Lag BaOmer is upon us, and boy do you need a haircut.  Even I can tell.  But should you get one at home or at the barber?  Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.

Factor #1: Convenience

My wife cuts my hair most of the time, and I’m okay with it because she’s the only one who has to care what I look like.  I don’t even have to care.  She sees me a lot more than I see me.  Yes, I still go to high school every day, and my students care apparently – more than they care about the stuff I teach that they’re interrupting to ask me about my haircut – but the way I see it, they’re going to make fun of me about something regardless.  I might as well control the narrative.

But this article isn’t about me.  You could be someone whose wife doesn’t care how they look, or they have no wife and will probably not get one by cutting their own hair, or their wife is a lefty.  So let’s look at other factors.


Point: Home

Factor #2: Wait Time

Obviously, the lines at the barber are generally longer, at least depending on the size of your family.

And the barber knows there’s going to be lines.  That’s why there’s a pile of magazines in the waiting area from like 1992. Who’s reading the magazines exactly?  Who shows up to the barber with nothing to do and says, “Nah, I probably won’t have to spend time waiting. Who’s gonna be there?  It’s Erev Pesach!”  And then you’ll get caught up in an article and have to stop in middle because it’s your turn and maybe pick it up again after your haircut before you leave.  You’ll sit back down in the waiting area, and have people come in: “Are you next?” 

“No, I’m finishing this article!”

But at least the barber is always ready to cut hair.  If you’re doing haircuts at home, you need to coordinate schedules with the person giving the haircuts, and then you have to change, and the person giving haircuts has to change, and everyone in the whole house has to change, even the ones who are not involved in the haircuts, because the entire house is about to be full of hair.  And everyone has to get their haircuts at once, whether they need one or not, so there are going to be lines anyway.  For the haircuts, and then again for the shower.  All the kids have to get into their undershirts and line up to sit on that stepstool that you have in the kitchen. 

Yes, at the barber, it’s the same long line of people, but at least they’re not in their undershirts.


Point: Barber?

Factor #3: Choices

When I go to the barber, I sit down in the chair, and the guy asks, “What do you want?  You want it longer, shorter…” And I’m like, “How do you make it longer?” 

Actually, I always say the same thing: “I don’t know.”  I literally do not even make this decision at home. 

And it doesn’t help that the numbers he’s throwing at me do not line up with the numbers on the attachments at home.  At home it’s one-sixteenth, one-eighth… but you sit down at the barber and he’s like, “Whatdaya want, a 2?  A 4?” 

What do these numbers mean? Are lower numbers shorter or longer?  If I say I want a zero, for example, shouldn’t that mean he doesn’t cut my hair? 

And he’s barely using the machine anyway.  He’s using his fingers to measure.  He’s estimating these numbers with his fingers?  So am I telling him how many fingers to put between the scissors and my head?  I’m going to say a number over five once and see if he calls the other barber over to give him a hand. 

But my wife never asks. 


Point: Home

Factor #4: Tools & Techniques

If you get your hair cut at home, your wife uses a kit that comes with a machine, about 16 attachments of which you will only ever use 3, a scissor with tiny fingerholes, a normal-sized comb, a tiny brush, a small tube of oil for the machine which is useless since everyone’s hair has more than enough oil in it anyway, and a carrying case so you can bring it to upsherins.

That’s not all you need for a haircut, if professional barbers are anything to go by.  I’m not expecting the kit to come with a chair, but for example there’s no mirror.  And there is no mirror in my kitchen.  I have no idea how they did until after my shower when there’s like one random hair that won’t stay down. 


Point: Barber

Factor #5: Making conversation 

So you’re sitting there for ten minutes with a stranger running his fingers through your hair, and you feel like you have to make conversation, but what do you say to him? 

- “So what do you do for a living?” 

- “This weather, huh?” 

I’m already uncomfortable, because I never really talk to anyone with my yarmulke off.  Except my wife during my home haircuts.  We mostly talk about who’s next.

Should I talk to the people next to me?  Not likely.  You walk into the barber shop, and there are always two people in the chairs trying to keep their heads perfectly still, with a serious look of concentration on their faces, their heads tilted slightly downward -- it looks like prison.  Also, when you sit down, there’s always some little kid next to you on a booster seat with this smock on that goes down way past his feet, so he looks like a full-sized adult with a tiny head.  And his mother is in the background giving the barber pointers, or complimenting the kid on his behavior as he sits there, glaring at the bottom of the mirror.

Meanwhile, when you get your haircuts at home, the next kid is in his undershirt standing there waiting for you, and you’re like, “Don’t step in the hair!  Don’t step in the hair!”  And your wife is like, “Stop yelling at him; your head is moving.” 

So which is better?  Also, the barber doesn’t comment on your balding/going gray situation every single time.


Point: Not sure

Factor #6: Hair everywhere! 

The smock that comes with the home haircut kit is a literal piece of garbage bag.  It’s thinner than the garbage bags you have at home that you bought voluntarily, and there’s a little ribbon attached that you’re supposed to tie around your neck, except that one end of it is not attached, and even when it was, you would keep more hair out of your clothes if you kept your shirt on and closed the top button.  Maybe also put on a tie way too tight.  So you’re basically holding a garbage bag around your neck, choking yourself, until you just give up and get full of hair and then shake off afterward. 

Like that’s a great idea.  The haircuts are always in the kitchen.  Near the food.  Especially before the major yomim tovim.

And no matter how much you shake, not everyone shakes, and there’s trails of hair all over the house, and everyone has to shower immediately afterward, and the shower to get rid of the hair takes longer than the haircuts so it’s literally a line of hairy, shedding children waiting for the shower, and fighting.  On the carpets. 


Point: Barber?

Factor #7: How did we do? 

I like how the barber always asks you afterward to check the mirror and see if he did a good job. 

I don’t know.  I’m trusting you.  You’re the expert.  I’m going to start pointing out mistakes NOW? 

Also, if it’s so barely off that the barber can’t even tell, I don’t care.  So the back might be a little messed up?  No one judges my back until I’m leaving, and by then they’ve already judged me. 

Who are we trying to impress?  The people behind me in shul? 

Listen, you can hold up a mirror to my back, but I’m still not going to know what I’m seeing, and then I’m going to say, “It’s fine,” just to get you to stop.  You have no idea if you’re holding the mirror at a good angle, and I’m not sure either.  I trust you, the professional, more than I trust me looking in two mirrors at what might be the head of the guy next to me. 

“Why is my head so small?” 

Whereas at home, when I get a haircut, my wife doesn’t ask for my opinion, and then later, after the machine is put away, I find some hairs on the side of my head that we missed, and I have to do those myself. 


Point: Home

So there you have it – it’s basically a tie.  So do what you want.  In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you’re reading this at the barber and he still hasn’t called you up and now you’re at the end of the article and how old is this magazine anyway?  Or you’re finished your haircut and you came back to see how the article ended and if you’d made the right decision, and you just want this article to be over already because you’re trying your hardest not to think about how much your back itches.  Just go home already. 

And if you are home, get up and help your wife.  She’s trying to finish haircuts, and the toddlers are playing dress-up with the hair.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.