|Halakhic texts relating to this article|
|Babylonian Talmud:||Makkot 20a|
|Mishneh Torah:||Avodath Kokhavim 12:6|
|Shulchan Aruch:||Yoreh Deah 181|
Payot[a] (Hebrew: , plural: ?) is the Hebrew term for sidelocks or sideburns. Payot are worn by some men and boys in the Orthodox Jewish community based on an interpretation of the Tenach injunction against shaving the "sides" of one's head. Literally, pe'ah means "corner, side, edge". There are different styles of payot among Haredi or Hasidic, Yemenite, and Chardal Jews. Yemenite Jews call their sidelocks simonim (), literally, "signs", because their long-curled sidelocks served as a distinguishing feature in the Yemenite society (differentiating them from their non-Jewish neighbors).
As kabbalistic teachings spread into Slavonic lands, the custom of payot became accepted there. In 1845, the practice was banned in the Russian Empire. Crimean Karaites did not wear payot, and the Crimean Tatars consequently referred to them as zulufs?z çufutlar ("Jews without payot"), to distinguish them from the Krymchaks, referred to as zulufl? çufutlar ("Jews with payot"). Many Hasidic and Teimani Jews let their sidelocks grow particularly long. Some Haredi men grow sidelocks, but trim them or tuck them behind the ears. Even in some communities where payot are not customary among the men, young boys may grow them until the age of bar mitzvah.
The Torah says, "you shall not round off the pe'ah of your head ( )". The word pe'ah was taken to mean the hair in front of the ears extending to beneath the cheekbone, on a level with the nose (Talmud - Makkot 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 lengths and maintenance of the payot vary noticeably among Jewish groups:
Most other Hasidic groups wear their payot down and curled.
The Lithuanian Jews are less influenced by Kabbalistic practises, but still retain sidelocks to a degree, in a small number of variant styles:
A Teimani (Yemenite) Jew with peyot
Young Hasidic man with peyot
A religious Jew with peyots, Jerusalem, Israel