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If long hair is discouraged, why does a nazir grow his hair?


In the book of Numbers, G-d outlines the necessary steps one must take in order to consecrate oneself to the Lord. One of these steps is to allow the hair to grow long. If long hair is a symbol of dedication to G-d and fulfilling his will, why then is it discouraged And seen as displaying a non-affinity for Jewish culture? If long hair is something that illustrates consecration to G-d, and thus submitting to his will, wouldn’t Jewish culture value submission to G-d?


You are asking a very good question, and it took me some time to get back to you, because I was looking into your question.

The answer to your question is that it is true, Jewish culture discourages men from growing long hair (discouraged, but not forbidden). The reason is because growing long hair is part of beautifying oneself, and stressing our physical beauty. Judaism however stresses that we concentrate on beautifying and perfecting our neshoma, our soul and personality, and not our physical body. (Obviously we have to dress in a fine presentable way, however it is not our physical outward appearance that we stress rather our internal perfection, and a life of spiritual growth and meaning.)  The Nazir on the other hand, who is consecrating himself to G-d, is growing his hair, in order to sacrifice it afterwards to G-d, and in a way he is making a statement, that hi physical beauty is not for himself rather for G-d. The Gemorah in Nedarim 9b, relates a story, that Shimon Hatzaddik, (who was the high priest for 40 years), once said that he never would eat from the sacrifice of a nazir except for one. There was once a shepherd that was a nazir, and he brought his hair for a sacrifice. His hair was long and beautiful, and Shimon Hatzaddik asked him, “Why do you want to cut your long beautiful hair?” He answered, “I am a shepherd for my father in my town and one day as I was filling up water from the well, I noticed my beautiful complexion, and my evil inclination wanted me to get haughty about it. Immediately I said, to myself, wicked person, why are you being haughty in a world that doesn’t belong to you, when you are eventually going to decompose in the grave? I promise that I will shave it off for the honor of G-d”. When Shimon Hatzaddik heard this he kissed him on his head and stated, “There should be more nazarim among the Jews, This is the meaning of the verse, “A person that will make a vow to be a nazir for G-d.” From this story we se that this is the meaning why a nazir grows his hair, not to be haughty, but to give his beauty to G-d… the one who created it.

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