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.