Suppose the following situation:

Reuvain is a religious Jew who runs a barber shop. One day Shimon, a non-religious Jew, walks into Reuvain's barber shop and sits down for a haircut. Shimon asks for a haircut that would be prohibited by Torah, as it completely shaves the sideburns. Would Reuvain be allowed to cut Shimon's hair this way?

Of course, we're going to assume that shaving the sideburns is against the Torah, as I'm pretty sure there are many who do not agree this is what the Torah meant in Vayikra 19:27 when it said, "do not round the edges of your beard." So really just any haircut that would shave the peyos area, wherever that may be according to your religious interpretation.


Makkot 20b:

אחד המקיף ואחד הניקף לוקה
both the one who rounds and the one who is rounded are lashed

The Gemara is then troubled how someone who is rounded is lashed and gives a few possible answers (he leaned in to assist in the rounding, he rounds himself, or it's the opinion that prohibitions without actions get lashes) but the important thing here is that the obvious part of the prohibition is exactly your case: an adult man is prohibited to round the hair of an adult man.

It's not immediately obvious that having a non-Jew or woman (who aren't included in the prohibition) cut an adults man's hair is even forbidden for him at all (depending on which answer of the Gemara there we take, though in the end we (ShA YD 181:4) do rule stringently on that). There are even opinions (which we don't accept cf. ShA YD 181:5), that an adult man cannot round the hair of a gentile or woman even though they could definitely round it themselves. We (ibid.) actually do allow a gentile to completely round a child's hair.


Shulchan Aruch (YD 181:5) states that one who cuts the sideburns of a child is liable for violating this mitzvah. Obviously then, one who cuts the sideburns of an adult would also be liable.

Rema adds that one may cut the sideburns of a non-jew or a woman, and that some forbid even this.

  • I'm sorry, but I don't quite see how this answers my question. – ezra Jun 2 '17 at 17:51
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    @ezra You wanted to know if a barber can cut a fellow Jew's hair in a manner forbidden by the Torah. If one is liable for cutting it then it's forbidden. – Ploni Jun 2 '17 at 17:53
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    This isn't obvious. First, as stated it's not even technically true (or at the very least is a gross misrepresentation of the source). Second, an adult has Da'at and is independant so could be considered liable, whereas since a minor doesn't have a "choice" the prohibition could have transferred. – Double AA Jun 2 '17 at 18:21

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