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I've got a 18-months old boy whose hair hasn't been cut yet and by now is constantly getting in front of his eyes. My wife insists that cutting a boy's hair before he is 3 is contrary to Jewish tradition. Thus a couple of questions:

  1. Is this indeed so, is there a Jewish law forbidding cutting a toddler's hair, or is this a merely an Ashkenazi custom?

  2. Where does this tradition come from? I can hardly imagine a commandment that would apply to toddlers but not older kids or adults.

  3. How do usually parents who don't cut the boy's hair prevent it from getting in front of his eyes.

Thanks.

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    There is no such law. The Talmud even explicitly permits it. Regarding customs, see judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8212/759 for various suggestions regarding their origin. It's not obvious this has it's roots in Judaism, though there's never "proof" of anything. – Double AA May 7 '17 at 1:14
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    Note that there are people who do this and others who do not. I have a sonwho have waited for three years old and anothe who did not wait. As far as how to handle the hair, most of those who wait treat it as they would a girl and put it back in a poytail type of arrangement. – sabbahillel May 7 '17 at 1:38
  • Not my minhag. Fwiw the hair-cutting ceremony when he reaches 3 is called an upsherin. – DonielF May 7 '17 at 13:50
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Is this indeed so, is there a Jewish law forbidding cutting a toddler's hair, or is this a merely an Ashkenazi custom?

There is no such a law! Halacha allows one to cut baby's hair on Chol HaMoed, for example.

See Shulchan Aruch in 531: 6 - סימן תקלא - דיני גלוח בחל המועד, for example.

ו: קָטָן מֻתָּר לְגַלֵּחַ בַּמּוֹעֵד, אֲפִלּוּ נוֹלַד קֹדֶם הָרֶגֶל; וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא שָׁרֵי (וְכֵן מַשְׁמָע מִמָּרְדְּכַי).‏

It's not an Ashkenazi custom either; it's more of a Chasidishe custom that has recently been universally adopted, by some people. (Oxymoron intended.)

Where does this tradition come from? I can hardly imagine a commandment that would apply to toddlers but not older kids or adults.

See the answers to the question What is the source for the “Upsheirin”? for various answers ranging from Kabbalistic to pagan.

How do usually parents who don't cut the boy's hair prevent it from getting in front of his eyes.

As sabbahillel commented, use regular hairdressing techniques like pins, clips and even trimming when needed, when nobody is looking ;-)

Or you could get him a Kippa and fold the fringe under it, attaching the Kippa with hair clips; that's how Prince Charles does it!

Prince Charles with Kippa

Or this cute kid:

Kid before upsherin

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    Shu't Radbaz (died 1573) was mentioning a chassidishe custom practiced in Yerushalaim in his time? – user6591 May 7 '17 at 13:51
  • Thanks, we'll trim. We couldn't use pins because the kid keeps putting everything he could reach into his mouth. – Michael May 8 '17 at 4:40
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    It should also be mentioned that some chassidim (e.g. Skver) cut when the boy becomes two years old. – Adám May 8 '17 at 12:31

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