Hasidic reggae icon Matisyahu has kicked up a furor in the Jewish world. Why? Because he shaved off his beard.
This morning I posted a photo of myself on Twitter. No more Chassidic reggae superstar, Matisyahu announced on his Website. Sorry folks, all you get is me...no alias, he added.
The second Matisyahu posted pictures of his clean shaved face on Twitter, the online Jewish community started firing questions at him about his religious beliefs.
Why? The beard is the hadras ponim! The beauty of a man and represents yod-gimel middas ha-rachamim! Why would you want to take it away? You have a beautiful son- what do you want to raise him with the hot Hollywood parties or real spirituality,' said momBH in a comment on Matisyahu's Website.
Chopping his beard may not have been the most kosher stunt Matisyahu has pulled, but he assured his fans that his religious beliefs were still intact.
When I became religious 10 years ago, it was a natural organic process and my own 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, he wrote in a blog on his Website.
Now Matisyahu says he is reclaiming himself, Trusting goodness and his divine mission.
He tried to reassure his fans saying, For those concerned with my naked face, don't worry....you haven't seen the last of my facial hair. But most of his fans were not amused.
No Jew can rely on themselves to guide them through the right path, said Eva is a comment on Matiyahu's Website. If that were true we would need no Torah. you can love all Jews and include all jews but the customs, traditions and mitzvos you take on become a part of you, a part of what you transmit to your children, the vehicle through while holiness enters your life. You can't shed them as your style changes and expect your soul to remain unscathed, pure.
Not everyone was adverse to the new look. Many fans wrote to Matisyahu telling him he looked beautiful and that no one should be judged as a result of his facial hair, or lack thereof.
There is no obligation in Judaism to wear a beard, according to Rabbi Yonah Bookstein. Facial hair is meant to be an adornment for the face, say the rabbis. The Torah instructs us about how to cut the beard -- no razors allowed, leave the upper part of the sideburns -- but doesn't require a man to have a beard, he wrote in a blog on the Huffington Post adding that while some associate taking off the beard with a lapse in religious observance, that is simply not the case.
Matisyahu, originally from West Chester, Pa., is best known for blending traditional Jewish themes with reggae, and hip-hop beat boxing. His single A King Without a Crown, made the top 40 in the U.S charts. In all his live gigs the singer would support the traditional Hasidic male look of a beard, black hat, black pants and a white shirt.