Hadras Ponim Zokon

Regarding Which Practice of Bnei Torah Did The Chazon Ish Write:
"My Soul Burns With Rage"?

Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish

As the Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish is observed on 15 Marcheshvan, please share with those who venerate his opinion the following quotation from his nephew, HaGaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, from his sefer Orchos Yosher (chapter 5):

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.

Our teacher the Chazon Ish was highly displeased with this practice. His displeasure was not only with the shaving machines used today, about which the Chofetz Chayim has already written - in Likkutei Halochos, Makkos 21b, in Ein Mishpot 7 - that one transgresses the prohibition of "They shall not shave the corner of their beard." The Chazon Ish was very strict about shaving machines of all kinds, and did not permit selling one even to a Jew who shaves with a razor in order to save him from the prohibition of using a razor, but instructed [the inquirer] to sell it to a non-Jew.

[In addition, the Chazon Ish] was highly displeased even with those who shave using a depilatory cream - called in Hebrew "sam" [chemical].

The Chofetz Chayim wrote an entire work on this subject called Tiferes Odom, where he writes: "It is proper to take care not to cut the beard even with scissors, for the Kabbalists write that thereby one uproots the channels of [the flow of] Kedusha from Above. Our fathers and ancestors in our land were accustomed to observing this strictly. Especially today when many of the lawless elements of our nation have the practice of shaving with a razor, it is a great Mitzva for the whole Jewish people to reinforce this observance and not to trim the beard even with scissors, thereby showing everyone that the commandments the Torah has given us to distinguish the Jewish man [from the non-Jew] are precious to us and that we are not ashamed of them, G-d forbid."

In Kovetz Igros (volume I, #197) of our teacher, the Chazon Ish, he writes about the "sam" [depilatory cream]: "If it is not a "sam hamovess" [poison], it is not a "sam hachayim" [lifegiving potion] either, and I find this matter very painful, for it is against the [Jewish] quality of modesty and is not the Jewish style of dress but [Jews] have learned it from the non-Jews during their exile, thereby negating Kedusha." In another letter (#198) he writes: "I have never accepted the behavior of those who remove their beards [with scissors] similar to [the effect of] a razor [close cutting], for I am accustomed to this being prohibited since the previous generations, and [the prohibition] was very severe - like walking in the street with one’s head uncovered - and was considered like changing one’s clothing from the Jewish style of dress. 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."

He [the Chazon Ish] once said that when someone who removes his beard... comes in to see him, he feels so sick that he almost vomits...

May Hashem Yisborach give us the privilege of observing the Jewish appearance according to the Torah’s requirements.


This concludes the quotation from sefer Orchos Yosher (chapter 5), by HaGaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita.

To view the position of the Chazon Ish regarding trimming the beard (even when it impacts on Shidduchim), please click here.

To view the position of the Chazon Ish as to whether the beard is considered "Midas Chasidus" or an integral requirement of our Torah, please click here.

Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon may be purchased at your local sefarim store and on-line at:

To order sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon (Hebrew) on-line

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