18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
 
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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish Daily Life and HalachaThe Truth from Rabbi Kanievsky
 
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The Truth from Rabbi Kanievsky    

The Truth from Rabbi Kanievsky



Rabbi Kanievsky recently spoke out about what Jewish law says about when and how Jewish men can shave their beards – and it’s an important lesson for all of us!

 



Editor's Note: Rabbi Arush touches on the roots of this issue, and many others like it, in Q&A 43 - Rebuilding from the Rubble, saying that "The core issue is that we don't have clear "daat Torah" - knowing what the Torah teaches as truth - in our days. Some man comes, who already needs a lot of mercy from Heaven (a nice way of saying this person is not a true, righteous leader, but rather someone who has lots of sins and mistakes and needs a lot of mercy, just like the rest of us) and people follow him..." The end of the sentence Rabbi Arush didn't say (since he never finishes negative sentences, rather he leaves it to you to understand the clear conclusion) is that this man, this "Rabbi," then leads his followers astray based on his own false conclusions and mistakes.

 

Hence, we have in our days this gigantic disconnect between the supposed leaders, the "Gadolim" and what they rule as halacha, Jewish law - and the reality of what the average person does as part of his little community that is in theory under the Gadol but in function doesn't listen to his directives because "my Rabbi doesn't hold like that" or "our community has a different custom." That is like the student saying that he isn't following school rules because the janitor has a different opinion, and therefore everyone listens to the janitor instead of the principle!

 

This is part of the destruction for which we mourn every night, and in particular, during the Nine Days. That the true leaders have been hidden and instead, false leaders who are marching us right into Gehinnom are misleading the community while the true leaders scream in pain, and no one listens because "that doesn't apply to me/my community."

 

Thus, Jewish law is trampled by the people who supposedly are dedicated to keeping it, and no one wants to admit the truth because in doing so they must also admit to the entire flawed system and make major life changes, in addition to facing ridicule from others who don't want to admit the truth for the same reasons!


"Over these I mourn..."

 

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky’s book on Jewish law, Orchos Yosher (recently published with English translation by ArtScroll), dedicates an entire chapter to emphatically and unequivocally refuting the common, prevailing misconceptions regarding the beard and shaving. Rabbi Kanievsky also keeps a copy of the book Hadras Ponim Zokon (The Glory of the Bearded Face) by Rabbi Moshe Wiener of New York in the personal study of his home in Bnei Brak.

 

In his book, Rabbi Kanievsky forcefully dismisses the notion that the Litvish (Lithuanian but really the prevailing custom among most Ashkenazic Jews, sometimes labeled as “Yeshivish”) mesorah (tradition) is to be beardless and declares, “Throughout our history, it has been a disgrace for anyone not to have a beard. It is only in recent generations that some have started to treat this irreverently, having learned this from the non-Jews.”

 

He quotes the Targum Yonasan, the Sefer HaChinuch, and the Chofetz Chaim as sources that cutting the beard with scissors is also forbidden due to lo yilbash (do not wear the clothing of a woman).

 

He writes that according to the Chofetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish, the Steipler Gaon, and others, contemporary electric shaving machines are prohibited and have the same halachic status as razors.

 

He quotes the Chofetz Chaim as writing an entire treatise to disprove all justifications for removing the beard. “It is a great mitzvah for the entire Jewish people to reinforce this observance and refrain from trimming the beard even with scissors."

 

He quotes the Chazon Ish: “Although this sickness has spread even among Torah scholars, may they be well, the issue has not changed as a result of this, and therefore my soul burns with rage because of this practice.” The Chazon Ish also added: “I find this matter very painful, for it is against the Jewish quality of modesty and is not the Jewish style of dress, rather [Jews] have learned it from the non-Jews during their exile, thereby negating kedusha (holiness).”

 

For further information or to order the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, see Koshershaver.info. You can get the book in English from Artscroll Publications: Orchos Yosher.

 

Adapted from https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/promotions/1990513/the-sefer-that-rav-kanievsky-%ef%bb%bfholds-closely-in-his-bookshelf.html

 





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