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Why do Hasidic Jews wear curls?

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Quick Answer

Hasidic Jewish men wear their unique sidecurls as a way of preserving an aspect of Hebrew culture. In addition to their distinctive hairstyles, Hasidic Jews of both genders typically wear styles which were historically popular among Jewish people throughout Europe.

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Full Answer

The sidecurl is also known a Payos, which means "side of the head," referring to ancient Biblical prohibitions against shaving the sides of one's head. Although the side curls are never shaved and only rarely cut, the rest of a Hasidic man's head is usually shaved or cut short. They also maintain their beards in a similar fashion. Traditional Hasidic men never shave, and only rarely cut their beards. Trimming the beard or Payos at all is not traditional and is strongly discouraged.

Payos are not unique to Hasidic Jews. Many other sects of Judaism also wear them, but they are typically kept inconspicuously behind the ears.

Other aspects of traditional Hasidic dress, including the characteristic long coat and wide-brimmed hat, are also adopted in tribute to styles which were popular in Europe before many Jewish people emigrated to Israel. In particular, many styles of Orthodox Jewish attire were outlawed by Czarist Russia, and the preservation of those traditions in spite of oppression is a chief motivating factor for their modern use.

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