Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Woman Shaving

The Torah writes [Vayikra 19:27]: Lo sakifu pe’as rosheichem. You shall not round the corners of your head. Here, it is written in a plural form “rosheichem.” Yet, by the destruction of one’s beard, it is written: V’lo sashchis pe’as z’kanecha. And you shall not destroy the corners of your beard. There, it is written in the singular form, “z’kanecha.” Why does the Torah change?

The Meshech Chochmah explains according to the following Rambam (Avodah Zarah 12:5): Although a woman is permitted to shave the corners of her head, she is prohibited from shaving the corners of a man’s head. However, with respect to the prohibition of destructing one’s beard, the Rambam (12:7) writes: A woman is permitted to destroy her own beard if she has beard hair, and if she destroys the beard of a man, she is exempt. It emerges that there is a clear distinction between the halacha of a woman rounding the corners of a man’s head and her shaving a man’s beard.

Accordingly, it can be understood why the Torah uses the plural form when discussing the prohibition of rounding one’s head, for a man and a woman are included in this prohibition. However, with respect to the prohibition of destroying one’s beard, the Torah uses the singular form, because only the man is liable, not the woman.