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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


Long ago, many of you might remember a song from the musical Hair, called "Hair." It extolled the beauty and virtue of hair.

The Torah is filled with references to hair. From the red and hairy Eisav to Absalom being hung by his hair from a tree, King David, the red headed king to two significant examples including hair in Parshat Naso, there is a lot to learn from the text about how hair defines us, glorifies us, yet also be a source of modesty.

In Parshat Naso, the Sotah, the suspected adulteress, has her hair uncovered and mussed so that she "appears despicable." From here the rabbis discern that women should cover their hair. The Nazir, an oath taker, vows to abstain from wine, approach the dead or cut his hair. Perhaps his hair represents vanity, which he wishes to leave behind during his time as a Nazir. Perhaps, like the Sotah, his hair becomes unruly and unattractive, thus creating a barrier between him and the community.

This poem explores hair, what it is to us and to others.


Your hair,

the crowning glory

a definer,


Your calling card to the world.

What is it about hair?

Dead cells multiplying

sprouting outward from our pores

like blades of grass.

Fine or coarse

curling luxuriously,

or straight as thin threads

Stretching outwards

catching the light

blowing in the wind.


Cut, waved and bouncing


brushed and plaited

Oiled or pomaded


sleeked and shined

Piled high on a head

or cascading down a back

Golden as wheat


blue black catching the light,

shimmering orange

Gray as polished steel.


Reaching or receding

or slowly disappearing.

Run your hands through it

Shake it,

tame it.

Let it fly!

Source of beauty


our health, our team,

our gang, our class,

our age.


sign of our strength

of virility.

A shining sheath of vanity;

our mane

which attracts

or repels;

invites glances,

catcalls or caresses

It grows and multiplies;

a swirling beehive,

bouncing as we walk,

or shorn close,


messages displayed


covered by cloths

large or small.

Hair hidden

Leaving the viewer to question,

to imagine.

Hair is the

quotation marks surrounding

our faces.

Hair punctuates our lives.


An extension of ourselves,

reaches outward to the world;

an invitation to others

to view, to touch.

It caps us,

completes us.

Our definition.

Our crown.

Our personal statement.

Our health.

Our downfall.

Our trap.


shows the power of others

to control our lives.


shows our own power,

our creativity.

Look in the mirror.

What does it say?

After he has made the woman*the woman Lit. “the (womanly) participant whose involvement defines the depicted situation,” namely the ritual proceeding. Labeling her as “woman” in this passage means that she is construed mainly as a party to the proceeding, rather than as her husband’s wife. See the Dictionary under ’ish. stand before יהוה, the priest shall bare the woman’s head*bare the woman’s head Or “dishevel the woman’s hair”; cf. Lev. 10.6. and place upon her hands the meal offering of remembrance, which is a meal offering of jealousy. And in the priest’s hands shall be the water of bitterness that induces the spell.

Numbers 5:18 (Translation from Sefaria)

Throughout the term of their vow as nazirite, no razor shall touch their head; it shall remain consecrated until the completion of their term as nazirite of יהוה, the hair of their head being left to grow untrimmed.

Numbers 6:5 (Translation from Sefaria)

For more on the term Nezer:

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