1) TRAVELING FOR PLEASURE
OPINIONS: The Gemara records a dispute between Rebbi Yehudah and the Rabanan with regard to the allowance for a person who returns on Chol ha'Mo'ed from a trip abroad to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed. Rava says that both Rebbi Yehudah and the Rabanan agree that if he went on a pleasure trip "she'Lo b'Reshus" ("without permission") he may not shave upon his return on Chol ha'Mo'ed. If he went abroad in order to support himself and his family, everyone agrees that he may shave. They disagree only in a case in which a person went abroad in order to make a profit (but already has the means to support himself and his family). The Rabanan permit him to shave upon his return, while Rebbi Yehudah prohibits him from shaving.
In what way is traveling for pleasure considered to be "without permission," such that one may not shave upon his return?
(a) The RA'AVAD (cited by the ROSH 3:1) quotes the Yerushalmi which says that Rebbi Yehudah is consistent with his opinion expressed elsewhere. Rebbi Yehudah rules that one "may not travel in the sea." The Yerushalmi explains that if one embarks on a trip to Chutz la'Aretz and returns to Eretz Yisrael on Chol ha'Mo'ed, he may not shave because his departure was not sanctioned by the Chachamim. The Ra'avad explains that the Yerushalmi understands "she'Lo b'Reshus" to mean that the traveler transgressed a prohibition by leaving Eretz Yisrael to travel to Chutz la'Aretz.
According to this explanation, the Mishnah refers to a person who lives in Eretz Yisrael and who leaves to Chutz la'Aretz. The Gemara says that he is prohibited to leave Eretz Yisrael for a pleasure trip to Chutz la'Aretz, but he is permitted to leave in order to earn a living. Therefore, if a person takes a pleasure trip to Chutz la'Aretz and returns to Eretz Yisrael on Chol ha'Mo'ed, he is not permitted to shave until after the festival, since he was not permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael in the first place. If he went to Chutz la'Aretz to earn a living he may shave upon his return on Chol ha'Mo'ed because his departure to Chutz la'Aretz was permitted.
(b) RASHI (DH Mipnei she'Yatza) apparently does not follow the approach of the Ra'avad. Rashi writes that the phrase "she'Lo b'Reshus" does not mean "without permission," but rather, "not out of necessity," and it refers to a person who leaves his home when he is not compelled to leave. "She'Lo b'Reshus" is unrelated to the prohibition against leaving Eretz Yisrael. The Mishnah's allowance to shave applies to a person who lives anywhere and must travel for compelling reasons. Since he has good reasons for traveling, the circumstances which required that he travel and prevented him from shaving before the festival are considered "beyond his control."
(c) The VILNA GA'ON (OC 531:4) disagrees with the Ra'avad's understanding of the Yerushalmi. Rebbi Yehudah does not say explicitly that one is prohibited to go to Chutz la'Aretz from Eretz Yisrael. Rather, he says that one may not travel via sea. Rebbi Yehudah maintains that one is prohibited to put himself in a situation of danger by traveling at sea. (See BA'AL HA'ME'OR to Shabbos 19a.) Accordingly, whether or not one is permitted to shave upon his return on Chol ha'Mo'ed is unrelated to whether he left Eretz Yisrael to go to Chutz la'Aretz or left one place in Chutz la'Aretz to go to a different place in Chutz la'Aretz. Rebbi Yehudah prohibits traveling by sea unless there is a pressing need to do so. Therefore, regardless of where one lives or travels to, when he travels by sea (for pleasure alone) he may not shave upon his return on Chol ha'Mo'ed because traveling by sea in the first place is unsanctioned.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 531:4) cites the reasoning of the Ra'avad, that only one who travels from Eretz Yisrael to Chutz la'Aretz is considered traveling "without permission" and may not shave upon his return on Chol ha'Mo'ed. The MISHNAH BERURAH (in Sha'ar ha'Tziyun #12) points out that the VILNA GA'ON and many Rishonim and Acharonim disagree with the Ra'avad and prohibit one from shaving even if he went from one place to another in Eretz Yisrael, or from one place to another in Chutz la'Aretz. The Mishnah Berurah concludes, however, that one who wants to be lenient may rely on the view of the Ra'avad when he returns from a trip within Eretz Yisrael or within Chutz la'Aretz.
2) DEATH BY SURPRISE
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that the same circumstances which permit a person to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed permit a person to shave during Aveilus.
One is permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed when circumstances beyond his control prevented him from shaving before the festival arrived. How does this reasoning apply in the case of Aveilus? One who becomes an Avel does not know in advance that he is going to become an Avel, and thus he has no time to prepare. Accordingly, in every case of Aveilus the Avel should be permitted to shave, and not only when the Avel was released from prison or returned from abroad. Why does the Gemara permit only the individuals who are permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed to shave during Aveilus and not any Avel who suddenly and unexpectedly became an Avel? (See SEFAS EMES.)
(a) Perhaps a person is always expected to keep in mind every possible contingency. One who decides to delay his haircut and let his hair grow more knows that he is taking a chance and that he might not be able to cut his hair when he plans. Death is common enough (Kesuvos 8b) that one is expected to take into account the possibility that one of his close relatives might die. If he lets his hair grow now such that he will feel uncomfortable if he becomes an Avel before his haircut, it is as though he knew and expected that such a thing would happen and he may not shave when he is an Avel. In contrast, a person who is released from prison was prevented by others from shaving, and therefore when he is released and he becomes an Avel he may shave during his Aveilus.
(However, the Gemara later (17b) explains that one may cut his hair during Aveilus only if he is released from prison and then "Takfuhu Aveilav" -- a second relative dies before he finishes Aveilus for the first, and as a result his Aveilus period is extended. Why does this allowance to shave apply only when an Avel is released from prison? It is unreasonable to suggest that a person must consider the possibility that he will be in a situation of "Takfuhu Aveilav" and need to observe an extended period of Aveilus. Therefore, his inability to shave during his second period of Aveilus should be considered beyond his control even if he was not in prison.)
(b) Sudden Aveilus is not considered an "Ones," a situation beyond one's control (see RASHASH to 17b, and Insights to Moed Katan 19:2). Perhaps the reason why it is not considered an "Ones" is because a person wants to grow his hair long when he mourns for his departed relative (see Insights to Sukah 25:3:a). Although the laws of Aveilus prohibit him from cutting his hair, since he feels good about growing his hair during Aveilus his inability to cut it is not judged as an "Ones." Only when circumstances beyond his control prevented him from cutting his hair before the Aveilus (for example, he was imprisoned or on a trip) is he permitted to cut his hair during Aveilus, since in such a case at least part of the length of his hair was grown involuntarily. (M. Kornfeld)
3) PERMITTING A METZORA TO SHAVE ON CHOL HA'MO'ED
QUESTION: The Gemara attempts to prove from the Mishnah (13b) that a Metzora must observe his restrictions even during Chol ha'Mo'ed (even though those restrictions prevent him from fulfilling the Mitzvah to rejoice during the festival). The Mishnah says that a Metzora is permitted to shave during Chol ha'Mo'ed when he "becomes Tahor from his Tum'ah" during the festival. This implies that when he is still Tamei during the festival he is not allowed to shave because he must observe the restrictions of a Metzora during Chol ha'Mo'ed.
The Gemara rejects this proof and says that the Mishnah means that both a Metzora who becomes Tahor and a Metzora who is still Tamei are permitted to shave during Chol ha'Mo'ed. The Mishnah mentions specifically that a Metzora who becomes Tahor may shave because it seeks to teach a Chidush: one might have thought that a Metzora who becomes Tahor may not shave, because if he is permitted to shave "perhaps he will delay [bringing] his Korbanos." The Mishnah therefore teaches that he is permitted to shave.
The Gemara's words are difficult to understand. Why would a person think that if a Metzora is permitted to shave, "perhaps he will delay his Korbanos"? In what possible way will the allowance to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed when he becomes Tahor cause him to delay his Korbanos?
(a) RASHI explains that the Gemara does not mean that the allowance to shave will give the Metzora some reason to delay bringing his Korbanos. Shaving on Chol ha'Mo'ed and bringing Korbanos are not related.
Rather, the Gemara means that one might have thought that the Rabanan enacted that a Metzora may not bring his Korbanos during Chol ha'Mo'ed lest he mistakenly assume that just as he is permitted to bring his Korbanos on Chol ha'Mo'ed, he is also permitted to bring them on Yom Tov. He then will delay bringing his Korbanos until Yom Tov (instead of on Chol ha'Mo'ed, the day on which he shaved). In truth, however, one is forbidden to bring a private Korban on Yom Tov (according to the opinion in Beitzah (20a) that private Korbanos may not be brought on Yom Tov).
(b) The TOSFOS RID questions Rashi's explanation, because even if the Metzora makes a mistake and attempts to bring his Korbanos on Yom Tov, the Kohanim will not accept them. Hence, there is no reason to assume that the Rabanan enacted that he not bring his Korbanos on Chol ha'Mo'ed lest he delay them until Yom Tov.
The TOSFOS RID, RASHI KESAV YAD, and others therefore explain the Gemara differently. They assert that the Gemara accepts the conclusion of the Gemara later (17b) that the Rabanan permitted a Metzora to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed even if he became Tahor before the festival (because they did not want him to delay bringing his Korbanos). The Gemara means that one might have thought that no Metzora should be permitted to bring his Korbanos during Chol ha'Mo'ed lest every Metzora be tempted to delay his Korbanos until the nearest festival, during which he will shave and bring his Korbanos. He will be tempted to wait until the next festival because he wants to avoid having to make an extra trip to Yerushalayim, and, as Rashi Kesav Yad writes, he wants to fulfill his obligation to bring Shalmei Simchah on the festival with the Shelamim that he is obligated to bring as part of the Korbanos of a Metzora. (This reason of Rashi Kesav Yad is unclear because the Torah (Vayikra 14) requires a Metzora to bring only an Asham, Chatas, and Olah, but not a Shelamim! RAV NISAN ZAKS discusses this problem at length (in his annotations to the Tosfos Rid, footnote 6). Perhaps Rashi Kesav Yad understands that besides the Korbanos which the Torah explicitly mandates, a Metzora is also required to bring Korbenos Shelamim as derived from the words "Asher Tasig Yado" in Vayikra 14:22; see Rashi to Bamidbar 6:21.) The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN (17b) offers a similar explanation for the Gemara there.
According to Rashi Kesav Yad, how would prohibiting the Metzora from shaving during Chol ha'Mo'ed prevent the Metzora from delaying his Korbanos until the festival? Even with such a prohibition, the Metzora still will wait until the festival to bring his Korbanos; he will shave on the day before he becomes Tahor (before the festival) and then bring his Korbanos during Chol ha'Mo'ed. The answer is that normally the Metzora shaves at the time he brings his Korbanos, and thus if he is required to shave before the festival he likely will bring his Korbanos then as well. (See TOSFOS to 18b, DH ha'Olim. This answer is supported by the fact that the Metzora's haircut is not an ordinary one. He is required to shave every bit of exposed hair on his body. As such, it is usually performed by the Kohen in the Beis ha'Mikdash who specializes in such haircuts. Therefore, the Metzora usually leaves his shaving until he goes to the Beis ha'Mikdash to bring his Korbanos. Alternatively, if he shaves before the festival, the Kohen will require him to shave again since he will see that the Metzora has not shaved recently and will suspect that the Metzora did not shave as required. Thus, it is not worthwhile for the Metzora to shave before he comes to Yerushalayim on the festival to bring his Korbanos.)