Thursday, December 15, 2011

Matisyahu's Beard Shaving, Does The Beard Make The Jew?



Here's his first official message about his decision to shave off his beard:


This morning I posted a photo of myself on Twitter.

No more Chassidic reggae superstar.

Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias. When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality—not through books but through real life. At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity…to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth. I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.

Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth. And for those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry…you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.

- Matisyahu

In all honesty, one doesn't need the chassidic garb and look to be a true Torah observant Jew.  I'm not one of those who considers chareidim and chassidim to be more authentic, religious and Torah observant than those of us who consider/label ourselves דתי dati religious, or Orthodox by Jewish American terminology.

Most of us are lucky; the main audience for our religious transformations and observances are just G-d and a few close friends and family.  That can be problematic enough.  But for a celebrity, who had davka been marketed as "Chassidic reggae superstar," there's absolutely no privacy.  Matisyahu runs a very serious professional risk by changing his unique and successful image.  Will his voice be enough to keep him a "superstar" without the added "gimmicks" of the full beard, flying payot and long coat?

Judaism recognizes the fact that we're never spiritually static.  That's why we're supposed to be in constant teshuva, repentance and introspection.

It would be easy to be nasty, cynical and sarcastic about Matisyahu's new look, but I'd rather not be.  Obviously he's a thinking person who has a lot to deal with.  His dialogues with G-d are painfully public.  May G-d give him and his family the strength and wisdom to cope.

Here's a video interview, post-shave.  hat tip Frum Satire

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