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Back then I assume the only way to cut a beard was with a straight blade--how did Jewish men shave?

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    Who said they shaved? Maybe they only trimmed with scissors? – Salmononius2 Jul 4 '18 at 15:11
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    Is this on-topic? – DonielF Jul 4 '18 at 15:16
  • I thought we had this question already but I can't find it at the moment. But judaism.stackexchange.com/q/51389/170 is related. – msh210 Jul 4 '18 at 15:27
  • I would argue this is in the category of "historical halacha", just as questions like "What did people do before shabbos clocks" or "How did shtetl Jews make Friday night kaddish given the extreme scarcity of grapes in Eastern Europe?" would be, @DonielF – Josh K Jul 4 '18 at 19:47
  • @JoshK Are historical Halacha questions on-topic though? It’s a very gray area in my opinion - while the policy is questions about Jews are allowed as they pertain to Judaism, I’m really not sure if this satisfies that criterion. – DonielF Jul 4 '18 at 20:21
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Prior to the advent of "shaving powders" (and later electric shavers) the only permissible manner in which men could shave their beards was to use a very sharp pair of scissors as an ersatz shaver. This method was discussed in BT Nazir 40a and 58b.

When "shaving powder" (which chemically removes hair) became available, most poskim permitted its use as well.

This teshuva from Rabbi Dov Lizner includes a plethora of information on the topic: https://library.yctorah.org/lindenbaum/halakha-and-electric-shavers/

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