Levi Mochkin celebrated his third birthday and his first haircut last month. (photo by Shula Klinger)
On March 26, Mendy and Miki Mochkin of Chabad North Shore celebrated their son Levi’s upshernish (or “cutting”). This occasion marked both Levi’s third birthday and his first haircut.
In the Orthodox tradition, a boy’s hair is not cut until his third birthday. This is because the Torah compares the little boy to a tree – the tree does not bear fruit until it has grown for three years. The upshernish is a community affair; all of the guests are invited to cut off a section of the child’s hair.
With the start of his formal education, the 3-year-old can begin to share his unique gifts with his family and community. And, just like the tree, a child must be nurtured consistently if he is to flourish in later life.
This is the time when the son receives his kippah and tzitzit. He also begins his Jewish studies in earnest. Along with learning the aleph-bet, he is taught to recite blessings and say the Shema.
At Levi’s upshernish, a booklet shared Torah passages from Deuteronomy and Genesis. These were a selection from the 12 verses that the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught children to recite each day. According to Rabbi Mochkin, “they contain many of Judaism’s foundational beliefs and principles.”
The Mochkins hosted the upshernish at their West Vancouver home, with members of their extended family from New York. Members of the Chabad community from Vancouver, East Vancouver and the University of British Columbia were also present, along with many local families.
Shula Klinger is an author, illustrator and journalist living in North Vancouver. Find out more at niftyscissors.com.