Posted by: gruvenreuven | August 4, 2008

Upsherin

Today we had a bit of a PANIC!!! The person who was to make the invitations for my son’s Upsherin kind of bailed on us. With the Upsherin quickly approaching, I had to switch my usually right brain into left brain mode and come up with something FAST. So here it is.. I’m cool with it, and tomorrow will take the image to Kinkos for a little mass reproduction. Let me know what you think. (Click on the image to enlarge)

Upsherin (Yiddish: lit. “shear off”)is a Jewish hair cutting ceremony, kabbalistic in origin, held when a Jewish boy is three years old.

In the Torah, human life is sometimes compared to the growth of trees. According to Leviticus 19:23, one is not permitted to eat the fruit that grows on a tree for the first three years. Some Jews apply this principle to cutting a child’s hair. Thus little boys are not given their first haircut until the age of three. To continue the analogy, it is hoped that the child, like a tree that grows tall and eventually produces fruit, will grow in knowledge and good deeds, and someday have a family of his own.

In the Hasidic community, the upsherin marks a male child’s entry into the formal educational system and the commencement of Torah study. A yarmulka and tzitzis will now be worn, and the child will be taught to pray and read the Hebrew alphabet. So that Torah should be “sweet on the tongue,” the Hebrew letters are covered with honey, and the children lick them as they read.

Sometimes the hair that is cut off in the upsherin ceremony is weighed, and charity is given in that amount. If the hair is long enough, it may be donated to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. Other customs include having each of those attending the ceremony snip off a lock of hair, and encouraging the child to put a penny in a tzedakah box for each lock, as it is cut. Sometimes the child sings a Hebrew song based on the biblical verse: “Torah tzivah lanu Moshe” (“Moses prescribed the Torah to us, an eternal heritage for the congregation of Jacob” (Deut 33:4).

The tradition is relatively modern and has only been traced back as far as the 17th century.

Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote in Sha’ar HaKavonot that “Isaac Luria, cut his son’s hair on Lag B’Omer, according to the well known custom.” Many upsherinish in Israel take place on Lag B’Omer at the grave of Shimon bar Yochai, located in Meron. According to tradition, bar Yochai wrote the Zohar, in which it is explained that the bonfires traditionally lit on Lag B’Omer are symbolic of the light of Torah.

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Responses

  1. Such a great invitation, such a cute kid bli ayin horah!

    Don’t leave so long in between posts, my working day is lost 🙂

  2. Ahh! It’s so cute 🙂 Very nice job in a pinch.

  3. a wonderful invitation, and a beautiful child [b’li ayin horah].

    and i agree with yehoshua – i count on you to teach me when i should be learning.

  4. i love the tzedakah angle!

    arnie draiman
    http://www.mitzvahheroesfund.org
    http://www.draimanconsulting.com

  5. You know, he can never join the Hanson brothers on tour if he cuts his hair. 🙂 BTW, love that you have CrownHeight.info listed on your links but not Shmais. You know how I feel about them… 😉

  6. Hi – I’m planning my son’s upsherin b”h this Spring. May I ask, where do you find all the good educational info about the custom on Upsherin? What was your source? Thanks and all the best,


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