Hair Drying Safety | Harav Y Reuven Rubin Shlita

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The following is from our first published book “A Rabbis Journal” volume one

Hair Drying Safety

By Harav Y Reuven Rubin Shlita

As a seasoned traveler, I have learned to tell the differences between a good hotel, a better one and a full-fledged superior hostelry. Quality shows up in the little things, such as the carefully chosen decor, designer linens and, most tellingly, the restroom. Are there plenty of neatly folded fluffy towels and soft tissues? Are guests greeted by complimentary bottles of niceties such as bath gel, shampoo and conditioner and neatly wrapped soap? It all adds to the ambience of what one is paying good money for.

In recent years the proprietors of hotels have gone into overdrive trying to coax the ever more sophisticated clientele to their premises. More and more tzatzkes can be found in the rooms — shoe shining kits, needle and thread with buttons, huge terry bathrobes, telephones above the bath, and, most impressive of all, huge gun-shaped hair-dryers to blow-dry your hair after the shower.

Now, a hair-dryer is a complete loss for me personally. At my stage in life, awards can be bestowed if one can find the odd follicle that still sprouts forth hair on my head. In this world of politically correct speaking, I can be considered in polite society as “follicly challenged” or, as we used to say, bald. Luckily for me, Chazal have remedied any embarrassment on this count with the halacha of wearing a kappel.

However, I have seen these hair-dryers in hotels and am intrigued by one particular aspect of their design. On the handle of these electrical wonders the following message can be found in large print: “Warning! DO NOT use this device in the shower or bath.”

Let’s stop right here. Who in their right mind would try to dry their hair while still under a running shower? Really, even meshugas has its limits.

Please understand one important fact: such warnings aren’t written stam azoy. No, somewhere in this vast universe of diverse humanity at least one chacham must have tried to use the hair blower in the shower and, after recovering from the electric shock he received, gone on to sue the manufacturer and/or hotel for millions. I cannot for the likes of me conceive of why anyone would try such a trick, but, as we say in Lancashire, “nowt’s as queer as men folk.” Warnings are generally written after events have proven their usefulness.

There is, however, one set of warnings that are Divine and have been given even before the advent of human folly. That, of course, is our Torah Hakedosho, yet, year in, year out, time and again we choose to take chances and disregard Hashem’s instructions.

In teaching Torah to Yidden who have never experienced a Torah lifestyle, one of the hurdles one must surmount is the impression many have that the Torah was given as some kind of obstacle course designed to withhold all enjoyment from living in this world. This stems from a goyishe outlook that sees laws as barriers to all kinds of fun and games. To such people, religion is a sort of penance one lives with because of one’s own guilt. Of course, Torah hashkofoh tells us just the opposite, Torah fine-tunes our sensitivities so that we can in fact truly enjoy this life. Halacha is a path that leads us to real freedom. Freedom from the tyranny of self-delusion and it’s crassness. But, of course, the Torah world knows all about this and doesn’t need Rubin to remind you of it. Yes, but yet we too disregard Hashem’s warnings regularly and as a result suffer immensely.

In Parshas Vayechi we learn of Yaakov Avinu’s blessings to his children. At one point, he says, “Shimon and Levi are brothers. Cursed be their anger for it is fierce and their fury for it is hard.” Rashi tells us that Yaakov pointedly mentioned only their anger as being dangerous; he didn’t focus on the results of that anger. Many times it can be possible that a desirable outcome can be had even if the vehicle to that outcome was not proper. However this isn’t good enough. Anger is wrong and must be analysed truthfully in all events.

Our tzaddikim tell us that anger contaminates the essence of our morality. Morals are pure as long as our own selfishness doesn’t encroach upon them. When anger erupts, often as not it is our bruised ego that becomes the driving force. Words are said, feelings hurt and nothing gained. The pain caused can often never be alleviated. Years later the hurt floats up into our consciousness.

Many are the times that I have tried to help heal broken relationships only to find the core of the problem lay in words or deeds exchanged in a fit of anger. The event had long been forgotten, but subconsciously the hurt lay festering, waiting its turn to wreak havoc. Most anger is about our own self-image, our own sense of how important our time, words or opinions are. Often we can end up arguing about a totally different subject, the driving energy of the disagreement being the previous anger. Chazal speak of this constantly, yet rather than evaluating our motives, we choose to trample along, bellowing and shreiing at every mishap.

Well, dear friends, the warnings are well advertised, and when the shock comes, we have no one to blame but ourselves. So, let us spare a thought for those hair-dryers, and the shock waves we ourselves administer to our lives.

Hachnosas Kalloh Fund

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