Hi Rabbi Simon
Following on from last week’s “close shave” question. I have heard many different opinions on “some razors” are kosher because they scissors cut while others are not kosher.
Is there a clear answer/hechsher that exists on which razor to use from a halachic perspective?
I sort of expected this question, and you are not the only one to ask it, on the rebound from last week’s razor Q&A.
At the outset, I would point out that there are sociological as well as Kabbalistic considerations in growing a beard. The comments which follow relate only to the halakhic aspect.
There are broadly three schools of thought on this. The Shulkhan ”Arukh (YD 182:1) says that the prohibition is only with a razor and not with a scissors, even if the scissors cuts close like a razor. Some (Hazon Ish and others) maintain that the distinction is in the closeness of the cut. Therefore modern electric shavers (even though they use a scissors action) are all off limits. Others (among them Har Tzvi YD 143) maintain that since with an electric shaver the blade does not touch the skin, rather the hair follicle is trimmed by being trapped between the blade and the screen, they are all permitted (including lift and cut and other “cutting edge” models). Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 10:14-15) and others maintain that if the blade is sharp enough to cut on its own, without relying on a scissors action, it has the status of a conventional razor and is assur.
Some rely on the second (lenient) view according to which any electric razor is allowed. In order to abide by the view of Rav Moshe (et al), one can check the actual blade and see if it will cut a hair from the back of your hand (for example). (It has been pointed out that very few electric shaver blades are sharp enough to do this.)
A colleague has recommended Philips Series 1000 Dry Men’s electric shaver as acceptable. I am not aware of any lists, possibly because new models are constantly coming to market, so it is difficult to keep up.
Bottom line: There are grounds to rely on any electric shaver. In any case, it seems that few models actually fail the “too sharp” razor test.
rabbi rashi simon