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Unread 11-27-2003, 11:14 AM   #1
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Does anyone know the sources or reasons for not cutting a boy's hair untill they're 3 y.o.? I'm looking especially for things brought in Halocho.

I know it says in Hayom Yom that it's to educate the child about leaving Payos. Are there any other reasons or sources in HALOCHO?
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Unread 11-27-2003, 11:52 AM   #2
Yankel Nosson
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It is a minhag, not halacha.

R' Yossi Jacobson comments: "5) The first explicit mention of this tradition is in Shaar Hakavonos Einyan HaPesach section 12. There, Rabbi chaim Vital relates how his master, Rabbi Isaac Luryah, one of the greatest mystics in the history of Judaism, performed this ceremony with his own son, in the city of Meron, in Israel, at the resting place of Rabbi Shimon Bem Yochei. This goes back more then 400 years. There is a slight hint for this tradition in Midrash Tanchumah Kedoshim section 14 , as well as in Yerushlami Peiah 1:4. Cf. Chedush Haritva beginning of Tractate Shvous. - For a full discussion of the origins and details of this tradition, see Yalkut Hatespores (NY, 1997), by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Serebryanski, and (in English) "Upshernish" (Published by Sichos In English, NY, 1999), by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger."

That is a footnote from the first part (not posted) of the article below:
What is hair?

In our modern terminology, hair is defined as "a collective term for slender, threadlike outgrowths of the epidermis of mammals, forming a characteristic body covering (11)." However, Jewish mysticism believes that hair contains profound energy. The Zohar, one of the ancient Kabbalistic texts, sees every strand of hair as "harboring entire universes (12)." One of the most profound sections in the Zohar, known as the Idra Rabah, a commentary on this week's Torah portion (Naso), is dedicated almost exclusively to discuss hair and its source in the Divine reality. According to the Zohar, "from the hair of a person you can know who he is (13)".

The Kabbalah (14) discusses the paradox of hair, where on one hand it is rooted in a tubular pit of the epidermis, known as the hair follicle, and is nourished by the blood vessels in a papilla that extends into the follicle and into the root of the hair. This makes it part of the bodily structure. Yet on the other hand, hair contains neither blood vessels nor nerves, therefore not generating any pain upon their removal from the rest of body.

The Kabbalah of hair

So how does Jewish mysticism view the significance of hair?

Hairs act as "straws" transmitting profound and inaccessible energy. Each strand of hair, shaped like a straw (the form of the Hebrew letter Vuv, somewhat similar to the English I), communicates a level of soul-energy that due to its intensity cannot be communicated directly, only through the "straw" of hair, through the contracted, and curtailed medium of hair, which dilutes the intense energy.

Now, the Kabbalah (12) distinguishes between "fine hair" and "coarse hair" - the fine hair decorating the cranium, present immediately during birth, and the coarse hair of the beard, appearing only at a male's entry into adulthood. The hair that links the "fine" and the "coarse" are the earlocks, the payos, the hair extending from the skull, down the jawbone, after which it merges with the beard.

The hair growing on top of the cranium, the "fine hair," represents the deeply concealed energy stemming from the interior of the skull, the Kabbalistic identified location for the super-conscious formations of the human psyche. The deepest and most primal forces of our psyche, the supra-rational desires and cravings of the soul formulated even prior to the birth of cognition, are associated in Jewish Mysticism with the skull, defined as "the crown over the brain," or simply as "kesser", which means the crown. Kesser is seen as the most lofty and elevated part of the soul, its link to G-d who also transcends reason and logic.

The hair of the male beard, on the other hand, the "coarse hair," represents the energy stemming from the sub conscious cognitive impressions of the human psyche, located within the higher and lower brain. This dimension of the human soul is known in Kabbalah as "Mochah Stemaah" (the hidden cognition), and stands one rung below the level of Kesser.

[This is the mystical reason for the feminine body not developing a beard. As mentioned above, the mystical function of hair is to access, in a contracted and curtailed fashion, energy that is inaccessible due to its profundity. But women are naturally more in tuned with their sub conscious cognition, and therefore do not require the "straws" of hair to access that level of self].

Linking two universes

Now the question is, is there any way to link the super-conscious forces of the soul, the kesser dimension, with the cognitive structure of the psyche? Can we ever mentally experience who we really are in out deepest space? Even after the kesser energy was filtered into hair strands, is there hope for us to internalize this infinite light within the finite vessels of cognition?

Men of spirit from the days of yore have struggled with this dilemma. Judaism's answer to this question is - the earlocks, the two rows of hair lingering down the jaw bone, that link the hair of the cranium to the hair of the beard. In Kabbalah, these two rows of hair symbolize the contracted transmission of the super-conscious kesser energy, to the sub conscious mental (mochah stemaah) energy, so that the infinite and unconstrained atomic power of the soul's crown can ultimately be contained and internalized within the mental framework of the human condition.

Without the two side locks curtailing, contracting and metamorphosing the new-clear energy of kesser, none of it would be expressed or experienced within the person's conscious life. Only by having the kesser energy filtered through the hair on the skull, and then re-filtered a second time via the earlocks, can the deepest energy of the soul become articulated in the lower chambers of consciousness (17).

The man who gazes at his pristine self

All of the above, is valid, however, in the case of an ordinary human being, in whom the hair of the cranium can transmit the intensity of the kesser feature of the soul only via the earlocks. The hair atop of the skull on its own (without the further filtering through the earlocks) cannot convey that kesser energy, due to its tremendous power and intensity. Therefore, the Torah instructs us to leave our earlocks and beards intact, for these are the containers through which we access the holiness of our souls. There is no mitzvah, however, in letting the hair above the skull grow long.

However, the Nazirite is the human being who, through a profound process of meditation and transcendence, attempts to go back to the primal formations of his soul. Such a person, says the Torah, ought to let his hair grow and grow, since each strand transmits and brings to the fore tremendous holiness and profundity, the supra rational link of the soul to G-d.

The Nazirite needs not his sidelocks to filter the energy and bring it down the lower brain-level; the Nazirite is able to experience something of his true self without even the most refined masks.

The secret of a child

This may be the deeper reason for the Jewish custom of letting a child's hair grow freely till the age of three. During the first years of a child's life, what is most exposed in his life, is his kesser dimension - his primal, basic formations. During the first years, a child has not yet matured enough to allow his or her mind to filter through every experience and stimuli. At that time, a child is like a dry sponge, absorbing everything in a very deep place.

Though we often perceive children as lacking in the ability to internalize as much as we can, in truth, their level of internalization is far deeper - straight to the primal part of the soul, without traveling through the multi layers of mental cognitive structure. If you wish to know your pristine experiences, spend some real time with your child. There you will encounter your own kesser, your own inner self, expressed in the long strands of hair decorating the crown of his soul, the skull.

After three years of age, the process of mental frame working and processing begins to increas significantly. This is the time when a child learns more and more to process the world around him via his conscious mind and heart, not via his super conscious core. It is at this point that we must begin to help the child build a bridge between his innate yearnings and his outer persona, between his soul and his mind.

That is why we give him a haircut, and we create a bridge - the earlocks that carry down the kesser soul energy into his lower brain, which as he grows older will develop a beard. This is the moment we generate the link and union between the majesty of his soul and the depth of his brain.

Bursting through the payos

This is the deeper meaning behind the Torah's prediction that the Moshiach (Messiah) will "burst through the sidelocks of the Moavite nation (18)." Moav represents wisdom and intelligence (19). Nowadays, we must preserve the sidelocks in order to communicate the supra rational energy into the framework of rationality. But when Moshiach comes, the doors of our perception will be cleansed, granting us the ability to gaze at our core without flinching an eye. The core energy of the soul will come to the fore in its full vigor, not requiring the contraction and concealment represented by the sidelocks.

In that sense, our young children carry in their hair the light of Moshiach (20).



11) Encarta Encyclopedia.
12) Zohar Naso Idra Rabah 129a.
13) Ibid. 129a.
14) Or Hatorah Emor pp. 588-593.
15) The contraction that takes place in Hair is manifested in the fact that our hairy parts, particularly of the head and pubis, are subject to troublesome infestations by minute insects and mites, such as chiggers and lice.
16) Shaar Hamitzvos Parshas Naso.
17) This may also be the reason why the great kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luryah (d. in 1572), did not allow his earlocks to grow below his ears and have them hang over the sides of his beard, as is the custom of Yemenite, Moroccan and most Chassidic Jews. Rather he would trim his payos (earlocks) with scissors to ensure that they merged with the beard. This "style" was embraced by the Chabad school and many other Ashkenazic and Sefardic communities. (See Shaar Hamitzvos and Taamei Hamitzvos Parshas Kedoshim. Beis Lechem Yehudah gloss to Yoreh Deah 181:1. Igros Kodesh by the Lubavitcher Rebbe vol. 20 p. 10.

In the former style, the emphasis is on overwhelming the beard (representing the deep cognitive impressions) with the "earlocks," representing the flow of the soul's pristine desire and emotion. This indeed is the spiritual path of Yemenite and many Chassidic Jews. In Chabad, however, the goal has always been to link between the atomic energy of the soul and the mental framework of the mind, represented by the merging of the earlocks and the beard (see Or Hatorah and Hemshech 5672 references in footnote #20).
18) Numbers 24:17.
19) In Kabbalah, "Av," father, represents Chachmah, wisdom (see Tanya chapter 3).
20) This essay is based on the writings of Kabbalah and Chassidism. See Zohar Idra Rabah, Naso; Likkutei Torah, Taamei Hamitzvos and Shaar Hamitzvos (by Rabbi Chaim Vital) Parshas Kedoshim and Naso; Or Hatorah Emor pp. 588-93; Derech Metzvosecah p. 113; pp. 104-6; Hemshech 5672 vol. 2 pp. 956-964. Sicah of 10 Kislev, 5713; discourse by the Rebbe of Kapust on Upshernish (published in Yalkut Hatespores pp. 83-4). My thanks to Chaim Shilt for his assistance in references.
Chassidim must study Chassidus--HaYom Yom 21Kislev
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