The Disguise Comes Off: Matisyahu Shaves Off Beard Says He’s ‘No More Chassidic Reggae Superstar’

(Tuesday, December 13th, 2011)

Orthodox Jewish rapper Matisyahu took to his twitter page today and posted some pictures that appeared to the be rapper without his beard. He also posted this slightly cryptic message, ” At the break of day I look for you at sunrise When the tide comes in I lose my disguise.”

Shortly after, he released the following statment:

This morning I posted a photo of myself on Twitter.

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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


(Dov Gordon – YWN)

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  1. akuperma says:

    So is he giving up on Shabbos. It would certainly be profitable economically for him to do so.

  2. stamamen says:

    This is the natural result of being involved in treif and pritzusdik music.

  3. yitayningwut says:

    Somehow I feel violated. Wow.

  4. yippie hippie says:

    The guy is a huge druggie.

    It is a shocker that they are selling this lowlives music in your local seforim stores.

    People should demand they remove it from the shelves immedietley.

    I have been telling people that this guy is of the lowest drek of society for ages, but no, organizations like HASC hired him for their concert.

  5. Shnitzel says:

    Who is shocked?

    Not me.

  6. a jew says:

    Wow a guy shaves and now that makes him a mechalel shabbos. Kuperman use your head. Big deal so he shaved az vos?

  7. Ferd says:

    Ever notice how Amnon Yitzchak only goes after people sitting and learning in Kollel like Yaakov Shwekey, but the Mattisyahu’s go untouched.

    Just a thought to ponder.

  8. isaac1554 says:

    Why do you have to judge him? Because he takes off beard does that mean he is not jewish? Is not Shomer Shabbus? By your comments you are all just driving people away. His music is away to make a living. At least it is an honest one.

  9. teeter3 says:

    Classic Chabad.


    Don’t worry, they will soon come running wild and claim he left Chabad ages ago, and they have n shaychis to him.

  10. Suushe says:

    #8 Honest living……smoking lots of drugs.

    Honest…and law-breaking trash.

    And nothing like a role-model for our children.

    Yours maybe.

  11. aaym says:

    did he say he’s leaving the fold, I mean come on. I dont listen to his music, because it isn”t music, but to throw him to dogs for shaving????

  12. cb1 says:

    Ferd says:
    December 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm
    Ever notice how Amnon Yitzchak only goes after people sitting and learning in Kollel like Yaakov Shwekey, but the Mattisyahu’s go untouched.

    only a “Ferd” can go so low as to poke fun at Gedolei Yisroel. Just saying

  13. Milhouse says:

    #9, he DID leave Chabad ages ago. And yes, Chabad paskens like the Tzemach Tzedek, who regards all shaving as an issur de’oraisa.

  14. MDG says:

    I don’t see any sideburns (payot harosh).

  15. Nisht Ahe Nisht Aher says:

    So is he giving up frumkeit?
    or just the beard?

  16. charlie brown says:

    I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.

    sounds like he is dropping all of yidishkeit, r”l, not just the beard. Nebach. Hopefully he’ll come back.

  17. cleverjewishpun says:

    To everyone saying “I told you he would drop the frumkeit eventually”…bravo, you came up with yet more incontrivertable evidence that you are right and everything having to do with secular culture will turn you into a mechalel shabbous apikores!

    To everyone defending him, stop. You arent going to convince the haters to feel anything other than victory.

    He’s probably all worn out from non stop touring and being in the spotlight from everyone waiting for him to fail.

    I can see him focusing more on his music than the costume that he wore to get people to pay attention in the first place.

  18. baronzev says:

    This is a problem. Don’t get me wrong-a beard is a great thing etc. etc. but the emphasis and the primacy in Chabad of the beard over other things contribute to problems like this-that its either a beard or not frum-no in between. And, on the other hand, if he wasn’t acting right beforehand, then the beard (on or off) doesn’t change anything.

  19. zvei dinim says:

    All us bloggers swiping gedolei hador at every possible shot cannot say we’re not responsible for this one.

  20. Yatzmich says:

    His whole catch was that he was a “frum” or “Jewish” rapper. The whole scene of it was that he looks “hassidic” but sounds like a real rapper. Now without thebeard, he’s just like the rest of them & the challenge for him to remain at the top of his game will be much harder. I’m curious to see how long his carrer will last. If it fails, he’ll really be miserable.

    (Juat as an aside, he used to be hakol kol eisav, vihayodayim yiday yaakov, now he’s yadayim yidai eisav!)

  21. Yoiske says:

    actually, it’s not illegal to sing reggae in America
    or to shave
    or to not conform to the way you think he should look
    and when’s the last time you saw him taking any kind of drugs?

  22. BSD says:

    Aside from the main issue of him destroying his neshama, it is possible and even likely that a lot of his appeal was being a rapping rabbi-it is iconic, ironic, fascinating, heartwarming (to the masses who don’t have anything meaningful in their lives). It added a dimension of depth and purpose to an otherwise meaningless and empty type of music. Having shaved his beard and discarded his religion along with it, he loses his distinction and becomes just another name in a long list of rappers with little appeal. There is no longer that spark that sets him apart. His frumkeit also brought on his successful career, and I predict his reversion to secularism will be a harbinger to a failed career.

  23. RamatShilo says:

    all he said is he shaved!! leave the guy alone– look at his tweet 5 minutes ago–

    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 – Matisyahu

  24. besalel says:

    i guess he finally figured out that it is entirely possible to be a 100% kosher jew and not be chassidish.

    most chassids i know are not very religious at all, come to think of it.

    so he doesnt want to be chassidish – so what? in fact, it kind of disturbed me that when speaking publicly of his religion he would speak of chassidus and not judaism.

    naysayers, let the man be a jew even if he is not a chassid.

    and if he chooses not to be a jew either – well if hashem gave him the bechira to choose not to be jewish then who am i to argue?

  25. takingabreak says:

    people do things that are not torahdik(like some of the venues he has catered to) and now your shocked? was he some kind of tzadik before that you are so surprised now?

  26. smilingrps2 says:

    To everyone out there, we live in difficult times ! #1 there’s no talking about any Gedolim, who are we to speak, we’re better of staying quiet and do some introspection…..and how about being dan lekaf zchus, who says anything is changing about his Yiddishkeit, for all you know he went to Shul today and goes on with a different orientation in Yiddishkeit. We’re all a big army and everyone has a different job and way….so lets respect each other and gedolim, and give him a chance!!

  27. BubbyLa says:

    The jumping to conclusions are so against frumkeit.
    My son is friends with his wife’s first cousin and to quote him “He’s still ortho and the family is on board with him”.
    Anyone involved with baalei tshuva knows that they tend to swing to an extreme and eventually swing back near the middle. AS FRUM JEWS, WE SHOULD ALWAYS BE DAN L’KAF ZECHUS!

  28. ashleigh says:

    There is something seriously wrong with commenters on here who rush to say things like “so he’s not keeping Shabbos” and “he gave up on Judaism” etc. Seriously? You’re really not helping the Jewish Orthodox ’cause’ (for lack of a better word) here. Where exactly in his post did he write that he’s abandoning Yiddishkeit?? And not just that, but most of you here sound almost happy to see him ‘stray’, if you can even call it that. Leaving a sect of Judaism doesn’t mean he’s leaving Judaism altogether. If that were true, I’d be considered a total goy. It’s people like all of you on here that turn off the appeal of Judaism to so many. All the judgement based on someone’s appearance, like it’s the most important thing to be concerned about. Never mind what anyone actually does or believes, but if you don’t have a beard (or wig) of perfect length, and a white shirt, then you’re considered an bum. I stopped keeping too many things in my early teens which I didn’t deem ‘important’ because I saw the shallow obsessions of the community with such trivial matters and became disgusted with all of it. I came to realize on my own, though, that this isn’t real Yiddishkeit. This is a distorted version of the real thing. (I’m not justifying here anything I’ve done, I’m just making a point of the impression and the effect such behavior has on many.)
    Sad to see how someone shaving his beard and tweeting about it makes such headlines in the Jewish community.

  29. yichusdik says:

    There’s an old Yiddish saying attributed to an anonymous Rabbi “As long as he is an honest man his trimmed beard does not bother me. Better a Jew without a beard than a beard without a Jew.”

    I don’t know what his choices ultimately will be. I’ve met the man, about 6 years ago, and he struck me as a genuine gentle soul, but also someone who is always seeking closeness to HKBH, and hadn’t found it yet.

    The “derech” such as it is, is a broad, multi lane highway, not the narrow one lane road paved with eggshells so many posters here seem to see it as.

    Nonetheless, they are right to the extent that even on the broad highway, you need to stay out of the ditches and be careful of the rough shoulders, while traveling in the direction of HKBH. I hope he stays on it, because though you and I may not feel we need his hashpo’oh, his music has always been positive and full of good messages for Jews and non Jews alike, and our world needs positive messages.

  30. Jothar says:

    He tweeted that he still goes to mikveh and shul.

  31. smilingrps2 says:

    To everyone out there, we live in difficult times ! #1 there’s no talking about any Gedolim, who are we to speak, we’re better off staying quiet and do some introspection…..and how about being dan lekaf zchus, who says anything is changing about his Yiddishkeit, for all you know he went to Shul today and goes on with a different orientation in Yiddishkeit. We’re all a big army and everyone has a different job and way….so lets respect each other and gedolim, and give him a chance!!

  32. wanderingchana says:

    Throwing a couple possibilities out there…

    1) His Twitter account was hacked

    2) He’s been sucked in by the messianics (please G-d, no, but a couple of phrases in his statement make me wonder).

  33. Baal Boose says:

    when i read the post and went to look at the comments i knew i’d see hateful stuff.
    1) #4 Hippie; So you’ve condemned and grouped together; him, the local sforim stores, and HASC all in one post. Also “the lowest drek of society”? Wow you really have anger issues.
    2) #10 Sushee; Law braking trash? and then you vilify someone else’s children?
    3) #12 cb1; calling someone a Ferd? cuz he has a different opinion. (of course not as good as yours)
    TO EVERYONE; Shouldn’t a frum site filled with people who think thy are better than i am, be a bit more polite?

  34. sephardicpride says:

    I sat next to him in Shul just last week at a Lakewood style minyan here in LA. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the guy.

  35. Mordy says:

    Even if we are to judge him fairly, his Channukah music video (Miracle) shows that he definitely has the wrong hashkafah about yiddishkeit. In the video, he is seen wearing a Santa Claus outfit. Also, an immodest figure skater appears, and at one point, he is lying in bed and standing next to him is a women completely untzinnusdik. Without going into the question of whether he is still frum or not, I believe the time has come for the rabbonim to tell everyone to throw away any music CD’s of Mattisyahu. How ironic that that he is diluting yiddishkeit when the original Mattisyahu stood for the exact opposite.

  36. Git Meshige says:

    My biggest question is why YWN is allowing such blatant Loshon Hora and Moitzee Shem Rah on a yid.
    After 120 years in Beis Din Shel Mallah, they will not say” hey Yid, where is your beard”, they will say “hey, beard, where is your yid.”
    Today we have “frum” yidden with long beards doing the worst possible aveirois and yet when a frum yid, shaves his beard off, its a free for all to trash a yid on a public forum??????? Where is any of your sensitivity toward another yid? Shame on all of you, including YWN for encouraging loshon hora on the highest level

  37. chavamom says:

    Thank G0d most baalei teshuva are able to figure out where they fit on the spectrum of frumkeit without having to act it out in the headlines (HEADLINES!) of the national media. Raise your hand if you knew a BT who grew peyos, cut them off, grew a beard, shaved, wore a srugi, wore a Bors….you get the picture. He became a “chassidic superstar” when he was a fresh BT. Cut the guy some slack! May he be a gebenched, erlich yid, beard or no beard.

  38. HaLeiVi says:

    BaalHaboose, cancel #3. ‘Ferd’ is a screen name he addressed.

  39. Ambituous says:

    Wow, I’m shocked with most of the comments here!

    Just because he shaved his beard he’s all of a sudden not Shomer Shabboss?

    Just because he shaved his beard he all of a sudden “went off the derech?”

    Just because he shaved his beard he’s all of a sudden a bad person?

    Just because he shaved his beard he’s all of a sudden NOT Jewish?

    WOW, there is CLEARLY something WRONG with the Chinuch system in the Yeshiva World today.


  40. kabbalahrabbi says:

    As far as anyone knows, he’s a frum yid until proven otherwise. He shaved. He hasn’t been mechalel shabbos or any other halacha as far as anyone knows. He’s a very decent person, those that know him very well attest, and he is certainly not a “druggie”. Those who post negative comments, however, violate a very serious transgression of lashon hara. I think he’s much more “frum” than you, then.

  41. rabbiofberlin says:

    well, that makes r’shlomo carlebach z’l a real tsaddik…he never shaved his beard off !

  42. a jew says:

    Berlin, Reb Shlomo z”l was regardless of any beard…

  43. its_me says:

    Ok people I don’t know what’s going on with him and I will not get into his cheshbon with hashem , but if matisyahu is off the derech, then shwekey and mbd don’t listen to gediolim and do mixed concerts too. One does it with goyim in a t shirt and the others with yidden and a white shirt and tie- they even preformed on the same stage so let all the musical reshaim do teshuva before 120. basically one thing I want to say is this: there are many ultra rich yidden and so many ‘parnasas’ that are really questionable. My main concern is the family. I have seen his adorable kids on youtube once. His wife was on the clip too. If he has the support of his wife in everything he does, and (somehow) his kids are growing up as torah true yidden like they seem to be in the video, I wish him all the best . And I know he will read this becasue he does care what his fellow yidden have to say about his beard, so matisyahu, give your kids a good torah education and give them a chance to do their own thing and if you feel your career is going to prevent that, find a new job.

  44. shmoolik 1 says:

    matisyahuu posted this via Twitter
    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

  45. responder88 says:

    Wow aftèr reading the first 20 or so posts I have come to the belief I am not religious enough for you all. Think about it I have no beard listen to rock music and watch television which according to some here I am not religious. Well for those who are uneducated or live with their heads in the sand you all need to get a life and wake up and smell the coffee. The man is still religious and has a right to shave. BTW anyone here know why he shaved?

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