Ok people, I have to write about this because I too was shocked and distraught and confused at the news that Matisyahu, the infamous frum, Jewish, Chassidic and bearded music star, shaved off his beard. Yes, that’s right, shaved off his beard. I know this sounds not like much news at all, but this has sprouted into Jewish mayhem.
The original announcement was pretty confusing. I definitely read it as an announcement to not be frum because of the wording “No more Chassidic reggae superstar” and “I am reclaiming myself”. It’s a good thing Matisayu clarified things with a simple tweet: “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 just like yesterday”. Clearly, still on the derech, just with a little less beard. Still very much within halacha. This of course begs the question of how we as baalei teshuva move up and down and left and right within the religious levels, groups and mitzvahs, and how that affects us internally as well as how it impacts on those around us. It’s not easy to change ourselves, it’s even harder for those around us, who are always affected by the changes and yet don’t see the internal processes that are behind the changes. How does your family, friends, and community react to your external changes within Judaism? How do you take them on your journey without getting wires crossed?
I’ve been watching the various news, blogs, tweets, etc that have sprawled about this, since Matisyahu himself made the announcement more than 12 hours ago. There’s no point over analysing it now, but it is interesting to note how the different Jewish groups have responded to all this. Here’s a bit of a summary:
- The original announcement explained on the Matisyahu website (don’t forget to read the comments)
- Chabad Lubavitch try to explain why beards are pious
- One Rabbi’s views about people jumping to conclusions and why beards are not necessary
- A frum satire view about why this has even made the media and puts a funny spin on why Matisyahu shaved off the beard
- Aish HaTorah? Keeping quiet for the moment…
- LATEST – Watch a clip of a radio interview with Matisyahu (with visuals!) sharing where his changes have come from. Really special to see him talking so openly and with such humility. Image change or not, this is real tzniut.
- A Rabbinical approach to beards and personal growth
- Another ‘analysis’ from The Daily Rabbi
Speaking of music and Jews and media…check out this Jewish singing contest – A Jewish Star (can’t believe this is really in the media – who would watch this except for religious Jews?)