On Lag B’omer, thousands of parents will travel to Meron to give their three-year-old boys the first haircut of their lives. At this momentous time, it is the minhag of many in Klal Yisrael to officially introduce the upsheren boy to the world of Torah learning and mitzvos. Some call this event the “areinfirnish.” Another name is “hachnasas l’cheder”. But no matter what you call it, this occasion leaves the curly-haired toddler with a lifetime impression of the incredible sweetness of the Torah Hakedoshah. Meet four fantastic rebbeim who host upsheren boys on this special day for a peek behind the scenes!
Areinfirnish: What’s The Purpose?
Rav Brecher, Talmudical Academy, Baltimore, MD: Rav Hauer, rav of Shaarei Zion in Baltimore, summed it beautifully like this: One of the most important purposes of the areinfirnish is to give the child a good feeling about cheder. Therefore, even if children never got the opportunity to go when they were three, it is still beneficial to take them when they are older so that they can have a positive association with learning.
Rav Feldman, The Torah School, Baltimore, MD: We have the areinfirnish specifically at three years old because it is then that the child’s mind is beginning to open up and we want to begin his lifelong goal of learning Torah with a strong taste of the Torah’s sweetness.
Rav Wilansky: The upsheren boy is taken to cheder wrapped in a tallis so that he does not see anything improper. When he comes into the classroom he usually sits on the rebbi’s lap with his father standing behind him and throughout the entire event, either his father or his Zaide shower him with candies. The child is told that the malach Michoel is throwing candies on him! A special cake made with milk and honey is brought and it is also customary to have an egg. There are certain pesukim written onto the cake and the egg (some people even use special food coloring markers to etch the words on the egg) and the child is supposed to eat up all of the words. Sometimes the cake is so big that he can’t do it in one shot, so he takes it home and eats it over a period of time. Also, the class is more than happy to help him polish off the rest of the cake! The most important thing is for the child to realize that Torah is sweet like honey. It is an extremely auspicious time for the entire family, not the just the upsheren boy. Some parents have the minhag to take their child to the mikvah that morning and many give tzedakah on that day.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 761)