Picture a razor, similar to the one shown below:

picture of a fairly-standard-looking straight-blade shaving razor

It's a Merkur #180 model. If you can tell from the picture, the bottom part of the razor protects the skin against the blade. Nonetheless, the blade can touch the skin.

When one uses it, his face looks identical to when one uses a non-lift-and-cut electronic razor. I even think it leaves more stubble.

My question is: would a razor be kosher to use if it leaves some amount of stubble?

  • 4
    Please note that this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly rabbinic) advice. Treat information from this site like it came from a crowd of your friends, and consult your rabbi for practical guidance.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 19:12
  • 1
    @msh210, unfortunately, not everyone has that convenience.
    – Ani Yodea
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 19:15
  • 4
    Ramin, if you don't, see judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8303.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 19:16
  • 2
    Why would you expect this to be kosher? It looks like a regular razor where each blade can cut on its own? Could you add some information about how it works to the question?
    – Daniel
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 19:34
  • Daniel, edited--it was more wishful thinking than anything logical really.
    – Ani Yodea
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 0:40

1 Answer 1


Borrowing from this answer, which quoted from this site (and setting aside the discussion of electric razors, because they are not the topic at hand):

Rav Moshe Feinstein understood the aforementioned sugyah in accordance with this latter approach. According to this approach, when the Gemara rules that an item which both destroys and shaves is prohibited, and defined this item as being a razor, it did not merely mention a razor as an example of an item that achieves both of these requirements, but mentioned it in order to define which instrument is forbidden by the Torah to use. The Gemara explains that when the Torah forbade destroying and shaving one's beard, the Torah was referring to a razor which achieves both of these functions, and not to other instruments which are categorically permissible. It follows that even if one manipulates scissors to enable it to achieve השחתה, it is still permitted, since the Torah did not forbid the end result, but forbade the use of a specific instrument to achieve this result. What categorizes an item as scissors, which is permitted, or as a razor, which is forbidden, is the fact that a razor cuts using one blade, whereas scissors use two blades to cut.

Based on this thesis, Rav Moshe permitted the use of shavers since they function as scissors, utilizing two blades to cut. The inner blade does not cut by itself, and must be assisted by the outer screen of the shaver. The screen traps a hair within it, and as the inner blade approaches it, the hair rubs along the side of the screen and they both cut the hair simultaneously.28

Although this was Rav Moshe’s primary heter to permit the use of shavers, he had an additional approach that followed a similar line of reasoning. He maintained that the only type of instrument that is prohibited, is one that most people use when they wish to achieve a close shave; all other instruments are permitted. Since most non-Jews use razors when they desire a close shave, all other instruments are therefore permitted. However, if for arguments sake, the general custom would change and people would only use shavers even if they desired a very close cut, razors would be permitted and shavers would be forbidden.29

Footnote 28: Thus I heard in the form of "reliable testimony" (עדות נאמנה) from Rav Belsky, Rav Dovid Feinstein and Rav Reuven Feinstein

Footnote 29: Thus I head from Rav Reuven Feinstein

I think it would follow, then, that any straight blade that cuts on its own as a razor is prohibited for shaving purposes, whether or not it does a good job.

  • What about a two-bladed cartridge razor? And where can I find this teshuva?
    – Yitzchak
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 22:14
  • @Yitzchak, Rav Moshe never published a teshuva on shaving, but told his talmidim and sons his views.
    – Ariel K
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 1:59
  • In that case I will ask some of his closer students who I know.
    – Yitzchak
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 12:40
  • Pretty sure Rabbi Shurkin writes in meged givas olam that he asked this idea about normal way to shave and Rav Moshe got mad abs said that is not the correct understanding, but he did not go on to say what the correct understanding is.
    – user6591
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 6:06

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