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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Metzora – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Haircuts During Chol HaMoed

by Rabbi Dov Linzer (Posted on April 18, 2024)
Topics: Metzora, Rosh Yeshiva Responds, Sefer Vayikra, Torah

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וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יְגַלַּח אֶת־כָּל־שְׂעָרוֹ אֶת־רֹאשׁוֹ וְאֶת־זְקָנוֹ וְאֵת גַּבֹּת עֵינָיו וְאֶת־כָּל־שְׂעָרוֹ יְגַלֵּחַ

And it shall be on the seventh day, he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows; all his hair he shall shave off.” (Vayikra 14:9)

QUESTION—Washington, D.C.

Chag Sameach! Mo’adim LeSimchah! Suppose someone had been working 80-100 hours a weeks as a doctor leading up to Friday night coming into Shabbat and was unable to get a haircut in advance of Yom Tov. His vacation starts Friday night before chag and lasts for the duration of Pesach. Does this level of involvement in one’s job qualify as הבא ממנידת הים שיצא לסחורה vis-a-vis permitting a haircut during Chol HaMoed when the person is off work for vacation in advance of Yom Tov HaAcharon shel Pesach?


Yes, there is no question that he can. There is no reason to think that the list in the Mishnah and in Shulchan Arukh OC 531:4 regarding who can shave/get a haircut during Chol HaMoed (someone freed from prison, someone who came from a distant location, etc.) should be limited to exactly those cases. Being a formalist here makes no sense. Arukh HaShulchan OC (531:3,5) makes it clear that the rule is what dictates and these cases are just classic examples:

ומ”מ יש שהתירו לו חכמים לגלח בחול המועד והיינו בדברים שהכל יודעים הסיבה למה לא גילח קודם הרגל ולא יהיה מזה קלקול לאחרים אם נתיר כמו ששנינו במשנה…

וכן הבא ממרחקים בחול המועד שהדבר מפורסם אבל מדרך קרובה אסור לו לגלח שאין הכל יודעים ואפילו בא ממרחקים בעיו”ט קודם הלילה ולא היה לו שהות ביום לגלח מותר לו לגלח בחול המועד… וכן אלו אף שהתירו להם לגלח מ”מ לא יגלחו את עצמם בפרהסיא אלא בצינעא דשמא יש שאינם יודעים העניין ויבואו לזלזל בגילוח בחול המועד

Nevertheless, there are cases that the Sages permitted a person to shave on Chol HaMoed, and those were in situations where everyone knew the reason why the person had not shaven before the Yom Tov. There was thus no concern that permitting such cases would lead other people to act improperly…

Similarly, if a person came from a faraway place on Chol HaMoed, such that it was well-known that he had just returned from a journey, he would be permitted to shave. But when he returned from a nearby location, it would be forbidden for him to shave, since not everyone would know that he had been traveling. Even if he came back from a distant place on erev Yom Tov before nightfall, if he didn’t have an opportunity to shave before Yom Tov, he is permitted to shave on Chol HaMoed… Similarly, even those who are permitted to shave on Yom Tov should not shave in the public space, but rather in a private location, for there may be people who don’t know the specifics of the case, and they will come to treat lightly the restriction against shaving on Chol HaMoed.

This case obviously satisfies the requirement that he had no chance to do it earlier, and I feel confident that – given that he is a doctor and I assume that people in the community have a sense of his hours, etc., – this is also a case of מיפרסמא מילתא, the situation is well known.

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