When a bochur in a certain yeshiva began growing his beard, his rosh yeshiva said that he looked “like a hippie.” But when the bochur repeated that to the Rebbe, the Rebbe had a different perspective.
Reb Leibel Schapiro of Miami relates:
A bochur in a non-chassidishe yeshiva, who had been inspired by Chassidus, began becoming more stringent in his mitzva observance. After a while, he also stopped shaving his beard, to the dismay of his peers and teachers.
One day, his rosh yeshiva chastised him for the new path he had taken. “Your beard makes you look like a hippie,” he quipped.
Feeling forlorn, this bochur poured out his heart to the Rebbe. He also repeated the remark his rosh yeshivah had made about his beard.
The Rebbe responded, “The Torah (Vayikra 19:27) states clearly that it is forbidden to destroy one’s beard. According to many authorities, this means that cutting the beard is a lav d’oraisa (biblical transgression).
“And indeed,” concluded the Rebbe emphatically, “tell your rosh yeshivah, that if a Jewish hippie lets his beard grow, then he indeed fulfills this mitzva every single day!”
(As heard from Reb Leibel Schapiro)
From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash