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Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
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Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ask the Raavad: Haircuts for Women During Sefirah

Questions may be sent to and selected answers will be printed in this column. Answers are transcribed by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis. The answers given here are the general rule, but each case has its merits and drawbacks and must be referred to a posek.

Haircuts For Women During Sefirah

Question: My teenage daughter’s hair has grown longer than she has ever worn it. It does not conform to her level of tznius. May she trim it during Sefirah so that it doesn’t appear so long? Thank you.
D. Weiner

Answer: The minhag is that women do not get haircuts during Sefiras Ha’omer. However, in a case such as yours, where tznius or some other great need is involved, a woman may take a haircut during Sefirah.


During the times of Chazal, 24,000 of the students of Rabi Akiva passed away during the time from Pesach until Shavuos because they did not honor each other properly (Yevamos 62b). As a result, there are a number of customs of mourning that we follow every year during this period. Since the minhagim of Sefiras Ha’omer stem from the halachos of aveilus, in order to clarify any question, we must look at the halachos of mourning. When a man’s parent passes away, it is forbidden for him to take a haircut. He is only allowed to get a haircut when his hair is so long that his friends comment about it and thirty days have passed. Otherwise, he may not take a haircut for the entire year (Yoreh Deah 390:4)

Do women have the same restrictions? Many Rishonim (early commentators) permit a woman to get a haircut after the seven days of aveilus have passed. The Shulchan Aruch follows these opinions and rules that as soon as shivah ends, a woman may cut her hair (Yoreh Deah 390:5). In contrast to the Shulchan Aruch, the Rama (Rav Moshe Isserles) rules stringently and forbids women from getting haircuts during the first thirty days of mourning. However, the consensus of most poskim, including Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:137), is that since refraining from haircuts during Sefiras Ha’omer and the Three Weeks (with the exception of shovuah shechal bo, the week in which Tisha B’Av falls) is only a minhag, it is likely that even the Rama would permit haircuts during these times. Nonetheless, since women have accepted upon themselves not to take haircuts during Sefirah, a woman should avoid getting a haircut unless it is a question of great need.


Although the accepted custom is that women do not cut their hair during Sefirah, if there is a pressing reason she may take a haircut. Certainly, a married woman whose hair is too long and is not covered properly may cut her hair. In regards to an unmarried girl, if she is dating for marriage, maintaining the proper level of tznius is reason to permit getting a haircut. What does this include? Anything which a woman does in the street that attracts attention to her and causes others to look at her (e.g.,perfumes, brightly-colored or tight-fitting clothing, long shaitels, etc.) can be considered a breach in tznius. Therefore, in a situation where her long hair causes her to stand out from other girls, this can be considered a breach in tznius and she may also get a haircut. Parents are obligated to make sure that their daughters follow the proper guidelines of tznius, and we should not take such matters lightly. As much as one tries to watch one’s daughters’ tznius, it is not enough to ensure that they stick to them. In addition to keeping an eye on the way they dress, parents should make sure that their children do not frequent places where others breach tznius through the way they dress, speaking nivel peh, and other actions which do not meet the elevated standards that the Torah expects of us.

The Rambam writes that in his time, it was normal for women to leave the house one or two times a month (Ishus 13:11). Today, many of the boundaries between men and women have been torn down, and women must be very careful in today’s society regarding interaction with men. Especially when a woman takes a job as a secretary or in another context where she is surrounded by men, she must be extremely wary to maintain separation so that she does not stumble. Tznius is one of the foundations of educating Jewish girls and is the way to make sure that they will maintain a life of kedushah. In our times, the tests in tznius are very great and we need to make whatever fences we can to keep our children from being pulled by these negative influences. Teaching girls the halachos of tznius is the only way to make them aware of what is expected of them Many girls get swept away by the tide of fashion and forget about the laws of tznius. It is extremely difficult when everyone is acting a certain way to disregard their behavior and cling to the ways of the Torah. Your daughter should be complimented for her concern with tznius, and you and your wife should certainly do whatever you can to strengthen this attribute.