Rav Avigdor Miller on Beards, Authority and Equality



What was Hashem’s purpose when He caused men to grow beards?


We have to study that.  A beard you must know is a sign of authority.  It makes the chin bigger. If you have a big chin, you’re more assertive, you’re more important.  And so the purpose of the beard is to emphasize the size of the face and to elongate the chin; and it means that men must be the leaders.

Now, it’s only here that I can say that.  Outside, you would be an apikores; but we have to understand that the truth of the world is that men must always take the lead.  Women must be only second mates and not captains. And no matter what you read in the newspapers, no matter what kind of laws are passed or what verdicts silly judges will give, there’s no such thing as equality between men and women.  It’s a false dream.  There never was such a thing until America; and like all crazy things that are happening in America this stupidity is also taking place today.

Women should not be judges.  Women become radicals.  They fly off the handle.  Men are more deliberate in judgment.  The career of a woman when she is most successful is when she is in her family and she is raising children.  That’s her happiness and success.  A woman who goes to Congress or a woman who is a councilwoman is a total failure.  It’s a disaster.  Not only is it a disaster for the community, it’s a disaster for her.  She didn’t get married.  She didn’t have children.  The whole glory of a woman is the family that she produced.  Forever and ever those children will produce merit, zechuyos, that go to the father and the mother.  How fortunate is a mother who has sons and daughters that will walk in the way of Hashem.  That’s the career, that’s the profession for which a woman was created. And therefore women don’t have beards.  It’s important to realize that women are marked and men are marked.

Now of course there are certain other purposes.  Of course if women had beards, nobody would marry them.  There’s no question a woman with a mustache would wait a long time before anybody proposed to her.  And so that’s one of the reasons why a woman doesn’t have a beard but it’s certainly true that the purpose of the Borei Yisborach is to give the authority to man.  There’s no question about that and no matter what the modern orthodox will tell you, you cannot deny the testimony of nature, the testimony of history, and the testimony of the Torah itself.

So now you know why it’s worthwhile for a man to grow a beard – to let him know that he’s a man.  Otherwise, you might think he’s an old woman.

That’s his heritage.  That’s his right.  It’s his right in the family.  He sits at the head of the table.  The beard recognizes that he’s the leader of the family. And therefore when people live according to nature, they’re living according to Torah. But when they remove the beard so they’re lacking the symbolism of nature and naturally they’re lacking the symbolism of the Torah.

TAPE # 729 (March 1989)