Day 19 of the Omer

מִנְהַג יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא לְגַלֵּחַ וְשֶׁלֹּא לְסַפֵּר שַׂעֲרוֹת רֹאשׁ תִּינוֹק עַד מְלֹאת לוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים.

גְזִיזַת הַשְּׂעָרוֹת — אָפּשׁעֶרעֶנעֶש (שֶׁל תִּינוֹק) — הוּא דָבָר גָּדוֹל בְּמִנְהֲגֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְעִקָּרוֹ הוּא בְּהַחִנּוּךְ דְּהַשְׁאָרַת פֵּאוֹת הָרֹאשׁ. וּמִיּוֹם הַגְּזִיזָה וַהֲנָחַת פֵּאוֹת הָרֹאשׁ נָהֲגוּ לְהַדֵּר לְהַרְגִּיל אֶת הַתִּינוֹק בְּעִנְיַן נְשִׂיאַת טַלִּית קָטָן וּבִרְכוֹת הַשַּׁחַר וּבִרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן וּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁעַל הַמִּטָּה.

It is a Jewish custom not to trim or cut a boy’s hair until he is fully three years old.

Cutting the boy’s hair at that time — an opsherenesh1 — is an important Jewish custom, whose main aim2 is to educate the child to leave his peyos [uncut].3 From the time of his [first] haircut, when the peyos are left uncut, the custom is to make a point of training the child to wear a tallis katan, and to recite the Morning Blessings, the Grace after Meals, and the Prayerbefore Retiring at Night.4

Living in This World

As indicated in the above passage and in letters from the Rebbe, the day of the opsherenesh is a landmark in a child’s Jewish education, and not only with regard to the mitzvah of leaving the peyos uncut.Yet though it is a landmark, a child’s education in fact begins much earlier.

A couple once asked the Rebbe: “What should we do to further our son’s education?”

“How old is your son?” the Rebbe asked.


“So why are you coming to me only now?” replied the Rebbe.


A child’s education begins from the second he or she enters the world.5 From that moment on, the child is learning. His future is being shaped. His eyes photograph everything he sees; his ears record everything he hears. At all times, whether we are aware of it or not, a training process is taking place, one that will ultimately influence the way the child will react to situations as an adult.

A responsible parent will seek to sensitively direct this process, instead of letting it flow without being monitored. He will act thoughtfully, conscious that the earlier he intervenes, the more effective and comprehensive the influence he will exert. To cite a parallel, a minor blemish in a seed can develop into a major defect in the tree. And conversely, the care and attention lavished over a sapling bear good fruit when it develops into a flourishing tree.6