Some three-year-olds have their first haircut amidst the
fanfare of Lag B'Omer. Others don't. Either way, any time,
it is a momentous event in a child's -- and mother's --
As I watched the little boys being hoisted on top of their
father's shoulders, the fathers dancing with them in
unabashed joy, the boys dressed up in beautiful outfits,
some even kapotas, and wearing their father's
shtreimels, a lump formed in my throat and I started
to cry. I was standing on the women's side, right outside
the tomb of the holy Tzaddik, R' Shimon bar Yochai. I was
watching the scene, accompanied by joyous music, and lots of
praying women and dancing men.
Are these the same little monsters who dump out the garbage
pail ten times a day, smear peanut butter all over the
walls, and use your best lipstick as finger paint? What's
happened to them? They are angelic, their long hair gleaming
and framing their faces, totally quiet and in awe of
everything going on around them.
Their parents have braved long bus trips and huge crowds,
and have spared no expense to make this holy trip to the
Kever of R' Shimon. The entire family has dressed in Shabbos
clothes and come along to honor this little three-year-old
boy, as his long locks are shorn and the heilige
payos emerge. What are we teaching these little folk?
What are we leaving them with?
I will never forget when we cut Chezky's hair. His was long
and curly. He looked like an angel. We brought him to Meron,
although not on Lag B'Omer, and he ate an awful lot of
lollipops. It looked like he didn't know what was going on
until we brought him to cheder the next day.
My husband wrapped him up in his tallis and carried
him the short walk to the cheder. We lived in a very
small community, and all around us, people were smiling and
wishing us Mazel Tov. The children were calling out,
"Chalaka! Chalaka!" Everyone knew that something
special and holy was happening.
When we brought him in, the Rebbe took the Chezky-bundle
from my husband's arms, still wrapped up, and held him
gently and lovingly, as only a Rebbe of three-year-olds
knows how. He brought him over to a chair and stood him up
as the talmidim, my husband, my father-in-law and I
looked on. The Rebbe slowly unwrapped him from his cocoon
and we all gasped, even the Rebbe (does he never get used to
Out came a new boy, out of the pupa stage, like he'd been
born all over again! Long curly payos dangling, he
confidently stepped forward, looked Rebbe Berger in the eye,
and gave him a dazzling smile. Gone was the sweet and cuddly
baby boy who was my own. Suddenly, before me, stood a little
`man of the world,' ready to take on all challenges.
Lag B'Omer again...
I could not stop my tears now as I watched those sweet boys
being honored with such love and tenderness. "You are
important!" we are teaching them. "You are precious! You are
Surely they feel it. Surely they know it, even as they
continue to dump out garbage pails with abandon. We had
turned out in force to honor them, and surely, they, in
their own time, will live up to our joyous expectations.