My only grandson got his hair cut today.
Perhaps that doesn't sound like big news to you, but for religious Jews, a boy's first haircut is a monumental event. His days of "running wild and free" are over. His hair is trimmed, just as a tree is pruned to help it grow strong and well. He trades in his heart-stopping waves for a more mature look. And he receives a kippah and tzitzit to symbolize his entrance into the world of Jewish learning.
My grandson was given chocolate letters of the alef bet (made by his aunt Rivky) to munch on - symbolizing our hopes that he will absolutely devour Torah learning and become a great talmid chacham (scholar).
My son made a meaningful and lovely speech, appropriately filled with Torah thoughts, gratitude and good feelings.
My son explained more about the tree analogy. "A tree needs the four basic elements in order to survive - earth, water, air, and fire (sun)...Earth in which a tree must be firmly rooted. People need to be rooted in a strong home, filled with Torah values and morals in a supportive growth environment."
"Without water, a tree will whither and die. The Torah is compared to water - mayim chayim. Moshe said, 'May my teaching drop like the rain.' (Deut. 32:2)"
"Air for all the elements a tree needs to breathe and thrive. The Torah says that Hashem breathed life into Man. The Hebrew word for breath - neshama - is the same as that for soul - neshama. Our spiritual life force comes metaphorically by way of air and breathing."
Lastly, "a tree needs the warmth of fire (sunlight) to survive. And humans need the warmth of their community and family to thrive and grow."
My son blessed his son, "May you always stay connected to your roots and learn from your grandparents and great-grandparents before you, may the Torah provide you the nutrients you need to succeed and thrive, and may the fire for doing maasim tovim (good deeds) and avodat Hashem (the service of G-d) always burn within you."
May the words of my son and daughter-in-law be blessings for your child as well.
Pass the Scissors
It was time for the child, who passers-by always noted, "He's beautiful enough to be a girl," become a true boy.
The scissors were passed around, and everyone took a a centimeter from my grandson's beautiful golden hair. The doll boy stood very happily, devouring his lollipop and snack bag. And when he had had enough of relatives and friends snipping away at him, he just sat down and quietly made everyone understand that the party was over.
All his little cousins received candy bags in the shape of tzitzit, and even got a chance to cut the big boy's hair too (with some help from their parents).
When the ceremony was over, a professional groomer finished the job. At the end, he looked like a handsomer version of England's Prince William as a three-year-old.
Mazel tov to our little man, as well as his parents and his entire family, who came from near and far for this moment. And may you have much nachas (pride) from all of your children.