• Can I Hire a Staff Member That Cuts his Beard?

    Rabbi Moshe Wiener, author of the Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, sent to a letter from the Rebbe to the directors of a camp who asked whether they can hire a staff-member who cut his beard • Full Letter

    Rabbi Moshe Wiener, author of the Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, sent to a letter from the Rebbe to the directors of a camp who asked whether they can hire a staff-member who cut his beard.

    The following is the Rebbe’s response (Translation by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger):

    Regarding the camp: I received comments from several people that the success of the camp would be increased if the counselors would align their external appearance with the [values and principles] that they wish to ingrain within the children. They immediately added that, of course, regarding conducting oneself according to Shulchan Aruch, everything was in order, but several of the counselors did not have a beard. It can be actually seen that the appearance of someone who has a full beard makes an impression on anyone with whom they come in contact, and particularly on children of a young age. Such a person serves as a living example of the image of Jewish spiritual giants which children – and even adults – picture in their minds.

    As is well known, an important Rabbinic leader of the general Jewish community brought several arguments against the ruling of the Tzemach Tzedek in his responsa (Yoreh Deah, responsum 93) [which forbids cutting the beard in any manner]. After [his] analytic discussion [of the matter], one of the listeners asked [the Rabbi]: “How did he picture the image of Moshe Rabbeinu, the receiver of the Torah? Did he have a beard?”

    Without thinking at length, the Rabbinic leader answered: Of course, he had a beard – even though that explicitly, the Tanach only mentioned Aaron’s beard.

    The questioner than asked: If the license to cut one’s beard is so clear in his opinion, why was it so obvious to not only him – but indeed even to non-Jews – that Moshe Rabbeinu had a full grown beard? The logical conclusions of this are obvious.

    Our Sages’ adage: “We do not cry out over the past.” In this instance, however, I am focused more on the future than on the past. May it be G-d’s will that these words be accepted according to their intent, for they were meant for your good and the good of your wife in material and spiritual matters.



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    1. Seminal Source for this Discussion

      The seminal source reference for this discussion is the letter of the Rebbe Rashab, which is (not a letter to a private individual, but rather) a “Public Announcement” addressed (not to Lubavitchers, but) to the entire Klal Yisroel.

      The Rebbe Rashab wrote as follows [translated from the Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rashab, vol. II p.527]:

      “To our Jewish brethren, ‘believers, children of believers’:
      “Since there are many who permit themselves to cut their beards with scissors, basing it on what is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch and declaring that they are acting thus in accordance with the Halacha as stated in Shulchan Aruch —
      It is our obligation to announce publicly that THEY ARE IN ERROR, for this is absolutely prohibited (ISUR GAMOR) according to the Torah itself (MIDORAYSO), as many of the earlier and later Torah giants (Rishonim and Achronim) have proven and clarified that those doing this transgress several Torah prohibitions (KAMO LAV’VIN)..

      “Everyone is obligated to inform his family members of this severe prohibition (ISUR CHOMUR) so that it not be a root for growth of [spiritual] decay from his family. Everyone should be aware that all the issues about which we wrote were stated in accordance with the dictate of our holy Torah (Daas Torah), and whoever transgresses this should know that the sin is upon his head. And whoever listens to our words here shall be blessed with abundant blessings for all good forever.”

      Please share this halachic statement of the Rebbe Rashab with all those who are contemplating the matter under discussion here.

    2. The difference between other “heterim” and cutting the beard is clear.

      Other “heterim” are viewed by the sources of the heter as “l’chatchila.”

      Regarding cutting the beard with scissors, the Rebbe explains that “The differences of opinion [among the Rabbis] involve only whether leniency can be granted due to perceived duress and whether the prohibition is Scriptural or Rabbinic” (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XII, pg. 206; Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, pg. 490, See there where the Rebbe writes further: “According to the Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek and many halachic authorities who preceded him and followed him, [trimming the beard] involves a clear Scriptural prohibition”).

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