I have heard that the Shadal used a razor to remove his beard, justifying it for himself through the Ibn Ezra's interpretation of Vayikra 19:27 that the prohibition would only be for shaving the beard for the dead. Is this true, and if so, how would this be allowed if there are no authorities that permit this?

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    Is the Shadal not himself an authority capable of ruling? – DonielF Feb 21 at 3:42
  • @DonielF judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12646/759 I agree that the "how would this be allowed" part is an unproductive question. If he did it it's because he thought he could. – Double AA Feb 21 at 13:16
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    Shadal was not a strictly orthodox Jew; see e.g., torahmusings.com/2016/01/shadal-and-the-orthodox-canon – wfb Feb 21 at 15:53
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    @wfb that just depends how you define Orthodox – Double AA Feb 21 at 16:46
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    @DoubleAA under what definition can one be orthodox while explicitly rejecting chazal's interpretation of halacha? – wfb Feb 23 at 1:34

Shadal himself admits to this in a letter to Shlomo Yehuda Rapaport published in Igrot Shadal Volume II p.246:

ואני גם כי אינני מאוהביו כבר קיבלתי פירושו (נגד ההלכה) בפסוק לא תקיפו פאת ראשכם שאינו אלא על מת וקִבלתיו לעצמי למעשה אע"פ שאין אני מורה כן לאחרים כי אין לי עסק בהוראה

As for me, though I am not one of [Ibn Ezra's] friends, I have already accepted his explanation (against the halacha) in the verse [Leviticus 19:27] "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads", that it is only over the dead. And I have accepted it for myself in practice even though I do not rule as such for others since I have no business in ruling.

Here is an image of the relevant portion of the letter:

Image of page of book

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    I'm not familiar with this Ibn Ezra, but is his comment only on rounding the corners of the head or also on destroying the corners of the beard – robev Feb 21 at 16:15
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    Wow. +1 What does he mean 'against halacha'? Against accepted halacha, or against what he also believes is true halacha, but for whatever reasoning he feels he can utilize this Ibn Ezra? – user6591 Feb 21 at 17:15

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