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The Beard

The Beard

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Question:

I have often wondered why many religious Jews have long hairy beards. Is this, like the kipah, a means of identifying oneself as a Jew or do the beards serve some other purpose?

Answer:

There is more to the beard than just identifying as a Jew. According to Kabbalah the beard should not even be trimmed, but should be allowed to grow freely. Why?

Kabbalistically, our outer physical appearance is a reflection of our inner spiritual reality. The hands represent our ability to give and receive. The feet symbolize the power to progress. What does the beard represent?

One of the greatest struggles in life is to live up to our ideals. Many of us know what is right in our minds, but find it difficult to apply that knowledge in our daily lives. Often we do things that we know are wrong, but feel we "couldn't help ourselves". For example, we know that it is wrong to lose our temper, but when we get annoyed at someone we find it impossible to control our anger. Or we may know that it is good to give charity, but never get around to actually giving.

Between theory and practice there is a huge gulf. It is one thing to have good intentions, but that is far from actually doing good. It is like realizing a dream; without diligence, determination and hard work, it will always remain just a dream.

The greatest step we can take in our personal growth is learning to bridge this gap and implement our good intentions.

This is what the beard represents. The beard is hair that grows down from the head to the rest of the body. It is the bridge between mind and heart, thoughts and actions, theory and practice, good intentions and good deeds.

So we don't cut the beard, but rather let it flow freely, to open a direct flow from the ideals and philosophies of our minds into our everyday lifestyle.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (27)
January 14, 2017
Thank you for the profitable information you provide.
Anonymous
January 3, 2017
But not only that....
Excuse me. May I add that my reading of the Zohar has taught me that
also, the hairs of the beard are actually part of the brain? I think it says that each strand of the beard flows out of the hidden brain? I will look it up better but i'm working on something else right now. But i know the beard is some extension of the brain. An actual extension of it and it should never be cut. Now i am remembering a dream i had where i had a nice beard - sort of fluffy though - not very manly - and why should a beard disqualify a person from employment? If anyone thinks that is happening, please contact me. Not Fair! I say, go on your job interview appropriately attired and bearded and let's see what happens. I would love to know the experiences of other Chassidic men in this regard. Could we start a separate thread? Thank you.
M. Diane
Flushing, NY
January 2, 2017
Beautiful answer.
Anonymous
Glasgow
December 29, 2016
Luanne, this doubt has already been explained in 2007:

"Women are regarded as more spiritually elevated in Judaism. They do not need the outer physical connection of the beard to help with their inner because they have the connection between body and mind without it. This has nothing to do with men are better. In fact, it's almost the opposite." - although the user didn't explain why "almost".
Acácio Florentino
Capivari de Baixo, Santa Catarina - Brazil
August 15, 2016
Thank you for that answer. I was curious too. That's quite an insight. So what do women do to remind themselves of that same thing? Not cut the hair on our heads?
Luanne Black
Tallahassee Florida
June 28, 2016
Sir i have half beard bt i want full beard
chaitanya
May 15, 2016
Re: Mustache
It is okay to trim the mustache if it gets in the way of eating.

Chabad does have peyos, just not long curly ones.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
May 11, 2016
Mustache
I have a beard which I have completely stopped shaving or trimming , however my mustache does become a nuisance, especially when eating, it always gets in my mouth , I was wondering if it's permitted to trim it to keep it out of my mouth when eating (even thinking there maybe incidents where food could get in and make meat or milk contaminate what I'm eating or something ) ? Also a side question (no pun intended) why doesn't Chabad wear payes ?
Anonymous
March 9, 2016
Re: Question about beards
It is permitted to to roll and tuck one's beard so that it doesn't interfere with daily activities.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
March 8, 2016
Question about beards
Now there's a fuss within the IDF over beards I was wondering whether it's permitted to braid or tie one's beard so as not to get it stuck in military equipment?
Yente
Israel/Canada