Is there a prohibition against long hair for an Orthodox Jewish man? If there is, at what length? Past ears? Shoulder? At what point is it considered long hair?


3 Answers 3


This is an argument amongst the achronim.

See Yoreh Deah siman 178. The Shulchan Aruch writes not to grow one's hair like the non Jews do and not to shave the sides while leaving the hair on top.

Shach there #1 brings the Ateres Zahav who says this is actually all one prohibition. Don't grow hair like them which is shaven on the sides etc. The Shach goes on to quote the Bach who says there are two separate prohibitions and the prohibition to grow hair refers to growing it for beauty like the girls do, which (for men) is disgusting and haughty. The Prisha writes the same.

  • Follow-up on the 2nd par. Could one infer from Yoreh De'ah that a man should not wear a ponytail regardless of the hair length?
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:31
  • What do you mean?
    – user6591
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:36
  • In your answer, you mention 2 aspects: 1) Not to grow one's hair long as Gentiles do and 2) grow it for beauty as girls do. My question is if a ponytail for a man would fall into either of these categories.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:40
  • From a theoretical point of view, we can perhaps point to the Magen Avraham in hilchos krias shema siman 75 who says girls didn't leave their hair loose as a matter of humility, tznius. (Yes I am translating the word tznius the way it is meant all over shas and poskim, not in the modern colloquial sense.) so at least theoretically a pony would not be the same degree of haughtiness. But that's just my 2c. Unless the Bach/Prisha were referring to a girl whose hair was in a pony, and they still called it haughty for a man to do.
    – user6591
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:47
  • 2
    "growing it for beauty" This doesn't seem to be about any large length per se, but rather any length done intentionally (not just out of laziness). So any purposeful hair style length choice is a problem. (Ex. people who "like" to get a #3 trim instead of a #2.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 16:04

R. Heshie Billet records the following story in Mentor of Generations: Reflections on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

At YU this Boston boy was one of the organizers of a big protest. Flyers went up all over campus. The flyers included some comments about Israel. The Rov was strongly opposed to mixing Israel with Vietnam. At the beginning of shiur one say, he had that boy summoned into his classroom on the fourth floor of Furst Hall. The boy came in wearing jeans and sandals, sporting long hair and a scraggly beard. The Rov told him that he had until the end of shiur to change the flyers by deleting Israel from them. The boy dutifully complied. Toward the end of the day’s shiur he returned to show the Rov the new flyer. Satisfied, the Rov complimented the young man and told him that he had acted like a real ben Torah [literally, “child of the Torah”; a learned person]. The class erupted in laughter.

Later the Rov mentioned to me that he was quite upset with the students in the shiur for laughing. “I know why they laughed,” he said. “But who says that short hair and a clean-shaven face are what the Torah wanted?”


As other people have mentioned in the comments:

Nazirites had to have long hair as part of their vow. It's hard to conceive that the Biblical Category of Nazirites, given directly from the Torah by God, and associated with higher holiness, would be violating a prohibition. Also the Rabbis in the gemara never mention anything problematic with the Nazirites having long hair.

Also there have been Jewish groups that have been discovered to have the minhag of having long hair. One such group is the Habbani tribe of Yemenite Jews:

enter image description here

In short: Even if there were Orthodox groups or communities that explicitly or implicitly discouraged men from growing long hair, they don't have much of a Biblical (or Halakhic) foundation to stand on. And anyone who says it's not proper for "Jews" to have long hair are insulting the Jewish communities who have a minhag of long hair.

  • But what if it's not your minhag?
    – ezra
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 16:50
  • 1
    @Ezra so then you don't have to have long hair? Doesn't mean you can't have it. As a Sephardic Jew I don't have a minhag to grow peyot but I don't think anyone would stop me because it's "not my minhag."
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 20:42
  • @Aaron I assume you mean what's nowadays referred to as peyot, rather than actual halachic peyot.
    – user15253
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 11:27
  • Could this reference in Ezekiel 44:20 concerning Kohenim and Leviim have any bearing on customs of Jewish hair in general? 20And [the hair of] their heads they are not to shave but also not to let it grow wild; they must be careful to trim the hair of their heads. כוְרֹאשָׁם֙ לֹ֣א יְגַלֵּ֔חוּ וּפֶ֖רַע לֹ֣א יְשַׁלֵּ֑חוּ כָּס֥וֹם יִכְסְמ֖וּ אֶת־רָֽאשֵׁיהֶֽם: And [the hair of] their heads they are not to shave: to remove all the hair. but also not to let it grow wild: They may not let their hair grow very long. Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .