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Q: Dear Rabbi,

I have been conscientiously (albeit passively) adhering to the (halakhic) custom of not shaving or getting a haircut during the days of the ‘Omer. Having abstained from these activities for more than a month since before Pesach I am now feeling (and looking) shaggy and craving a shaving. When may I tend to these personal grooming needs?



A: Dear Harry

I have good news for you: Relief is at hand, and a bit sooner for Ashkenazim:

According to the Rema, in his glosses to the Shulkhan ‘Arukh (493:2) when Lag B'Omer falls on Sunday, as it does this year, one may shave and take a haircut on Friday in honour of Shabbos (because if one were to enter into Shabbos unshaven, and were then were to cut his hair on Sunday morning, it would disgrace the honour of the Shabbos). The minhag of the Sephardim however is to wait to shave or take a haircut until the morning of the 34th day of the ‘Omer, i.e. Monday 19th May.

On this subject, I am reminded of the rabbi who waxed lyrical and at length in his Shabbos lecture about how all of nature sings the praises of Hashem, to the point that even the grass in the field offers up a prayer to G-d. The next day a congregant saw the rabbi mowing his lawn. He called out to him, “That’s the idea, Rabbi: Cut your sermons short!”

Happy Lag B’Omer and see you at the Kesher Braai.

rabbi rashi simon

Questions & Answers
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Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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