Why do chassidim have curly long payos (sidelocks)? First, in contrary to the common misconception, having payos is not just a chassidish thing, it's a Jewish thing.
The Torah states "Do not cut the hair on the corners (payos) of your head"
This is one of the rare "do not"s in the Torah that only applies to men.
The Talmud and commentaries explain that hair may not be completely removed from the sideburn area, at least from the cheekbone and up around the ear.
Payos come in all different shapes, sizes and lengths.Â Although one is permitted to trim theÂ peyos, some, especially in certain chassidishÂ circles, have the minhagÂ (custom) of not cutting theirÂ peyos. One of the sources for this minhag is a directive that the chassidic master Rabbi Meir of Premishlan gave to Rabbi Sholom MordechaiÂ ha-Kohen Schwadron (Maharsham) when he was a young boy: that he should never cut hisÂ peyos, and would thereby merit long life.
In addition Hashem has stated we shouldn't cut the hair on the corners of our heads. Chassidim always do more then the actual commandment. Hashem said he wants us to do and we will do more then he asked and won't cut them at all.
However, it is not clear that this instruction from Rabbi Meir Premishlan was ever meant to be anything more than a personal directive. Additionally, it is known that for Kabbalistic reasons,Â Rabbi Yitzchak LuriaÂ (Arizal) would make sure to trim hisÂ peyosÂ with scissors so that the hairs of theÂ peyosÂ not mix with those of the beard, since they correspond to different mystical attributes.Â In light of this, many, includingÂ Chabad, have the custom specifically to trim theÂ peyos.
There are multiple other minhagim regardingÂ peyos: tucking them behind the ears, wrapping them around the ears (like lots of Belz chassidim do) or twirling them into long ringlets. Some of these minhagim are based on mystical teachings, while others are based more on community norms. But what is important to bear in mind is that all these different customs go beyond the basic requirement ofÂ peyos.
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