June 14, 2024
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Rabbi Jachter’s Newest Book Reviews the Halachot of Haircutting

Reviewing: “The Halachic Haircutting Handbook” by Rabbi Chaim Jachter, Binyamin Jachter. Kol Torah Publications. 2021. English. Hardcover. 118 pages. ISBN: 9798730893375.

The exit of the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av presents the perfect opportunity to delve into the halachot of haircutting and shaving, as we pick up our razors once again. A new guide coauthored by the prolific Rabbi Chaim Jachter and his son, Binyamin, a rising senior at Yeshiva University, aims to educate the masses on common Orthodox practices regarding cutting hair.

“[During] the isolation of Pesach 2020,” writes Rabbi Jachter in the opening of “The Halachic Haircutting Handbook,” he and his son set out to clarify the differing views on peyot and electric shavers in particular. This 90+ page read was born from that project. The work is thorough and methodical, with chapters breaking down everything from how far peyot must extend (many opinions in itself), to how close a shave one may do, to the differences between microscreen, foil and wet-and-dry shavers.

The Jachters are big on sources, and everyone from the Shulchan Aruch to anecdotes from YU roshei yeshiva are quoted within. The footnotes are also extremely systematic, sometimes even longer than the regular text of the page! One of the most impressive sections is one in which information from the Gillette and Philips Norelco websites and corporate PowerPoint presentations are used as evidence for why certain electric shavers are permissible even though they are commonly thought not to be.

Sprinkled throughout the intense descriptions of halachot are genuinely interesting pieces of information a reader wouldn’t otherwise come across. For example, did you know that the Zohar says, “Woe to one who lays a hand on his precious beard?”

“Halachic Haircutting” is a well put-together book, and I’d recommend buying a copy. It will serve as both a useful guide to have at home and an interesting Shabbat read.

By Elazar Abrahams

 

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