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Publisher's Foreword

Inaugurating Education

What Is Done?

Days On Which An Upsherinish Should Be Postponed

The Prohibition Against Shaving The Edges of One's Head

Areinfirinish - A Child's Entry Into Cheder

Practices Associated With A Child's Education Connected With An Upsherinish

In The Footsteps Of Our Rebbeim

The Letter The Rebbe Would Send To Parents In Connection With The Upsherinish of Their Children

A Milestone In A Child's Education

What Is Done?

by Eliyahu Touger

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  Inaugurating EducationDays On Which An Upsherinish Should Be Postponed  

As mentioned, it is customary to hold - or at least start - the upsherinish in a holy setting, in a synagogue or a house of study. Both the mother and father should be present at the upsherinish. In addition, relatives and friends of the family are invited to participate, for it is customary to hold the celebration with many people, recalling the verse: [37] "The glory of the King is among the multitude of people."[38]

The child should wear tzitzis for this ceremony.[39] A person of spiritual stature is asked to be the first to snip off a lock of the child's hair. On one occasion, [40] the Rebbe advised that the first person to cut the hair should be a kohen, then a levi, and then, a yisrael. Afterwards, each of the people in attendance may be given a turn.[41]

(It is not necessary to finish cutting the child's hair at the upsherinish. A portion can be cut off there and the remainder cut off at home or by a barber. One should not, however, employ a gentile barber for this purpose.[42])

The Rebbe would begin by cutting the hair near the peyos, close to the child's ear. The rationale appears that since the purpose of the custom is to train the child to observe the mitzvah of not shaving his peyos, the cutting should begin there.[43]

The hair should be collected and buried, rather than thrown in the garbage. The Minchas Elazar would weigh the hairs and give an equivalent amount of coins to charity.[44]

Based on a letter from the Rebbe's father,[45] there are many who follow the practice of giving the child whose hair is being cut money to give to tzedakah. In that letter, the Rebbe's father draws a parallel to the custom of giving Chanukah gelt.

At the ceremony, the child whose hair is being cut should recite the verse Torah Tzivah. There are many who have the other children in attendance complete the recitation of the twelve pesukim selected by the Rebbe.

Some mark the occasion with a celebratory feast. At the very least, pastry and L'Chayims[46] should be served. The child should be given an opportunity to recite blessings. Many enhance the celebration with song and music.[47]



  1. (Back to text) Proverbs 14:28. We have translated the verse according to its exegetical context in Berachos 53a, et al.

  2. (Back to text) Shaarei Teshuvah 531:7.

  3. (Back to text) An association is drawn between this mitzvah and this practice because locks of hair are also referred to as tzitzis. As mentioned on page 12, from the time of the upsherinish onward, a child should continue observing the mitzvah of tzitzis in a consistent manner.

  4. (Back to text) In a directive given to Rabbi Yitzchak David Groner.

  5. (Back to text) There is no difficulty with giving women a chance to participate in this practice (see Kores Itim, pp. 69-70; Ziv Minhagim, p. 105). (Needless to say, the men and the women should not mix, but the child may be brought to the place where the women are congregating so that they can also cut off a portion of his hair.) Indeed, certain authorities advise the mother to cut off some hair. Since she has a responsibility in educating the child, she should take part in the ceremony initiating his education.

  6. (Back to text) S'dei Chemed, Asifas Dinim, Chol HaMoed, sec. 5).

  7. (Back to text) Others including the Skleneler Rebbe and the chassid, R. Itchah, the Masmid, would begin cutting at the place where ultimately the child would put on tefillin.

  8. (Back to text) Segulos Yisrael, Maereches Gimmel, sec. 25.

  9. (Back to text) Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, Igros, p. 355.

  10. (Back to text) Traditional Jewish toasts for good fortune.

  11. (Back to text) See Shaarei Yerushalayim, p. 47.

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