practically, the Chabad custom is to avoid haircuts from Pesach until Erev Shavuos.[7]

In the event of a Bris:[8] When a Bris Milah is taking place during one’s Sefira period of mourning, it is permitted for the father of the child, the Mohel and the Sandek to cut their hair the day before the Bris.[9] They should do so close to night, prior to going to shul [for Maariv].[10] [Nevertheless, those who are accustomed to abstain from getting a haircut throughout Sefira, as explained above, avoid doing so even in the event of a Bris.[11]]

Taking a haircut on Erev Shabbos when Lag Baomer falls on Sunday:[12] In years that Lag BaOmer falls on Sunday the custom is to get a haircut on Erev Shabbos, in honor of Shabbos. [Those who follow the custom of the Arizal do not take a haircut until Erev Shavuos, as stated above.] [Some Poskim[13] are lenient to even allow weddings on Friday in such a scenario.]

Rosh Chodesh Iyar/Sivan which falls on Shabbos/Sunday:[14] When Rosh Chodesh Iyar falls on Shabbos one may get a haircut on Erev Shabbos in honor of Shabbos.[15] This applies even according to those who follow the mourning period from after Pesach until Lag BaOmer. [Some Poskim[16] rule this applies likewise when Rosh Chodesh Sivan falls on Sunday, that one may take a haircut on Erev Shabbos. Others[17] however argue that in such a case it is forbidden to take a haircut.[18]] Those who follow the custom of the Arizal, do not take a haircut until Erev Shavuos, as stated above.]

 

 

* The laws below are relevant only to the period of mourning that one is accustomed to keep during Sefira. Those who follow the Kabbalistic ruling to not cut hair throughout the entire Sefira, are to ask a Rav whether they may be lenient in the lenient cases listed below, and whether they must be stringent in the stringent cases discussed below, even outside of their period of Sefirah.[19] This is with exception to those cases below in which it is explicitly written that the prohibition applies according to Kabbalah.[20]

 

Q&A on areas of hair forbidden to cut

May one cut body hair during one’s mourning period of Sefira?[21]

No. The prohibition against haircutting applies to all body hair.

 

May one trim his mustache during one’s mourning period of Sefira?[22]

It is permitted to trim the mustache hairs that are getting in the way of one’s food. [One may not trim past this point.]

 

May a woman pluck her eyebrows?[23]

Yes.

 

Q&A on cases of need

May one fix a bad haircut?[24]

If one began a haircut prior to his mourning period, then it is permitted to complete the haircut during one’s mourning period.

 

May one cut his hair as part of a medical treatment?[25]

Yes.

 

May one who is treating his hair for lice cut his hair?[26]

Yes.

 

May those permitted to take a haircut on Chol Hamoed also take a haircut during Sefira?[27]

Yes.

 

If one is having a very important meeting, may he get a haircut beforehand?

Government officials:[28] If one’s hair looks unpresentable and he is meeting with high government officials, then if his presence in this manner will be taken offence, he may be lenient to cut his hair. This however is to only be done with the official permission of a Beis Din, having them first annul his vow of his custom.

Business meeting:[29] If one’s hair looks unpresentable and is meeting with other businessmen, then if attending in this manner may sabotage the business deal and cause him a financial loss, he may be lenient to cut his hair. This however is to only be done with the official permission of a Beis Din, having them first annul his vow of his custom.

Q&A on cases of Mitzvah

If the Bris falls on Sunday may the Baalei Bris get a haircut on Erev Shabbos?

Some Poskim[30] rule it is permitted to do so. Other Poskim[31] rule it is forbidden to do so. Practically, one may be lenient to get a haircut on Erev Shabbos if he will be unable to do so on Sunday.[32]

 

May a Chasan cut his hair in honor of his wedding which is taking place on Lag BaOmer or before Shavuos?

It is permitted for a Chasan to get a haircut in honor of his wedding starting from the Friday before his wedding.[33] Some Poskim[34] rule a Chasan may also cut his hair throughout Sheva Brachos. Nevertheless, those who are accustomed like the Arizal to avoid haircuts until Erev Shavuos, avoid doing so even in honor of a wedding.[35]

 

May a Bar Mitzvah boy get a haircut in honor of his Bar Mitzvah?

No.[36] However, in a time of great need, such as the boy has very long hair, some[37] write one may be lenient.

 

Q&A on the times of the prohibition for those who follow the Kabbalistic custom

May those who follow the Kabbalistic custom get a haircut during Shloshes Yimei Hagbala?

Even if it past one’s mourning period, according to Kabbalah one is to avoid getting a haircut during the Shlosha Yimei Hagbala, until Erev Shavuos[38], and so is the Chabad custom.[39]

On Erev Shavuos: It is permitted, and is a Mitzvah, to get a haircut on Erev Shavuos. One may do so even past midday.

Erev Shavuos that falls on Shabbos:[40] When Erev Shavuos coincides with Shabbos one may take a haircut on Erev Shabbos which is the 48th day of the Omer.[41] This applies even according to the Kabbalistic ruling and Chabad custom. [One may begin to take a haircut after sunrise of Erev Shabbos, although not the night before.[42]] However, when Shavuos falls on Monday, one is not to take a haircut on Erev Shabbos, but only on Erev Shavuos.[43]

 

May those who follow the Kabbalistic custom get a haircut on the night of Erev Shavuos [5th of Sivan]?

Some Poskim[44] rule one may get a haircut on the night before Shavuos even according to the Kabalistic ruling.[45] Other Poskim[46] however rule one is to avoid getting a haircut at night until daybreak.[47] Those who are stringent like all the Sefira customs do not get a haircut until the morning of Erev Shavuos.[48]

 

If one is accustomed to follow the Kabbalistic custom to avoid getting a haircut throughout Sefira, may he choose to stop following this custom?[49]

If one desires to stop following the Kabbalistic avoidance of a haircut even past one’s mourning period then he is to perform Hataras Nedarim and may then take a haircut.

 

Q&A on women

Does the above prohibition of taking a haircut apply also to women?

Yes.[50] However, in a time of need, a woman may cut her hair during Sefirah.[51]

 

According to Kabala, are also women to avoid cutting hair throughout Sefirah?

The custom of the Arizal to avoid cutting hair throughout the entire Sefira applies likewise to women.[52] Thus, those communities who are accustomed like the Arizal, are to apply this custom likewise to the women of that community. 

 

May a woman shave her legs and other areas?[53]

No. However, married women, as well as girls of Shidduchim age, may be lenient to do so for necessary beauty purposes.

 

May a woman cut her hair for modesty purposes?[54]

Yes. Thus, those hairs of the head which a married woman is unable to properly cover may be cut during Sefira.

 

May a woman cut her hair in preparation for Mikvah?[55]

Yes.

 

May a woman trim her eyebrows and eyelashes?[56]

Yes.

 

May women cut their hair on Lag BaOmer?

The custom of the Arizal to avoid cutting hair throughout the entire Sefira, including Lag BaOmer, applies likewise to women.[57] Thus, those communities who are accustomed like the Arizal, are to apply this custom likewise to the women of that community. 

Q&A on children

May one cut the hair of a child?[58]

One is not to cut a child’s hair.[59] This applies even if the child is below the age of Chinuch.[60] [However, in a case of need, one may be lenient to do so.[61]]

  

According to the Kabbalistic custom, should children below Bar/Bas Mitzvah avoid haircuts during the entire period of Sefira?

Some Poskim[62] rule that the above custom of the Arizal is only relevant to those above the age of Mitzvos. Hence, children may have their hair cut after their selected period of morning. The Rebbe[63] however stated that even children are to avoid haircuts throughout the entire period of Sefirah.

 

When is an Upsherinish to take place for a child that was born during Sefira?

A child who was born between Pesach and Lag BaOmer is to have his Upsherinish on Lag BaOmer.[64] If the child was born after Lag BaOmer then the Upsherinish is to take place on Erev Shavuos.[65] It is not to be preceded to Lag BaOmer.[66]

 

May an Upsherinish child have his haircut on the night of Lag BaOmer?[67]

Yes.[68]

 

May one cut the hair for an Upsherinish on Motzei Lag BaOmer?

No. Some Poskim[69] however rule that if one began cutting the hair on Lag BaOmer and some hair was left then it may be cut on Motzei Lag Baomer.

 

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[1] Admur 493:1; Michaber 493:2

[2] Michaber ibid; Admur 493:5-6

[3] However, Sefaradim only begin taking haircuts the day after Lag BaOmer. [Michaber ibid; See first opinion in Halacha 2 above]

[4] See Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Halacha 2 above and Chapter 4 “Lag BaOmer” Halacha 2

[5] Custom of Arizal, brought in Peri Eitz Chaim 22:7; Shaar Hakavanos 86; Nehar Shalom 25; Igeres Ramaz 2; Birkeiy Yosef 493:6; Moreh Baetzba 8:221; Minchas Elazar 4:44; brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 493:8; Kaf Hachaim 493:13; See also 493:7

The reason: The custom of the Arizal was not to cut his hair throughout the entire period of Sefira until Erev Shavuos. This is not due to mourning but due to that the period of Sefira is a period of severity and judgment. [Poskim ibid] Even according to Nigleh there is reason to not cut hair until Erev Shavuos, as some suspect for all the opinions regarding the mourning period, and since until Erev Shavuos there are opinions who prohibit haircutting [including Lag BaOmer-as rules Michaber ibid] therefore, one who desires to be stringent like all opinions [as rules Admur in 493:7 that doing so is an available option] is to avoid haircuts until Erev Shavuos.

[6] Arizal ibid brought in Poskim ibid

[7] Hayom Yom p. 59; Sefer Haminhagim p. 86 [English]; However, no proof can be derived from here regarding the Chabad custom of the mourning period being that seemingly the reason behind this custom is due to the custom of the Arizal stated above.

[8] Admur 493:4; Rama 493:2

[9] If the Bris falls on Shabbos they may take a haircut on Erev Shabbos. If the Bris falls on Sunday see Q&A!

[10] Admur ibid; Darkei Moshe 493:3; Chok Yaakov 493:8

[11] Igeres Ramaz 2; Shaareiy Teshuvah 493:4; Moed Lekol Chaiy 6:4; Kaf Hachaim 493:13 and 37

[12] Admur 493:5; Rama 493:2 in name of Mahriy Viyal  51

Custom of Sefaradim: According to the ruling of the Michaber, one may not get a haircut even in such an occurrence. [Kaf Hachaim 493:32]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to get a haircut on Friday even in such a scenario. [Leket Yosher p. 97; Maharil and Elya Raba 493:9 brought in Kaf Hachaim 493:33-34]

[13] Halef Lecha Shlomo 330; Divrei Malkel 3:23

[14] Admur 493:8 based on M”A 493:2

[15] The reason: As there is additional joy of both Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh in such an occurrence. [Admur ibid]

Weddings: Some Poskim rule it is even permitted to have a wedding on Erev Shabbos in such a scenario. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:14]

[16] P”M 493 A”A 5

[17] Chochmas Shlomo 493

[18] The reason: As one will anyways be able to get a haircut before next Shabbos, and hence will only remain with long hair for one more Shabbos. [ibid]

[19] It is unclear from the Poskim and Kabbalists as to how far the Kabbalistic warning against cutting hair extends, and if it would apply to the various cases of prohibition and allowance discussed below in the Poskim. This question would stand both with regards to whether one may be lenient in those matters that are permitted even during one’s mourning period [i.e. trimming the mustache], and likewise whether one must be stringent throughout the entire Sefirah in all the matters that we are stringent during the mourning period [i.e. body shaving]. 

[20] Such as the allowance of a Chasan to get a haircut.

[21] Michaber 551:12 regarding three weeks; Michaber Yoreh Deah 390:1 and Moed Katan 18b regarding mourning; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:7

[22] Michaber 551:13 regarding the three weeks; It is unclear if this allowance applies even according to those who follow the Kabbalistic ruling not to cut their hair throughout the Sefirah.

[23] Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:43

[24] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:11 footnote 82; P”M 493 M”Z 2 and Biur Halacha 493:2 that whatever haircutting is permitted on Chol Hamoed is permitted during Sefira; Regarding this allowance on Chol Hamoed see: Kapei Aaron 51; Chol Hamoed Kihilchaso 3:6 [p.122]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 531:2; See P”M 531 A”A 12

[25] Aruch Hashulchan 493:3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:10; Nitei Gavriel Aveilus 3:13 regarding an Avel; See Chol Hamoed Kehilchasa 3:8 regarding Chol Hamoed, and the same applies during Sefira [P”M 493 M”Z 1; Biur Halacha 493:2]

[26] See Chol Hamoed Kehilchasa 3:8 regarding Chol Hamoed, and the same applies during Sefira [P”M 493 M”Z 1; Biur Halacha 493:2]

[27] P”M 493 M”Z 1; Biur Halacha 493:2 “Nohagim”; See however Igros Moshe 2:96 who questions this ruling

[28] Zera Emes 69; Machazik Bracha 493:4; Kaf Hachaim 493:19; See Chasam Sofer 158

[29] Igros Moshe 4:102

[30] Kaf Hachaim 493:37 in name of Teshuvah Meahava

[31] Kaf Hachaim ibid in name of Agura Meohalecha p. 6

[32] Kaf Hachaim ibid

[33] Shaareiy Teshuvah 493:3; See Igros Moshe 2:95 regarding whether the guests who are invited to such a wedding and are accustomed to follow Aveilus during this period, may also cut their hair.

[34] Yabia Omer 5:35

[35] Rav Poalim 4 Kuntrus Sod Yesharim 15 in name of Rashash in Nehar Shalom; See Kaf Hachaim 493:13

[36] Mishneh Halachos 6:45; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:10

[37] Piskeiy teshuvos ibid; Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalacha 120:8 in Kuntrus Acharon

[38] Custom of Arizal, brought in Peri Eitz Chaim 22:7; Shaar Hakavanos 86; Nehar Shalom 25; Igeres Ramaz 2; Birkeiy Yosef 493:6; Moreh Baetzba 8:221; Minchas Elazar 4:44; Kaf Hachaim 493:13

Other opinions: Some write that according to even according to Kabbalah one may get a haircut on the 48th day of Omer and that so was the custom of Rav Chaim Vital. [Minchas Elazar ibid]

[39] Hayom Yom p. 53; Sefer Haminhagim p. 86 [English] “The Rebbe Rashab was uneasy with those which took haircuts during the Shloshes Yimei Hagbala”

[40] Moreh Baetzba 8:221; Minchas Elazar 3:65; Kaf Hachaim 493:13; Shevach Hamoadim p. 235 footnote 10 in name of Rav Shmuel Levitin that so was the custom in Lubavitch; Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 290

Other opinions: The Rashash questioned whether one may get a haircut on the 48th day of Omer even in such a case. He concluded that if he would not have been forced into it, he would not have gotten a haircut on the 48th. [Nehar Shalom p. 25]

[41] The reason: Although in general, based on the custom of the Arizal, we avoid haircuts until Erev Shavuos, this only applies when Erev Shavuos falls on a weekday, as one cannot enter into the festival with improper attire. Furthermore, it is recorded in Shaar Hakavanos that Rav Chaim Vital was always accustomed to get a haircut on the 48th day of Omer. Some learn this itself was due to Kabalistic reasons. Furthermore, even according to the Rashash which leaned to be stringent not to take a haircut on Erev Shabbos in such a coincidence, nevertheless he too forced himself to do so. Hence there is no room to be stringent on the above, and on the contrary one should do so. [See Minchas Elazar ibid]

[42] See next Q&A!

[43] Hagahos Chasam Sofer 493

[44] Pekudas Eliezer 493:2

[45] The reason: So is the custom, and so was the custom of Rav Chaim Vital to get a haircut on the night of the 49th of Omer, after saying Sefiras Haomer. [ibid]

[46] Moed Lecho Chaiy 6:7

[47] The reason: As night time is a time of Gevuros, and hence if we avoid a haircut during Sefira, even more so is it to be avoided at night. [ibid]

[48] See Admur 493:3 that according to those who start on the second of Sivan the 33rd day falls on Erev Shavuos, and Miktzas Hayom Kekulo.

[49] Kesones Yosef 19; Zechor Leavraham Ayin; Kaf Hachaim 493:14

[50] Yoreh Deah 390:5 regarding regular mourning; P”M 551 A”A 13; Kaf Hachaim 551:47; Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:137

[51] Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:137; Lehoros Nasan 2:32; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:7

The reason: As there are many Poskim and Rishonim who permit a woman to cut her hair within Shloshim of Aveilus [See Michaber 390:5], and thus, although we rule like the Rama 390:5 that it is forbidden for women to do so, during Sefirah, which is just a customary Aveilus, we are more lenient.

[52] Rav Poalim 4 Kuntrus Sod Yesharim 15

[53] Nitei Gavriel 49:13-14; See Lehoros Nasan ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[54] M”B 551:79 and Peri Megadim 551 A”A 13 regarding three weeks; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:7; Shevach Hamoadim p. 236 in name of Rav SZ”A; Rav Shmuel Wosner; Rabbanei Anash

[55] Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:7; Shevach Hamoadim p. 236 in name of Rav SZ”A; Rav Shmuel Wosner; Rabbanei Anash

[56] Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:7 in name of Rav Wozner and Rav SZ”A

[57] Rav Poalim 4 Kuntrus Sod Yesharim 15

[58] Michaber 551:14 regarding three weeks; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:7 footnote 47; So is also proven from the fact that an Upshernish is not done during the period of Sefirah [See Igros Kodesh 9:4]

[59] The reason: As public mourning applies to children for Chinuch purposes. However, private mourning does not. [M”A 551:38]

[60] So rule regarding three weeks: Chayeh Adam 132:18; Shaar Hatziyon 551:91; The same applies during the period of Sefirah, as is evident from Igros Kodesh ibid and the custom to delay the haircut until Lag Baomer.

[61] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid and Nitei Gavriel 49:15 based on 531:6 and the commentaries there [M”B 531:6] regarding the allowance to cut a child’s hair during Chol Hamoed.

[62] Minchas Elazar 4:60

[63] Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 2:222

[64] Custom of Arizal who took his child to three year old son to Meron and gave him a haircut on Lag Baomer [brought  in Peri Eitz Chaim 22:7; Shaar Hakavanos 86; Minchas Elazar 4:44]; Igros Kodesh 9:4; 9:58

Letter of the law: From the letter of the law, a child may have his Upsherinish on any day during Sefira. However, the custom is to have it delayed until Lag BaOmer. [Rebbe ibid based on Shaarey Teshuvah 531]

[65] Igros Kodesh 12:441; Igeres Shifrin of Munktach

[66] Igros Kodesh 11:60; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493 footnote 99 based on Arugas Habosem 210 that one is not to precede the haircut to the 3rd birthday.

Other customs: Some write that one may precede the haircuts of all children to Lag Baomer if their 3rd birthday falls within three months of Lag Baomer. [Hilula Derashbi based on a directive of his teacher the Minchas Elazar, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]

[67] Nitei Gavriel Upsherinish 12:3

[68] The reason: This is based on our custom above to not recite Tachanun beginning from Erev Lag BaOmer; Furthermore, from the letter of the law a child may have an Upsherinish any time during Sefira, and it is only based on Kabala that we delay it until Lag BaOmer. [See Igros Kodesh 9:58] There is hence no reason to require delaying it until morning. Nevertheless, many are accustomed to only do so after sunrise. 

[69] Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:11 footnote 82; Regarding this allowance on Chol Hamoed see: Kapei Aaron 51; Chol Hamoed Kihilchaso 3:6 [p.122]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 531:2; See P”M 531 A”A 12

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2 Comments

  1. Michael

    May one cut his hair during sefira if it is a chatzitza for tefillin [for one who is concerned for the opinion of the Machatzis HaShekel]?

    May a not-yet-religious Jew who has a ponytail and is now becoming religious cut off his ponytail during sefira?

  2. Michael

    Despite the above Chabad custom, there were times that the Rebbe did get a haircut on Lag BaOmer; see Otzar Minhagei Chabad, Nissan, p. 283.

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