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Hair Spray on Purim for Boys

Is it muttar for a boy over bar mitzvah to color his hair with hairspray for Purim dress up?


This is usually done in a way that is not feminine in nature, rather funny and outlandish [in a way no woman would ever dye their hair]. This would be permitted on Purim.


A common type of Purim costume, especially for children, is to dress girls as boys and boys as girls, either partially or completely. The question that needs to be discussed is whether this is permitted.

This is not a new issue, but rather something that was debated by the Rishonim, as this custom existed even then. One Rishon states that “Gedolim and Chasidei olam” saw “their sons, daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law… change their clothing from men’s clothes to women’s and vice versa. And if there would have been the slightest sin, chalilah that they should be silent and not protest” (Shu”t Mahari Mintz, end of #15).

The Torah warns (Devarim 22:5), “A man’s attire shall not be on a woman, nor may a man wear a woman’s garment.” Although this would indicate that one may never wear any garment belonging to the opposite gender, some Rishonim maintain that it all depends on one’s intent. It is only forbidden if one does it in order to sit among members of the opposite gender or if one’s intention is to commit a sin. Being that when one dresses this way on Purim his intention is for Simchas Purim, it is permitted (ibid.).

Another reason to be lenient is based on what was an accepted practice during the time of the Rishonim. During that era they had an interesting method of entertaining the chasan and kallah at their wedding: young men riding horses would have a jousting match! The halacha is that if they tore each other’s clothing while doing so, they are exempt from paying damages, since they were doing so because of simchas chasan. Based on this, the Rishonim maintain that if someone damages someone else’s property due to simchas Purim, he is likewise exempt.

With regards to wearing clothing of the opposite gender, some Rishonim rule leniently with the contention that if we “permit” one to transgress the Torah prohibition of stealing because of simchas chasan or simchas Purim, i.e., damaging someone’s property, as mentioned previously, we should likewise allow one to be lenient with the prohibition of men wearing women’s clothing.

Other Rishonim however disagree and contend that Simchas Purim is not a sufficient reason to relax prohibitions. (See Darchei Moshe, Orach Chaim 696). The Remaquotes both opinions and concludes that the custom is to follow the lenient opinion. This is also the view of many of the poskim (Levush 696; Mateh Moshe #1014).

However, other Acharonim disagree with the Rema and the basis for the lenient ruling. They quote other Rishonim who forbid the practice of wearing clothing of the opposite gender in order to entertain the chasan and kallah during a chasunah. Thus we see that even for the purposes of simcha one may not be lenient in this prohibition.

Additionally, the fact that one is not liable for damaging someone’s clothing duringsimchas chasan or simchas Purim is not a reason to permit other prohibitions. When it comes to monetary claims, there is a concept called, “hefker beis din, hefker” – beis din has the authority to declare someone’s property ownerless. Therefore, if someone damages property during simchas chasan, the property owner cannot claim damages because beis din has in effect declared that item ownerless before it was damaged. With regards to other prohibitions however, there are no such dispensation (Bach,Orach Chaim 696, quoting Rabbeinu Eliezer mei’Mitz; Taz, Yoreh De’ah 182:4).

The Mishnah Berurah (696:30) quotes the stringent opinion and writes that one should abolish the custom of wearing clothing of the opposite gender. However, he quotes the ruling of the Pri Megadim that one should not protest upon seeing a person who is otherwise properly attired but he is also wearing one article of clothing of the opposite gender. Yet, he concludes with the words of the Shelah HaKadosh, that one should distance oneself from such things.

There is a disagreement among contemporary poskim whether one may dress a child under the age of bar or bas mitzvah in clothing of the opposite gender. Some maintain that it is forbidden because of the mitzvah of chinuch and one may not put his child in a position where he will transgress an issur (Dinim v’Hanhagos l’Chazon Ish 21:10;Shu”t Yechave Da’at vol.V #50; Shu”t Mishnah Halachos, vol. III #148).

Others contend that since the Rema holds that the minhag follows the lenient opinion, there is no prohibition in dressing children in this manner (Sefer HaKatan v’Hilchosav34:10). In our case it would seem permitted according to all opinions as he is not actually dressing as the opposite gender, as mentioned earlier. 

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