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Author:  Renee
E-mail:  not available
Date:  1/23/2005 2:37:00 PM
Subject:  hair style
Message:  Please refer me to the halacha where it is forbidden for a young man (10 yr old boy) or any man to comb his hair back neatly (or even up not neatly) with a bit of gel to hold it. (I'd better let my husband know if this is indeed forbidden, because he also sometimes uses some gel to hold his hair back neatly, especially when he hasn't had time to get a hair cut and needs one).

I have not learned that this is forbidden by halacha. If it is, then the father, rebbe etc would have a reason as part of the young man's chinuch to instruct him not to do it.

If this is not forbidden k'halacha, then is it appropriate to forbid it, or make an issue of it?
Is it appropriate to send a child to "professional" help for "acting out" when he is not doing anything wrong? Perhaps this Rebbe should seek help to discover why it is that neatly or not neatly combed, gelled hair bothers him so much. Embarrassing another Jew doesn't seem to be a problem, but the way that a young man combs his hair is!

Thank you for educating MY household. It is really hard to raise observant children in any day and age and as parents we all pray that our children will grow up and simply do what they must.

Perhaps the correct venue for this problem might be a community Rav. Psychologists, Psychiatrists and medical professionals really should only be consulted in cases where there is a true medical problem that cannot be addressed by parents, teachers and Rabbis. It is unusual for children who are brought to these professionals to not be permanently labelled and prescribed medications which will have a lifelong effect on them and for what? Combing your hair certain way?

Don't worry, most boys grow up and lose their hair, this is rarely a lifelong character flaw.
Reply:  In truth you are right, but it all depends where this story accurs. In a "Yeshivish" environment the boy is acting out. Helping him and his parents understand why, might help them in the long run. CYA was dealing with the unfortunate reality where a silly thing like this can cause serious problems, only because these Yeshivot are not prepared to live with any deviation at all.

In a well-rounded child where there are no issues, you would be able to have the child leave his hair less obvious in class and then do what he wants right after class. He needs to be explained that he is right. That he can enjoy his hair and the Rebbi should look at important things. On the other hand, he needs to understand that these people will try to destroy him if he stands out too much. So in the interim, he should play down his stuff that can get him into trouble.

This is not to say that the Rebbi is right. This Rebbi and all those like him have a very warm place waiting for them.

In regards to hair in Jewish Law, there is a source that the hair on a man's head should be cut short, or is good to be short. The Kohen Gadol (High Priest) was required to cut his hair every week down to almost bald. The King did it daily. Every regular Kohen was required to cut their hair this short at least one time a month. But it doesn't say that anyone else or today without our Temple we must take short haircuts. If it did, then those Payos wearing fellows would have real problems. Hair on the head includes Payos. (If it didn't then they wouldn't be Payos.) Now everyone acts out in a different way. Personally I think that this kid's way is more normal, but who am I to talk.

The hairstyle that is forbidden is when it is to be like the idol worshippers AKA Chukot HaAkum. In the Rambam's time wearing Payos was Chukot HaAkum. The Egyptians boys shaved their heads and just left one or both corners and they braided it. This was then sacrificed to the Gods at adulthood. That must be where the Yemenites got it and donated it to the Chassidim. Nowadays it might not be Chukot HaAkum anymore, but it certainly is not the ideal, this is not the way Moshe Rabbeinu & Aaron HaKohen looked. On the other hand, let's work on the more important things first.

Are you allowed to wear extra hair on your head? Probably not if it is done for a religious reason that is not real. I'm sure that the boy in question's hair was OK to do, since it wasn't adding to or creating a new Mitzvah. I think the Rebbi should have a talk with those Payos wearers in his class.

This young man only needs someone to be honest with him. To tell him that he is right. To explain a bit of the realities of our culture and justify to him a certain amount of conforming in order to avoid being completely isolated. Never give in on your religion, but some things can be compromised a bit, like this boy's hairstyle. Now if the school has an intelligent principal or something (which I doubt), then the parents should certainly speak to them for their boy's sake and for all other kids that will pass through the same routine.

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