http://revach.net/article.php?id=2620

Section: DAF YOMI   Category: Lessons From The Daf
An Explanation "For The Beards"

When Rabbi Yehoshua from Sosnovitz was a nine year old boy, his father took him to the Rav of the city to be tested on his learning. The Rav asked him to say over the first Mishna in the fourth perek of Gittin (32a). The child explained the words of  Mishna "Hiskin Raban Gamliel HaZaken" to mean "Rabban Gamliel decreed regarding the beards" rather than "the old Raban Gamliel decreed". He mistook the word Zken to mean bears in stead of old.  The Rav realized that the boy couldn't even translate the words of the Mishna correctly, let alone, explain it properly! Yet, he was hesitant to inform the father of this, for he thought that it would cause him too much pain.

Reb Yehoshua's father returned and asked the Rav for his assessment of his child. The Rav just related to him the boy's translation of the Mishna, so the father could ascertain for himself. When the father heard this explanation, he proclaimed, "I didn't know that my son was on such a lofty level!"

Many years later, when Reb Yehoshua became well known as one of the righteous men in the generation, there was an edict issued from the government that all Jews are required to shave off their beards. They came to Reb Yehoshua for his advice and to beseech him to pray on their behalf that the decree should be nullified. Reb Yehoshua responded: "When I was a child, I explained the Mishna to mean that Rabban Gamliel decreed regarding the beards. The meaning is that Rabban Gamliel decreed that no nation will have the ability to interfere with the beards of the Jewish people. There is nothing at all to be concerned about." It was only a short time afterward that the decree was rescinded!