Can priests trim their beards? How about monks? What is the meaning behind the beard and how did it originate?
The tradition of religious men such as priests and monks having beards goes back to the Old Testament (see Leviticus 19:27; 21:5) and to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who also had a beard. In the Old Testament, the priest's beard was a symbol of his dedication and consecration to God. Even Jewish rabbis today keep this tradition and observe the custom of having long beards. David the prophet illustrates the beauty of brethren dwelling together in unity as precious oil upon the head of Aaron the priest that runs down upon his beard (see Psalm 133:2). Among the restrictions for the Nazarites (see Judges 13-16 regarding Samson) was that their hair could not be cut. Monks and ascetics also leave their beards to grow as a sign of rejecting vanity. Priests and monks in the Coptic Orthodox tradition must have beards.