Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"There Are Two Ways To Read This"

(Picture courtesy of

A Yid commenting on A Question From Levi Yitzchock - Peyos Minhagim:

Reb Chaim Vital simply says, that Arizal did cut his peyos, so they wouldn't go into "zokeyn mamash", i.e. actual beard. The Arizal 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 Arizal. 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, and they shouldn't push you.

Now concerning those who wear very long peyos beneath the chin even, or not cut them at all. There is no reason for this al pi Kabolo. On the contrary, Arizal says, that peyos below that length are not good because of klipos. In Breslov, many chasidim follow the second view, and let peyos grow until one's chin. So do those who have a mesoyro in Breslov. The trend to make peyos 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 peyos short, but make them unnoticeable at all. There is no good reason for it. Also it is known, that Rayatz ztz"l had somewhat long peyos, wearing them under his yarmulke. On photos of old Chabad chasidim you can see pretty noticeable peyos.

Also note, that in Russia and Ukraine, there was a gzeyro prohibiting wearing long peyos introduced by the evil Tsar Nikolay I. For this reason virtually all Russian chasidim didn't wear long peyos for a long period of time.


At October 31, 2007 at 12:32:00 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 12:39:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reb Luzer Kenig (and his family) have peyoys not longer than until chin.

Yerushalmi commonly have very long peyoys. This influenced many there, but it is not related to Breslov. In Tzfas many follow the minhog as I said before (not longer than until chin). But is not enforced or anything like that. Like many other things too.

Look here:

At October 31, 2007 at 12:40:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I didn't exactly understood what you meant by:
the moderations of minhag seem to be less in the holy cities, Yerushalayim and Tzfat.

At October 31, 2007 at 12:50:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See also:

At October 31, 2007 at 1:40:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Talmid said...

There seems to be different minhagim, all with holy reasons. I have seen great tzadikim with very long payos, with short ones and some without "noticeable" payos.

Many hold that the payos shouldn’t go past the chin since extra hair is koach hatumah (or some similar term is used). Many will not cut it with scissors but will burn them shorter. Nesiv Mitzvosecha (18, 39)and Meir Nesiv(the commentary on bottom) in the Berdichiver Siddur gives reasons for letting the payos grow very long and never cutting them. Among those quoted are Reb Sholom of Belz.

The Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avoda (5, 2) quoting the Zohar Chodosh and Tikunei Zohar, says that one shouldn’t keep the payos around the ears during Shmona Esrei. Before Shmona Esrei, one will see many taking their payos from around the ears and letting them hang down. Based on this some don’t ever put it behind their ears and keep it under their yarmulke or let it hang down.

At October 31, 2007 at 1:55:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Yid

Where did you ever hear that peyos below the chin are "not related to Breslov?"


At October 31, 2007 at 2:31:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At October 31, 2007 at 2:33:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or better, where is this mesoyro brought down, from whom etc.? I never saw it anywhere.

At October 31, 2007 at 2:36:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I saw - some Skolye eyneklach not cutting their peyoys until bar mitzva (at all). But afterwards they do cut them. May be it has some regional roots - I have no idea. But about the Rebe - the source for it has to be known.

At November 1, 2007 at 12:41:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first heard it from Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz of Project YES, who heard it from Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender, z"l. However, I later heard the same thing from many other Breslover Chassidim.

Rav Kenig of Tzefas is slated to come to NY next week. I suggest that you ask him about this, as well as the other questions we discussed recently.

BTW Reb Chaim Man is a talmid of Reb Gedaliah, and he lets his peyos grow below his chin. So I don't think there is any "shittah" keneged this in the Tzefas mesorah, even though it looks like many people trim their peyos at the chin, like you.

At November 1, 2007 at 7:53:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

When I contacted Rabbi Yakov Horowitz about this issue, he replied that he was very very close to Reb Levi Yitzchock zt"l and recalls hearing something from him about this.

Rabbi Horowitz, however, did not recall the details of what was told to him.

At November 1, 2007 at 9:49:00 AM EDT, Blogger Akiva said...

It would be interesting to know the minhag of the temanim here, as their minhagim don't seem to have the regional adjustments (like the note about the Czar prohibiting payos longer than a certain length, and I heard this about Chabad and the length of the kapotah as well, that they were prohibited from wearing a coat longer than the knees), and since they are known for wearing serious payos.

At November 1, 2007 at 1:10:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Rabbi Yakov Horowitz once told me what he heard from Reb Levi Yitzchok zal concerning Rebbe Nachman's appearance. This discussion took place in the winter of 1986. So he's "entitled" to having forgotten the details!

(I probably have worse memory problems -- but the short term usually wears out before the long term...)

At November 1, 2007 at 4:01:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Yid:

Another factor you may not have considered: as a man gets older, his peyos usually get shorter. This is especially true is one suffers from health problems, chas v'shalom. Rav Kenig's peyos used to be longer...

At November 1, 2007 at 5:12:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chabakuk's Father: In such case peyos rather get thinner first. Reb Luzer's peyos look pretty full in volume. They should be cut like that deliberately.

Also note, that some wear shortish peyos today like Breslovers in Russia (like Reb Avrohom had for example).

At November 1, 2007 at 6:15:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was actually in the summmer of 1979 that I had the zechus to spend a great deal of time with Reb Levi Yitzchak z'tl.

I davened in his vasikin minyan for 5 months and rode the #1 bus with him to the kosel after davening on many of those days.

He used to have a one-hour gathering in his home one day a week attended by 10-20 people, where he would discuss 'sichos.'

The momories of those days warm my neshama as I type these words.

Yakov Horowitz

PS I have been meaning to write about some of my memories of this great tzadik. One of these days ......


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