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Dear Rabbi Simon,

What is the meaning of peyos? I know that traditionally chassidic and yeminite Jewish men grow their sidelocks, but it seems to have become 'de rigueur' in the wider charedi world, Ashkenazi and Sephardi alike; not everyone of course, like yourself and your sons. However, I have seen young boys with peyos but their fathers without, which I find even more confusing. 

Thank you for clarifying, Philippe

Dear Philippe

The Torah says (Lev. 19:27) "do not round (that is, shave) the corners (pe’ot) of your scalp." The "corners" are understood to be the area of the face in front of one's ears, ie the sideburns. Specifically, the sideburns must extend to the point where the jawbone moves when you open your mouth. Put your finger in front of your earlobe and open your mouth wide and you will see (or feel) what I mean. This prohibition is applicable to men and not women, as it is connected to the prohibition of shaving the beard (with a razor blade). Since men have beards and women do not, the law of peyot is also applicable to men but does not restrict women (in principle).

So much for the prohibition. In some circles, especially those influenced by kabbalistic teachings, it has become commonplace to accentuate that which the Torah forbids removing completely. (For reasons which are not clear to me, Lubavitch hassidim do not follow this practice.) This has the effect of creating a "Jewish" look–though some choose to (partially) hide their peyot under a kippah or hat, or trim them and comb them behind the ears.

Children often have peyot because of the related minhag of not cutting a boy's hair until he is three, and then leaving his peyot at that time (and subsequently). 

My rebbeim did not have peyot, nor was it the norm in the Lithuanian yeshivot. However peyot are becoming increasingly popular, and widespread, as ethnic dressing becomes acceptable and even fashionable, particularly in the Jewish world. IMO there are legitimate grounds on which to both support and critique this trend. We are fortunate to live in a time and in a place where one can choose the path that works best for him.

Kind regards,

rashi simon

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Questions and Answers

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Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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