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Orthodox Man with Beard by David Shankbone.jpg
Haredi Jewish man with untrimmed beard and pe'ot
Halakhic texts relating to this article
Torah: Leviticus 19:27
Babylonian Talmud: Makkot 20a
Mishneh Torah: Avodath Kokhavim 12:6
Shulchan Aruch: Yoreh Deah 181

Payot (Hebrew: פֵּאָה‎‎; plural: פֵּאוֹת), also pronounced pe'ot, peyot; or payos, peyos, peyois, payois in Ashkenazi pronunciation, is the Hebrew word for sidelocks or sidecurls. Payot are worn by some men and boys in the Orthodox Jewish community based on an interpretation of the Biblical injunction against shaving the "corners" of one's head. Literally, pe'ah means "corner, side, edge". There are different styles of payot among Haredi, Yemenite, and Hasidic Jews. Yemenite Jews call their sidelocks simonim (סִימָנִים), literally "signs", because their long-curled sidelocks served as a distinguishing feature in the Yemenite society (differentiating them from their non-Jewish neighbors).

The Torah says, "You shall not round off the pe'at (פְּאַת) of your head" (Leviticus 19:27). The word pe'at was taken to mean the hair in front of the ears extending to beneath the cheekbone, on a level with the nose (TalmudMakkot 20a). The Mishnah interpreted the regulation as applying only to men. Thus it became the custom in certain circles to allow the hair over the ears to grow, and hang down in curls or ringlets. According to Maimonides, shaving the sidelocks was a heathen practice. There is considerable discussion in the halachic literature as to the precise location of the payot and of the ways in which their removal is prohibited.

The Yemenite Jews have an ancient history of payot, one of the first recorded mentions of them was recorded during the birth of Islam by Abdullah ibn Masud, who was reported to have referred to Zayd ibn Thabit as a former Jewish boy with two payot.

  • The Belz Hasidim are careful to never trim their payot; rather, they wrap their sidelocks around their ears as many times as necessary.
  • Many Breslov Hasidim wear long twisted locks as did their Rabbi, Nachman of Breslov. However, others wear their payot in different styles in line with the teaching of Rabbi Nachman that his followers should not have a uniform garb.
  • The Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim's payot are not evident, but they exist. So long as there is hair around the ear and behind it that can be plucked out, that is considered payot.
  • Some Gerer Hasidim raise their sidelocks from the temples and tuck them under their yarmulke. Others, especially in Israel, let them hang down.
  • The Skver Hasidim twist their sidelocks into a tight coil, and leave them protruding in front of the ear.
  • Some traditional Yemenite Jews still wear distinctive long and thin twisted locks, often reaching to the upper arm. The actual area where the hair grows and where the ringlet begins is neat and tidy.
  • Lithuanian Jews often cut their sidelocks, but leave a bunch of strands uncut, and place them behind the ear; this style is most commonly found among yeshiva students, who sometimes remove the uncut strands when they have grown sideburns.
  • The Brisk movement's members brush their hair straight down, usually so that it reaches to the ear lobe; sometimes, some of the sidelock is not cut, and is curled back behind the ear.


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