Let me start off by saying, that I know that cutting hair and nails on shabbos is prohibited. My question is, is it a biblical or rabbinical prohibition. In my mind it seems rabbinic because when you look at the melacha of gozez (shearing) and look at what purpose they did it in the mishkan, they sheared wool and other materials off livestock to make clothing curtains and other items. Regarding cutting hair and nails however you usually throw them in the garbage. So wouldn't cutting hair and nails be a מלאכה שאן צריכה לגופה?

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    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 18:31

3 Answers 3


The Biur Halacha (340:1 ד"ה וחייב) addresses this question at significant length. Here is an abridged synopsis:

Rivash (394) explains that cutting hair and nails in order to enhance one's appearance is מלאכה הצריכה לגופה similar to the shearing of hair on the Oros Ailim that was performed to enhance the appearance of the ram skins. This is also the opinion of the Rivash's rebbe, the Ran, the Rosh, Rabenu Chananel and others as stated in the Biur Halacha.

(However, Gra (ibid) uses this halacha as a proof for the Rambam's opinion that מלאכה שאן צריכה לגופה is chayyav, but the other Rishonim who hold that it is patur must be following the Rivash's approach.)


Have a look at eh Mishna in Shabbos 10:6

הנוטל ציפורניו זו בזו או בשיניו, וכן שיערו, וכן שפמו, וכן זקנו, וכן הגודלת, וכן הכוחלת, וכן הפוקסת--רבי אליעזר מחייב חטאת, וחכמים אומרים משום שבות. התולש מעציץ נקוב, חייב; ושאינו נקוב, פטור. רבי שמעון פוטר בזה ובזה

The Bartenura says: When Chachamim say that you are Patur from a Korban, it's only when cutting the hair & nails by hand. But if you use an instrument then Chachamimi agree with רבי אליעזר that you are חייב.

The עיקר תוי"ט sources this as coming from the Gemara - but adds that Tosafot their say that this goes according to the opinion of R' Yehuda that מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה חייב.

The Bartenura continues that cutting a friend's hair - even by hand - is חייב.

The עיקר תוי"ט complains that he didn't explain himself, and adds that it seems from the Gemara that that one can cut - by hand - one's own hair better than one can cut a friend's hair.

From this I understand that the problem of cutting hair is not so much (or "not only") what you will do with the hair, but there is a מלאכה to trim and make something look nice.

This would fit in nicely with the Rivash mentioned in Yoni's answer.

  • danny i believe im only receving half an answer. what about the גופה of the melacah. it still appears to be a מלאכה שאין צריכה לגופה. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 2:19
  • @DavidFeigen - Have a look at תוספות in Chagiga 10b מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה - a good starting point for the definition of מלאכה שאין צריכה לגופה. (Do I need the hair or do I want the haircut; seems Rashi and Tosafos argue on this point.) toratemetfreeware.com/online/f_01139.html#HtmpReportNum0017_L2 Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 7:48

Mishna Berura 340:1:2 says that cutting hair with a tool on Shabbos is a biblical prohibition.

  • 1
    Is the hair being used to weave cloth?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 14:22
  • This only addresses half of the question.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 15:59

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