Dear Rabbi Simon
I am aware that the halakhah forbids (a man) from shaving his face with a razor blade. For this reason, I always use an electric shaver. However a friend recently suggested that I can use a razor on my neck and throat. This sounds dangerous to me in more ways than one. What is the halakhah on this?
TY for your interesting and pertinent question.
The Torah (Lev. 19:27) forbids (a man) shaving his face with a razor. The Talmud (Makkot 20a) teaches that there are five “corners” (areas) of the face which are included in this prohibition. Because it is difficult to clearly identify which parts of the face are permitted and which are forbidden, as you rightly say, a man should avoid using a razor (as opposed to an electric shaver, which cuts using a scissors action) on his face altogether. There are those who allow using a razor on the throat and the underside of the face until the chin, as it would seems that these areas are beyond the restricted “corners”. However, doing so brings one to the nearby vicinity of a Torah prohibition, which is transgressed by cutting even two hairs (flush to the skin). For this reason (and others) I would avoid it.
On the back of the neck or below the Adam’s apple, however, a razor may be used (carefully).
Rabbi Rashi Simon