Re: Upsherin (cutting hair of 3 yr old)

Perets Mett (p.mett@open.ac.uk)
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 13:36:32 +0100

Micha Berger writes [Torah-Forum V3 #49]:
<<The source of the custom is the Zohar, which bases it on the combination
of [...] Based upon the connection implied by the first verse, there exist
mystical reasons not to cut a child's hair for three years. I don't know
why it would apply to boys and not girls, but that is the practice.>>

In fact he answers his own question a few lines later:

<<Tied to the notion of upsherin (from the same root as the English "to
shear") is the idea that this is the beginning of the child's education. He
is taken to learn aleph-beis on that day. This again implies a
boys-learn-Torah association, suggesting a reason why girls don't have an
upsherin, but the verses don't imply anything about this second
custom.Also, with the first haircut comes the first opportunity to keep the
mitzvah of not cutting peiyos(side-burns).>>

Since the mitzva of preserving the peiyos applies to males only, it follows
that the custom of removing the rest of the hair is observed for boys only.
In fact this mitzva is given in the same parsha as the Orla (fruit of the
first three years) on which the quoted Zohar is based.

By the way, upsherin (opsherin if you are a litvak) is just the Yiddish for
having a haircut. In some circles the custom is not called upsherin but
"makhn peiyos" - 'creating sidecurls.'

Perets Mett