by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Question: Is one allowed to have a hair cut, during the 50 Days of the Omer Count?
During the period of the Omer, we follow a number of customs related to mourning - a kind of semi-national-mourning. One of those customs is to NOT cut hair (including not shaving, even if one does so in a permitted fashion during other times).
However, there is significantly different customs (minhagim) regarding WHEN during the Omer period this period of mourning lasts...
- MOST hold from the end of Passover until Lag B'Omer.
- Some don't begin the period until Chodesh Iyar.
- Many chassidim (and others) continue the period from the end of Lag B'Omer until Shavuos, but others don't.
- All hold that Lag B'Omer itself is exempted, and do cut hair - hold weddings - celebrate - listen to music - on Lag B'Omer.
For those who hold the custom until the end of the Omer, there is disagreement on when "preparation for Shavuos" begins and therefore hair should be cut...
- Some say from the first day of the week in which Shavuos falls.
- Some say 3 days before.
The Chabad custom is from the day after Passover (the end of the full week of Passover) until the end of the Omer, with preparation for Shavuos starting 3 days before.
It should be noted that ALL of this is in the realm of custom (minhag). The general statement is from the Gemora, that during the period of the Omer we mourn for the loss of the students of Rabbi Akiva, and more for the loss of what 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva could have accomplished (being he had only 4 students afterwards and they changed the Torah world).
We should not make the mistake of overly focusing on the mourning customs and not focusing on the reasons for the mourning, namely a lack of unity and appreciation for our fellow Jew at the highest level, appreciating their kosher differences and positions for the representation of the facets of Torah and the path of Hashem that they are.
In a time when the religious Jewish world is hyper-divided by sect/custom/chassidus yet living side by side, we need to invest special effort in doing more than just respecting each other's differences, we must come to actually appreciate them! That is the heights of ahavas yisroel, love of our fellow, that is demanded to offset the errors of sinat chinam, senseless hatred - jealousy - nit picking of others, that destroyed us in the past and threaten us now.
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BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא