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Mar 24, 2020

Covid Habriyos vs CoronaVirus

MK Moshe Abutbol (Shas) has sent a letter to the Minister of Economy and Commerce, Eli Cohen, asking for an exception granted to the closure of businesses due to the COVID-19 [partial] lock-down that includes non-essential businesses.

Abutbol's request is that Cohen grant an exception to the non-essential business closure to the barbershop industry. Currently, Cohen's order prevent barbershops from opening and doing business until after Pesach - at which point I assume the situation will be re-evaluated in general and restrictions will be either lifted, left in place or even possibly made stricter. I think the danger in opening barbershops is obvious, with customers in close proximity to each other and to the barbers, the threat of spreading COVID-19 is significant.

Abutbol wants barbershops excepted because after Pesach people who keep Torah and mitzvos have the custom of not getting haircuts, to commemorate the death of Rabbi Akiva's students (ironically, who may have died of a plague). If barbershops cannot open between now and Pesach, and then people can't get haircuts for 5 or more weeks (as some wait all the way until Shvuos), that is too much time to be reasonable and would be a burden on the people who normally rush to get haircuts before Pesach, before the Omer customs set in.

From the perspective of people needing haircuts, it seems like a reasonable request. Going at least 3 weeks now, plus at least another 5 weeks, is a long time to go with no haircut for most people. From the perspective of the risk of helping CoronaVirus spread, the haircut seems petty and unimportant. And some/many people can cut their own hair at home if they really need to before the holiday.

Maybe a better solution would be asking the Chief Rabbis, either Rabbi Lau or Rabbi Yosef or both, to give an allowance for people to get haircuts after Pesach, during the Omer, when necessary, due to the extenuating circumstances combined with the danger of COVID. They already gave an allowance for weddings during the Omer because of COVID, maybe they can do the same for haircuts.

Covid Habriyos, pun intended, is a serious thing, though I am not sure it is more important than a health danger.

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  1. Certainly getting a haircut is easier to permit than getting married! בכלל מאתיים מנה

  2. First, this may be a classic case of "yotze meBet haAssurim" allowing haircuts on Chol haMoed.

    Second, we see videos online of proper marriage techniques.
    That may be easier than haircuts. Though I think haircuts, if not rushed, may be safely done. Again, I'd prefer they both wear better masks. And not rushed, maybe even less styling, simple haircuts, followed by another haircut in a few weeks, though that might mean during sfirah. So maybe a haircut now, another before Pesach.

  3. I would not go these days to get a haircut, even though I need one.


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