Jerusalem – Israeli Rabbi Causes Uproar By Post On Facebook Saying He Shaves During Sefira

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    Jerusalem – A popular Tel Aviv rabbi found himself in the spotlight once again after he created a furor today with a Facebook post explaining why he shaves and takes haircuts during Sefira.

    Rabbi Avi Zarki describes himself on Facebook as a sofer, mesader kiddushim, the head of Machon Midrash Halacha, the chief rabbi of northern Tel Aviv and as the principal mohel in Tel Aviv. He recently came under fire for some controversial comments made last summer regarding bris mila, has allied himself with the highly debated movement to end the practice of using live chicken for kaparos and frequently throws out topics for debate on his Facebook wall.

    In his initial Thursday morning post on the subject, Rabbi Zarki announced that he shaves and cuts his hair during sefira as a topic for debate, a status that drew over one hundred likes and numerous comments, with some asking for clarification on the topic and others wanting to know if they were permitted to do so as well.

    Several commenters mentioned the fact that as a mohel, Rabbi Zarki is permitted to shave and cut his hair when he is performing a bris.

    In a follow up post that was aired shortly after the original one and received even more attention that the initial statement, Rabbi Zarki described the first status on the topic as a successful exercise, saying he posted his position with the intention of creaing an uproar.

    Explaining the reasons behind his actions, Rabbi Zarki said that in addition to being allowed the leniency as a mohel, the most important theme during sefira should not be the aveilus for the talmidim of Rabbi Akiva who died, but rather the actual reason for the deaths of the 24,000 men, which would be their lack of respect for one another.

    “What is the lesson to be learned here?” questioned Rabbi Zarki. “To act respectfully.”

    Rabbi Zarki urged his followers to realize that while many focus on the side issues of not cutting hair or shaving during sefira, our main focus should be to treat each other with honor and respect.

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    17 COMMENTS

      • They use facebook in Israel differently then most Americans do. Just as you would comment here to amuse yourself, they use facebook as a way of communicating their message to the masses (see any story on Yair Lapid as an example)
        This Rabbi isn’t counting his “friends”

    1. His comments about using live chickens for shlugging kaporos were supported by the majority of Israelis who see the issue as more of a pagan ritual with no basis in daas torah (aside from its clear public health and animal cruelty issues). Using money or a fish or a variety of other options he suggested were much more appropriate.

      • Please don’t get started with your “ahm aratzus!” Why do you have a problem with people following minhagim of their families for thousands of years? When you do that you are contributing to the downfall of klal yisroel!

    2. So called rabbi don’t be smarter then chazal and “everything” they said and told us to do we won’t move from it no matter what…. Shame to us that someone is not ashamed to say suck things in public

    3. Belittling those who are makpid about shaving and not cutting hair and using them as props in stirred up controversy is also showing a lack of respect, not just belittling those who belittle the custom of not shaving and not cutting hair.

      So the good Rabbi makes his point by displaying the behavior he condemns. It may be performance art, but is it Torah?

    4. There is over emphasis on observing the mechanics while the spirit and heart of our laws are ignored. The Rabbi appears to just be attempting to redirect our focus to the true core underlying elements of religious observance. He knows that if he just barks dry mussar no one will be interested in listening but if he disguises his message in controversy, people will take note and ultimately may even take the message to heart and connect with mitzvah observance, this time sephira, versus just performing by route.

    5. When I have to go to court, I usually shave my cheeks and neck (I have a full beard) because I’m representing my client and don’t want to look like a shlub. But I do wear a yarmulke in court. In contrast, I’ve seen attorneys who are clearly observing sfira by not shaving who go to court bare headed. It seems to me that the heter to cover one’s head and the heter to shave during sfira are similar, so I’m surprised that if they feel that they can’t cover their heads for the sake of their client, they should also try to look professional for their clients.

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