To my True-Dimension Tempering Doctor-Barber


Dear Doctor,

 Thank you for that glorious haircut.  My head breathes your light. Again it sees the sun, moon, the curls. My eyes are alive because my head is weightless. You didn’t cut my strength away like Samson’s, you fortified me. Each hair is floating above us to the stars. G-d has made you the one that heals my head. For this, I will always love you.

You asked what is the meaning of the side-curls (peyos) on religious Jews?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In Jewish tradition, hair is like the roots and the branches of a tree, they seek endless sky and endless earth. They reach up, down and outward seeking G-d’s Expanse. Whereas the Egyptians shaved off all hair on the body including eyebrows and plucked-out eyelashes and the Canaanites would sheer the sheep completely to the skin leaving no wool, Judaism, through the Hebrews, instructs the men to retain indefinite facial corners. There are five poignant juttings, Pey-Aleph-Hey, on the visage: two hair locks to the side of the ears are called “peiot” –corners–  (“‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” Leviticus 19:27), whose letters may also derive from the word “mouths”  Peh-Hey-Vav-Taf, imagining that either next to or beside our ears we hear invisible, G-dly whispers. There should be no precise delineations on our face to the air around us. Next, the two jawbones where the two lower mandibles open and shut  hide beneath the beard (Deuteronomy 14:1), and so the fifth point is the chin, which juts from the jaw and rises and falls.

Of course all this talk about hirsute is entirely irrelevant. Hair is not something to be preoccupied with. It is the most superficial of body parts. That’s why Judaism looks at our hair by interlocking it with the Tree of Life, which sat in the very center of the Garden of Eden. Traditionally, Jewish little boys do not cut their hair-locks at all until their third birthday, leaving only the two side-locks (peyot) dangling. This parallels the feast of weaning for little Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah on his second birthday (“The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast.” Genesis 21:8). The three year-old child of today begins his Torah studies on this auspicious moment. A bit of honey is placed on the letters of the Torah in front of him and he touches it and his first taste of holy contact with reading the sacred text is sweetness. So begins Jewish education.

We , all boys and men, wear fringes on each corner of a garment, four fringes folded over to make eight.

The second day of Creation – Monday – G-d created the firmament separating heaven and earth. There is a separation, but humans cannot discern it, only G-d knows the precise point of separation. Likewise, the Jewish day begins at sunset, which no human can discern in exactitude.

There is much more to say Doctor but let this suffice for now.

Your adopted brother, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana, who looks forward to greeting you in my synagogue. Shalom.


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