In regards to the custom of not cutting a boy’s hair before the age of three – what’s the reason for that?

In my family we follow that custom, so I wouldn’t want to be different. But I’d like to trim my son’s hair ever so slightly (it wouldn’t show), because he has just a drop of hair, and by cutting it, it would grow more (and thicker). If I do that, would it be considered going against the minhag?

Answer:

The custom of not cutting a boy’s hair until the age of three is mentioned by the Arizal (Shaar Ha-Kavanos 87a), and is generally seen as being related to the mitzvah of leaving the pe’os ha-rosh, in bringing the child to love the mitzvah (Nechpah Bekesef p. 18).

Some add that the three year delay is related to the mitzvah of orlah, and indicates a certain spiritual readiness (Ayalah Shluchah) — according to one Midrash Avraham was three when he discovered Hashem.

The custom is not mentioned by halachic works, and therefore doesn’t carry full “halachic” weight, so that if there’s a need to trim the boy’s hair, this can be done without concern. The custom will still be fulfilled by his having his first “real” haircut at the age of three.

Best wishes. 

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