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The explanation I have always been given for long, curled peyoth among those that have the minhag, is that it is for beautifying the misswah of peyoth. However, there are seven peyoth, only two of which are the sideburns.

There are the peyoth of the head, which are beautified.

One is liable for each corner. Therefore, a person who shaves both his temples - even if he were to do so simultaneously and had received only a single warning – is [liable for] two measures of lashes. Rambam Hil. A"Z 12:1

But there are also five peyoth on the beard which are not.

The beard has five "corners": the upper and lower cheek on both the right and left sides, and the hair on the chin. One is [liable for] lashes for the removal of each "corner." A person who removes them all at the same time is [liable for] five measures of lashes. Rambam Hil. A"Z 12:7

Given all the peyoth are misswoth, why do only the peyoth of the head deserve beautification? Why not the peyoth of the beard?

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    Citing sources for this explanation that you've "always heard" would improve this post dramatically. It's hard for anyone to figure out why a certain practice applies in specific circumstances without details of it, let alone if it even exists or you are reporting it correctly. – Double AA Feb 10 '16 at 19:55
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    @DoubleAA Well, why not beautify the peyoth of the field as a way of honoring the poor? But the peyoth of the beard and head are more closely related. They are both given in the same verse, have similar halakhic requirements and punishments, and both relate to the growth of hair. I know the beautification of one does not necessarily follow from the other, but why was it decided to beautify one as opposed to the other? – ShamanSTK Feb 10 '16 at 20:07
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    I read somewhere, I forget where, that this started simply for practical reasons. The lo ta'aseh itself is the prohibition against cutting the pe'ot down to their roots (i.e. hashchata). But the mehadrim let them grow (and didn't even shorten them, which is allowed). When there are only sideburns that grow to the sides, it looks weird, so people started "beautifying" them, and it became a sign of a Jewish man in certain countries. A growing beard, however, doesn't need this beautification, as it was a standard for others as well. – Cauthon Feb 10 '16 at 20:20
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    You're asking about "long, curled peyoth". I'm not sure about curled, but there certainly is a practice of keeping one's peos hazakan long. – msh210 Feb 10 '16 at 20:41
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    how are you defining "hidur"? – Dude Feb 23 '16 at 3:00

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