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The Beard

The Beard



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?


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
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Discussion (23)
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
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
May 11, 2016
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 ?
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
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?
March 1, 2016
To Anon in Torrance
In my experience, chassidic Jews wear their beards with pride to interviews, and people generally respond with respect, understanding and admiration.

By all means, go ahead and brush your beard and even roll it up nicely. There is nothing wrong with that.

Also note that there are many religious Jews who shave (of course with a shaver that does not give too close a trim). If you think you should be one of them, speak to your community rabbi and determine what makes sense for you.
Abraham Gugenheim
March 1, 2016
Halakhah and job interview

What do you do if you need to guard the mitzvot of the Torah with regards to your beard while at the same time getting ready for a job interview? We need to make a living and get work; yet also need to make sure that the we are zealous to guard the Torah. What needs to be done? Thank you for your time.
Torrance, CA
November 28, 2014
Greetings and shalom,

High praise Rabbi Aron for your most scholarly answer on the importance of the Beard! If only this were before my eyes prior to November 2012 I would have sought you while staying in Australia at that time on holiday to thank you personally. I am a writer on the topic of Beards for a very mixed audience - some of the faith or similar Judeo-Christian teaching, some from other faiths; all who grow beards understand a sense of divine eminence the longer the beard grows. I am writing in one of my blogs to point more beard growers to your article via a link.
W E Alley Jr
Rhode Island USA
March 10, 2014

As a woman, I can't grow a beard. Is there a womanly analogue to the increase in spirituality of hair growing down from the head? Is a woman's head hair an analogue.

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