Why is an upsherin of a little boy compared to the din of orlah, where the fruit of a tree become permitted after three years?
Now the mashal is like this. When a little boy is old enough to go to the toilet himself – that’s usually at the age of three; he’s able to take care of himself – so we put tzitzis on him and we cut his hair to let him know that he has to have peyos. We cut the hair just because of peyos; we don’t take off everything. And that way we start him off on his career as an oved Hashem.
Now, he’s not aware of anything. You give him some candy, some toys and he thinks that this all it’s for. But we understand you must make a beginning someday and the parents should realize that on the fourth year, that’s the end of the third year, you have to say hallel to Hashem. The chillul, when you redeem him, is a hallel to Hashem (Brachos 35a). We are praising Hashem. We are thanking Him that he finished three years. Baruch Hashem he’s starting the fourth year now – he’s like peiros that we redeem after three years and we’re ready to start enjoying him at the beginning of a Jewish career.
Of course he’s Jewish when he’s born but he’s not aware of it and he doesn’t show it. But by means of cutting off the hair and leaving the peyos and putting tzitzis on him he begins his career as an oved Hashem.
TAPE #E-150 (July 30, 1998)