A Midrash asks a very fundamental question regarding the miraculous redemption of the Israelites from ancient Egypt.
Why did they deserve to be redeemed? We know they were at an all-time spiritual low.
The Midrash explained that they were redeemed because, despite their spiritual deterioration over the 210 years of slavery, they somehow succeeded in maintaining their identity as Jews.
How do we know that, and what does it mean to maintain your identity as a Jew? The answer is that the Israelites kept their names, language, and clothing.
While one might think that external appearances are insignificant compared to the internal, the Torah teaches us otherwise. The fact that the Jews kept their external identity is what merited redemption.
Jews, throughout history, have had many external identifiers. Whether it’s a head covering, a specific garment, or peyos – which, as we recently we read about in the Chumash, Jewish men are commanded to let grow.
Whether you wear them long or as simple sideburns, peyos, like so many of these other indicators, have helped us maintain our special relationship with Torah and Hashem.