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Shevat 14, 5775

Men eyebrow plucking


Rabbi David Sperling

Question:
Hi Rabbi,

I wanted to ask, is it permissible for me to pluck the hair between my eyebrows with a tweezer, if it is a common practice that men here plucks between their eyebrows with a tweezer. I used to pluck my eyebrows with tweezers before, but I stopped since I used to do it more for beautification purposes, but also it would be embarassing. How ever I dont feel embarassed for this in my current situation anymore.. However my sister has been on me for a while now wanting me to remove it because it looks "unhygienic" and it doesnt look nice. She is going to fix a job for me, and according to her she says that I might not get that job if I dont tweeze my eyebrows. I personally think that she is just saying this so that I should remove it, but it could also be true that they might not let me work there in the future as looks can be important. So would it be permissible for me or not?

Answer:
Shalom,
Thank you for your question. As you are aware there is a prohibition for men to pluck their eyebrows (as well as remove pubic and hair, etc). This falls under the Torah commandment for men refrain from "dressing" as women, and includes other activities that are usually associated with feminine grooming. (See Deut. 22,5). This can be found in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah, 182).
However, there may be room to rule leniently in your case based on a number of factors. Firstly, we find that certain activities that used to restricted to women (and therefore forbidden to men under this command) became widespread for men also, at which point they became permitted to men. (This was true with using a mirror for example). None the less, it is not clear at all that this is the case with plucking eyebrows – and I have not found any source to rely upon that today this is an acceptable practice for Jewish men.
Secondly, there are sources that permit these types of feminine grooming where the intent is purely to attain a job (see for example Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah, 2, 61 in relation to dyeing one's hair). Others permit such actions if the intent is not for beauty, but rather to remove embarrassment (see S'riday Aish 2,40). However, here too, I am hesitant to give you an outright ruling that this is permitted for you. Your question itself expresses doubts as to the true intent involved in your sister's desire to have you pluck your eyebrows. If you can honestly attest to yourself that the need to pluck your eyebrows is not to do with beautifying yourself, but only in order to attain employment, or to remove embarrassment, then you have great Rabbinic opinion on whom to rely. If though, you are unsure of your motives, it would be best to refrain.
Blessings.



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