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Shave and Get a Haircut: Says Who? Getting to the Roots of an Unusual Restriction

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Publication Date: July 2009

Publisher(s): National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (U.S.)

Author(s): David Nelson

Series: CLAL on Culture Archive

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: Jewish Law (Halacha); Tradition; Ritual

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States


In Judaism, there are a number of references and restrictions to the cutting of one's hair; the most notable examples are the prohibition on haircuts during the counting of the Omer, Samson's famous haircut, and the practice of not cutting a boy's hair until the age of three. The author analyzes, in particular, how ritually growing a boy's hair retains his sacredness, and compares that to how men who join the military or are imprisoned have their heads shaved. In conclusion, the author asks for the readers' own interpretations on the importance and meaning of hair in Judaism.