Yonah Wolf shares his views, insights, concerns and tips about the art of Jewish Parenting, and the difficulties of raising Orthodox Jewish kids in today's world.
Friday, March 09, 2007
My little one, now Bigger
My little guy Mikey sure grew up fast. He is now 3! And we just cut his hair. When my wife was pregnant with our first son, I was not totally convinced that I would like the whole Upsherin concept. Truthfully, while my family has very Chasidic roots, my parents never followed suit with any of us. (Although one of my cousins did have an Upsherin with the Bovover Rebbe Z"L and, as my Dad tells it, it is a very humorous story). My wife doesn't have any brothers, so at least in our generation we hadn't really participated in an Upsherin for members of our own family.
Still Faigy insisted, and before I jumped in wholeheartedly, I wanted to study it some more. So I did the research and discovered that the custom has very strong roots in the Kabbalah and is commonly practiced amongst Sefardic and Chasidic Jews. The gist of it is that man is compared to a tree, as it says in the bible -"..Man is like the tree of the field (Deut/Devarim 20:19). In Judaism, trees have very special meaning as well as their own laws and customs. For one, they have their own new year (Tu B'shvat) and when one plants a fruit bearing tree, we cannot derive any benefit for the fruit for the first three years. So too, a little boy is just like that tree. For the first three years of his life we follow his cognitive development (his fruits). When he reaches three, the age of Mitzvah education, his fruits (his mind) are ready for consumption with Torah thought and religious education.
This is such a beautiful custom, and I am glad that I agreed to follow suit. But even more than that their is a much greater psychological effect on the child as well. In his new look, my son now equates himself as a 'Big Boy' and proudly states "I am not a baby!".
As much as I miss my 'Goldilocks', I now have another big boy to bring into the world of Torah and Mitzvot, and I am eternally thankful to G-d for that every day.
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