It seems like most of the Jews I know have posted the same message on Facebook in the last hour: Matisyahu shaved his beard – he’s gone post-Orthodox. This is an interesting story, no doubt, because Matisyahu has for years been recognized by his Hebrew rhymes, his reggae style, and his Chasidic beard.
The new Matisyahu says he’s enlightened, that he no longer wants to be tied down to rituals and rules.
Matisyahu subtly dropped the bombshell on Twitter with this comment—“At the break of day I look for you at sunrise When the tide comes in I lose my disguise”—and a image pair of links. On his website he said:
This morning I posted a photo of myself on Twitter.
No more Chassidic reggae superstar.
That’s the beardless Matisyahu pictured. Personally, I think he looked a lot better with the beard (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a bearded fella.) He explains that 10 years ago, when he started exploring his Jewish roots, he kind of fell into Orthodoxy:
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
But I see something else here. Matisyahu declaring himself post-Orthodox reminds me of so many musicians who broke through as Christian performers but once mainstream wanted the world to know that they aren’t just Christian musicians. Yet, Matisyahu has never had trouble attracting a non-religious crowd.
So what motivated Matisyahu to shave his beard? Is he saying that his perspective on Judaism has changed? That he has changed?
*UPDATED: To be clear, none of this is to suggest that Matisyahu no longer identifies as a Jew or even as an observant Jew. By “post-Orthodox,” I simply meant that his understanding of what it means to be Jewish has changed and is no longer confined to the Chasidic rituals that his beard has long identified him with.
(h/t: Hollywood Jew)