Musician Matisyahu has shaved his facial hair in a shocking departure from Hasidic Jewish traditions.
Matisyahu, whose birth name is Matthew Paul Miller, posted two shaven photos of himself on Twitter this morning.
He wrote the following on his Web site:
“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.”
Prior to this change, Matisyahu was a widely-recognized musician in the Jewish community and well-known (and admired by some) for his adherence to Hasidic Jewish traditions, which included not shaving his sideburns and beard.
Below are pictures (from Reuters) of Matisyahu before his shave.
Many Orthodox Jewish fans of Matisyahu are shocked and confused by this move.
“As a huge fan of your music and your personal voyage, I’m pretty confused right now,” wrote a person on his Web site.
“So ur not frum [pious] now? Or not chassidic? Or just had a shave?” wrote another commenter.
“So are you denouncing your Faith?” wrote a third fan, who put “ConfusedFan” as his handle.
In response, Matisyahu tweeted: “For all of those who are being awesome, you are awesome. For all those who are confused: today I went to the Mikva and Shul [religious washing and prayer] just like yesterday.”
Indeed, some of his fans have been supportive of his decision.
“I don’t believe we will be judged by the hair on our face, but rather by the deeds we have done, the words we have said, and the lives we have changed. I am excited to see what you will bring us in the new year!” wrote on fan on his Web site.