As mentioned, it is customary to hold or at least start the upsherinish in a holy setting, in a synagogue or a house of study. Both the mother and father should be present at the upsherinish. In addition, relatives and friends of the family are invited to participate, for it is customary to hold the celebration with many people, recalling the verse:1 “The glory of the King is among the multitude of people.”2

The child should wear tzitzis for this ceremony.3 A person of spiritual stature is asked to be the first to snip off a lock of the child’s hair. On one occasion,4 the Rebbe advised that the first person to cut the hair should be a kohen, then a levi, and then, a yisrael. Afterwards, each of the people in attendance may be given a turn.5

(It is not necessary to finish cutting the child’s hair at the upsherinish. A portion can be cut off there and the remainder cut off at home or by a barber. One should not, however, employ a gentile barber for this purpose.6)

The Rebbe would begin by cutting the hair near the peyos, close to the child’s ear. The rationale appears that since the purpose of the custom is to train the child to observe the mitzvah of not shaving his peyos, the cutting should begin there.7

The hair should be collected and buried, rather than thrown in the garbage. The Minchas Elazar would weigh the hairs and give an equivalent amount of coins to charity.8

Based on a letter from the Rebbe’s father,9 there are many who follow the practice of giving the child whose hair is being cut money to give to tzedakah. In that letter, the Rebbe’s father draws a parallel to the custom of giving Chanukah gelt.

At the ceremony, the child whose hair is being cut should recite the verse Torah Tzivah. There are many who have the other children in attendance complete the recitation of the twelve pesukim selected by the Rebbe.

Some mark the occasion with a celebratory feast. At the very least, pastry and L’Chayims10 should be served. The child should be given an opportunity to recite blessings. Many enhance the celebration with song and music.11