The Long & Short of Beards

Question: Is there any real difference between a very short beard and a clean shave (with
a permitted razor)? Is the "tzura of Jew" supposed to be a bushy beard, or
does a very short one count, too? How important is it to have a beard, bushy or not?


It is not necessary to sport a beard. Many God-fearing Jews are clean-shaven.
There are times when it is assur to shave one’s face, but I do not think
you are referring to that period. Traditionally rabbis have had beards; each community
has its own culture and customs in this regard. Halochoh does not suggest sporting
a beard; frum society does.

The Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 35:1) mentions facial hair as an indication of physical
maturity, but that plays no role in a decision whether to sport a beard or not.
It is not so important to have a beard. For some communal positions, some communities
will show preference for a person with a beard. A ba’al tefilloh on the
Yomim Noraim or a shochet for example, are positions often held by
people with beards. Generally a rabbi is also framed with a beard. There are no
rules about the type of beard. Some communities will only consider a shochet,
rov or ba’al tefilloh if he never shaved in his life; others have
less stringent standards, down to not requiring a beard at all. I have not found
that halochoh indicates any preference to a bearded person as a qualification
for any position. The poskim mention many qualifications and preferences
for a ba’al tefilloh on the Yomim Noraim. For example; being a
talmid chochom
, God-fearing Jew, over 30 years old, married and never having
made a legal claim in a secular court without permission from a Beis Din are all
preferences mentioned by the poskim. Sporting a beard, however, is not.

BookID: 4 Chapter: 35:1

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