Ask the rabbi

  • Halacha
  • Shaving

Depilatory Creams


Rabbi David Sperling

Cheshvan 8, 5781
What would be the halakha as per men using depilatory creams to remove body hair? Is it preferred to shaving? Is shaving prohibited?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The halacha about men shaving is an involved one (please search our site with the word “shaving” and you will find much information about this issue). Bottom line is that halacha forbids men from using a razor blade to shave their beards. The use of electric shavers (while be debated by great Rabbis) is widely accepted by large segments of the religious world. As to the use of depilatory cream – this was once a widely used method for Jewish men to remove their beards (before electric shavers). See for example the Kitzor Shulchan Aruch (170,2) “The Torah forbids shaving the corners of the beard, only when done with a razor. The beard has five "corners" and there are many opinions as to what they are. Therefore, a God-fearing Jew, should not use a razor on any part of the beard, even on his upper lip or under the chin. There is no difference between a razor and a sharp stone which cuts the hair, such as pigment or pumice stone, which are also forbidden. Those who remove their beard by means of a cream prepared from lime and avirem, should be careful not to scrape off the cream with a knife, which might cut the hair; but they should scrape it with a strip of wood or something similar.” From a purely halachic viewpoint using such cream may be preferred by some opinions, as it avoids the issues of an electric shaver (which, as we mentioned are debated by great Rabbis). However, the widespread practice is use electric shavers and not creams. Note, then when using such creams one much be careful to scraped the hair off without using a knife. Blessings.
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