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"Help! My beard/hair is turning white."

May a man pull out the white hairs from his beard/hair?

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Why not? (Where does this question originate?) –  Isaac Moses Jun 15 '11 at 17:37
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@Isaac, certain grooming practices generally associated with women may be considered a violation of "a man should not adopt a woman's garb"; I've certainly heard it mentioned in the context of dying one's beard from grey to black. –  Shalom Jun 15 '11 at 17:50
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And additional two cents of meta. PLEASE JUST ASK THE QUESTION AS THE QUESTION TITLE ALREADY. Save us the shticky header, or add it in below. I'd advise the QUESTION TITLE should be "May a person pull out the white hairs from his beard/hair?"; then in the room for more detail you can add in whatever interesting tidbits you like. –  Shalom Jun 15 '11 at 17:52
    
@Gershon I've never said differently. We want high-quality questions. We want high-quality answers even more. –  Isaac Moses Jun 15 '11 at 18:03
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It is well known and widely practiced that men may not dye their hair, as this is considered a violation of "Lo Yilbash" (not Tilbash, btw). But I believe this is limited to hair on one's head. Or logically it should be. On a practical level, how common is it for women to pluck gray hairs from their faces to leave behind a nice, dark beard? I think that if a woman has any facial hair, she would likely pluck ALL the hairs on her face, not seek to give herself a rich, dark-looking beard. –  Seth J Jun 15 '11 at 19:06
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4 Answers

This is discussed in Mesechet Makkot (20b approximately) - I believe in Rashi or Tosafot if not the Gemara's text itself - in the context of destroying your beard/hair. From a cursory glance, it's considered to be a violation of that commandment and if you were to do so, you would be liable to receive lashes, provided a correct warning and corroborated testimony, etc. Thus, it seems there is a good precedent for it to be forbidden either in the context of destroying your beard/hair or because of "beged isha", as other answers have covered.

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Isn't plucking permitted because it isn't shaving (you need both hashchasa and ta'ar for it to be d'oraisa)? –  Yitzchak Jun 16 '11 at 2:18
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As I recall from a Shiur I heard about this, there's a Machloket and plucking is problematic by at least one opinion. –  Zvi Jun 16 '11 at 3:11
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The piece is referring to Shabbos. Normally, in order to be liable a korban, a person would need to pluck a significant amount of hair (Machlokes 1 or 2). Plucking white from the black, everyone agrees that 1 hair would make you liable, since the removal of that hair is significant to one who wishes to look younger. –  YDK Jun 16 '11 at 6:58
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The Shaalos U'Teshuvos Minchas Shlomo (Chelek 2 Siman 82 Ois 7) discusses whether a man may have plastic surgery when it is being done due to discomfort rather than for beautification. For example if his nose is very unusual. The Minchas Shlomo writes that it is allowed. In addition he writes that for this reason it is permitted to dye or pluck white hairs for a young man where according to his age it is considered a deficiency, and his only reason he is doing it is in order not to have this deficiency.

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Although Shulchan Aruch YD 182:6 forbids a man to do so, placing it in the category of "women's dress", he continues to forbid looking in a mirror as well.

A parenthetical notation (Rema?)is made following the mirror halacha sending you to YD 156 were the Rema quotes those who say that this law is dependant on whether men customarily look in a mirror or if this practice is exclusive to women.

This same distinction would apply to your case. Perhaps this was not mentioned because it was (possibly) illogical at the time to want to look younger.

(As usual, consult a competent authority.)

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Nowadays, it is even a mitzvah to look at a mirror, e.g. to adjust one's tefillin shel rosh. So that prohibition no longer exists. –  Adam Mosheh Jan 31 '12 at 5:46
    
@Adam, I know a talmid chacham who learned in the Mir a few decades ago. One of his nicknames was the Mishna Berura Yid because he would look in a small mirror to adjust his tefilin. Apparently not everyone accepted that recommendation. –  YDK Jan 31 '12 at 18:04
    
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/17124/1601 –  Dov F Jun 22 '12 at 1:42
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Here's a quote from Halacha for Today (Question 260):

Q: Could you tell me if it is permissible for a man to dye his hair?

A: A man may not dye his hair if doing so for beauty or to hide white hair etc. as this is a biblical transgression of "Lo Tilbash" not to wear (or otherwise imitate) the ways of the opposite gender. This includes dying hair, plucking out even one white hair for a man, wearing clothing of the opposite gender, men shaving areas of the body that are shaved generally by women, etc. These are very severe prohibitions and a Rav should be consulted to determine what does and does not fall into the prohibition of Lo Tilbash.

See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 171:3.

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I'm curious what Rabbis who permit men shaving say regarding this law? Do they say that shaving a white hair would be a added problem? Or do they say it no longer applies, since it is common for men shave these days? And if so, would that mean that they say would also say you could pluck the hair out? –  Menachem Jun 15 '11 at 18:11
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