Sunday, April 22, 2007

Is a man allowed to dye his hair?

The Gemara in Makos (20b) says that a man is prohibited from pulling out white hairs. The Rishonim explain that the issur is based on לא ילבש גבר שמלת אשה, this is a feminine thing to do. This is brought down l'halacha in Yoreh Deah סימן קפ"ב סע' ו where the Shulchan Aruch paskens that a man cannot pull out white hairs and likewise he is not allowed to dye his hair. In the same סעיף the Shulchan Aruch paskens that a man is not allowed to look in the mirror.

The Ran in Avoda Zara comments that if the minhag is for men to look in the mirror then it is no longer a feminine activity and it is permitted. This Ran is the basis of the practice today that men use mirrors.

R' Moshe(יו"ד חלק ב סימן ס"א)addresses the issue of a man dyeing his hair for work reasons. He paskens that if a man dyes his hair solely to get a job (he thinks that if he comes with grey hair they will reject him as too old), then he is permitted as it is not done to beautify himself. The שרידי אש the לבוש מרדכי and R' Ovadya Yosef are also lenient in this case.

It would seem to me that nowadays dyeing hair has become like looking in the mirror. it is no longer an exclusively feminine activity and therefore in 2007 just like it is mutar to look in the mirror it may be mutar for a man to dye his hair.


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i was told a few years ago (not by an expert, though), that while men dyeing hair is [generally held to be] asur, men bleaching hair is not. something about adding color being more equatable to beged isha than removing color is.

your sevara, of course, covers both cases.

ADDeRabbi said...

the fact that tehre's a hair dye line called 'just for men' seems to reinforce your thesis.

anonymous said...

if i remember correctly, the rambam would seem to be in opposition to your view. he writes a caveat by shaving ones body-hair that it's permissible if culturally acceptable. he provides no such caveat by hair-dying. (i'd have to recheck his language to see if it's at all possible to try and read it as just a distinction between the norms of the time, and not a halachic one... but i remember the impression of it seeming like an absolute distinction.)