Are Longer Sideburns a Hiddur Mitzvah?

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Q. Is it excessively stringent to leave sideburns to the bottom of the earlobe?
A. One opinion maintains that the peyos must extend to the bottom of the earlobe. This opinion is supported by the language of the Shulchan Aruch (YD 181:9) which states that the peyos must extend to the “bottom of the ear”. Thus, this opinion is not extreme since it appears consistent with the Shulchan Aruch. (Shulchan HaLevi p. 123).
In addition, Rav Yisroel Belsky zt”l felt that extending the length of the peyos beyond what is halachically required is a fulfillment of the concept of hidur mitzvah, beautification of the mitzvah. Just as there is hidur mitzvah by using aesthetically pleasing objects (such as a beautiful pair of tefillin or a beautiful esrog – see Shabbos 133b) so too there is a hidur mitzvah by sporting longer peyos, which demonstrate our pride in the mitzvah. This is evident from the fact that Jews throughout the centuries, living in many different countries, have grown longer peyos than are halachically mandated. (Shulchan HaLevi p. 124)
This column comes from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis dedicated in memory of Rav Chaim Yisroel ben Reb Dov HaLevy Belsky, zt’l, Senior OU Kosher Halachic Consultant (1987-2016). Subscribers can also ask their own questions on Kashrus issues and send them togrossmany@ou.org. These questions and their answers may be selected to become one of the Q and A’s on OU Kosher Halacha Yomis.

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