Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Question From Levi Yitzchock - Peyos Minhagim

(Picture courtesy of

My Dear Friend,

I have a question concerning Peyos. Since my conversion, I have never cut my peyos or my beard. As you know I converted through Chabad. I usually wear them rolled up behind my ears, but this Yom Kippur I decided to wear them down. I was told in no uncertain terms that the wearing of long Peyos was frowned upon by the Arizal and this is why Lubavitch doesn't wear them long. Mine only come to my jaw. I cannot find anything regarding this other than the Arizal trimmed his peyos with scissors There may be something in the Zohar also that says the peyos should not touch the beard. Rebbe Nachman says, that the peyos are part of the beard. If this is the case why do most of the Chassidic world have long peyos?

I realize some do wear them small, some under their Kippot, and some behind the ear. I do understand that hair in that area is considered peyos even if is short. I've also heard that the Alter Rebbe had long peyos as well as the Freideker Rebbe and they also wore them under there hats or Kippot.

Irregardless, I will not cut them off, trim them ok, but not to cut them. People in the Satmar community told me that the Baal Shem Tov had Peyos as well as the Teimani who have no Chassidic influence and trace their wearing of them back to the time of the Beis Hamikdash.

Zei gezunt,

Levi Yitzchock


At October 31, 2007 at 9:43:00 AM EDT, Blogger Akiva said...

There's a question of what's the minumum payos, and I've read that the Arizal writes it's to the bone of the cheek.

Clearly there are different minhagim and different positions on payos. As you've noted, the Chabad minhag is short, but clearly denoted, payos. Most other chassidim wear longer payos, and Breslov chassidim are noted for following the words of Rebbe Nachman about pulling them out of gehinom by their payos, and wearing long uncut payos.

I suspect your problem is one of mixed metaphors. Each group has its minhagim, and they're considered a package deal. While Chabad includes the uncut beard minhag, they don't include the uncut payos one. Therefore, you're bucking the local social pattern. Picking and choosing minhagim is frowned upon, though as a convert (and true for BT's as well) you have this option (to some extent) that the general community does not.

At October 31, 2007 at 9:57:00 AM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

I myself kept my Peyos at the same length as they were before I joined Chabad. They're tucked behind the ears, and I saw no reason to change them. However, I do find that many of the either newly religious or converted get very "caught up" in the trappings of the Chassidic Jew, whether with Peyos, or other garb, and there really is no need for it. On the contrary, it can detrimental to your spiritual development, being that you "look good" already, just like you've been Chassidic forever, and you begin that you can take it easy already.

At October 31, 2007 at 10:12:00 AM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

Tzigele's words being based on the Rebbe's directives.
As far as I know, acording to the Arizal the problem is also the beard mixing with the peyos -hence the custom of wearing them rolled behind the ears or under one's yarmulke.

At October 31, 2007 at 11:23:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Few comments.

Reb Chaim Vital simply sais, that Arizal did cut his peyoys, so they wouldn't go into "zokeyn mamash", i.e. actual beard. Ariza"l says nothing about cheek bone,

There are two ways to read this.
1. Simply the beginning of the beard (i.e. cheek bone). This understanding is used by Chabad and Chernobyl.

2. The beard under one's chin (here the "mamash" is stressed, i.e. the actual beard is understood as the part of the beard underneath one's chin. This is practiced by many chasidim, including Breslov.

So you can see these are both legitimate ways of reading Ari za"l. So one shouldn't negate the other. So if someone is pushing you about it, you can say that these both traditions have a right to be used, an they shouldn't push you.

Now concerning those who weare very long peyoys (beneath the chin even), or not cut them at all. There is no reason for this al pi Kabolo. On the contrary, Ari za"l says, that peyoys below that length are not good (because of klipoys). In Breslov, many chasidim follow the second view, and let peyoys grow until one's chin. (So do those who have a mesoyro in Breslov). The trend to make peyoys very long (below chin) is a non traditional an innovation by some newcomers to Breslov.

Now regarding Chabad. Many in Chabad today for some reason not only cut peyoys short, but make them unnoticable at all. There is no good reason for it. (Also it is known, that Rayatz ztz"l had somewhat long peyoys, wearing them under his yarmolke). On photos of old Chabad chasidim you can see pretty noticable peyoys.

At October 31, 2007 at 11:33:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also note, that in Russia and Ukraine, there was a gzeyro prohibiting wearing long peyoys (introduced by evil tsar Nikolay I). For this reason virtually all Russian chasidim didn't wear long peyoys for a long period of time. (Not for traditional reasons, but because of the gzeyro).

At October 31, 2007 at 11:35:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This how common peyoys of Russian chasidim looked:

At October 31, 2007 at 11:45:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been told that the Satmar Rov (R' Yoel) said: "Peyes beyond the chin are merely a shvatz (a tail)"

At October 31, 2007 at 11:54:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heared it in the name of the Bobover Rebe though.

At October 31, 2007 at 11:55:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tail = שוואנץ.

At October 31, 2007 at 12:14:00 PM EDT, Blogger Akiva said...

A Yid - I don't understand your comment about Breslov minhag (and new versus old members), as the Breslov rabbonim I've met and/or seen pictures of, such as HaRav Kenig, HaRav Brody, HaRav Arush, all have payot that pass chin length.

I would add that the moderations of minhag seem to be less in the holy cities, Yerushalayim and Tzfat.

At October 31, 2007 at 12:16:00 PM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

despite my ashkenazi appearance, i'm sefaradi, and I wear peot.. (generally behind my ears and a little past my chin)

when people ask I explain that it's the only trend that is peculiarly Jewish. Nobody else grows out just their peot.. so, to identify outwardly with the Jewish people I wear peot.(being that sefaradim don't wear their tzitzith out, and we as a people no longer wear tefillin all day long :( )

(actually my father in law (son of Rishon L'tzion Rav Yitzhak Nissim) and his brothers all grew their peot at least until their bar mitzwah, despite being Iraqi..go figure---as far as I know there is a yerushalmi minhag re: peot.)

At November 1, 2007 at 3:50:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chabad does all sorts of things NOT like the ARI zal -- such as wearing black on Shabbos, adding "Ki vanu varcharta..." in Fri. PM Kiddush (like the RAMA miPano), not using Yud-Beis challos, etc. Do they refrain from wearing peyos because of the ARI zal -- or because that was the minhag of Yidden in their region (White Russia and the Litta)?

At January 28, 2008 at 11:22:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have been told that the Satmar Rov (R' Yoel) said: "Peyes beyond the chin are merely a shvatz (a tail)"

"I've heard it in the name of the Bobover Rebbe though."

It's from the Divrei Yechezkel, which both Satmar and Bobov has connections too. There are different ways of dealing with this issue.

At August 27, 2009 at 7:06:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jeffrey W. Roberts said...

The lashon in the Ari is that the payos should go to "ketz hazakan" - what this means is up for grabs, but the most simple interpretation is that it means to the length of that the beard grows naturally when left uncut. I have heard people argue that this means the cheek bone or the chin.... but then why would the Ari state that the payos should be "to the end" of the beard? The basic peshat of "end of the beard" seems to mean the bottom of the beard -- the other interpretations seem to me at least forced.

At March 24, 2012 at 11:57:00 PM EDT, Blogger yoily said...

the divrey chaim of sanz also said that payos past the chin is a minhag shtoos, the question is whats the chin


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