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Dec
28

Matisyahu Reexamines his Faith

World-famous Reggae / Hip Hop artist, Matisyahu, shocked his fans recently by posting a picture of a freshly shaved version of himself on Twitter. Most people don’t make news when they shave, but this iconic pop star has become known for his close ties to Hasidic Judaism, and his traditional, almost Orthodox garb. His explanation on his website said: “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.“ He told Rolling Stone magazine: “The group I was heavily into said you can’t cut (your beard) even if you want to. Besides, it’s a representation of God’s mercy. If you cut that off, you’re like, cutting of God’s mercy. So I bought into that, for a long time…Then I realized that some of my ideas, at least for me at this at this point, were not true anymore. I think it’s a symbol, and symbols aren’t the thing itself. If I’m connecting with God internally, if I believe in my own goodness and God’s goodness, than that idea (not cutting his beard) just didn’t resonate with me anymore.” In an interview with WNYC Radio, he said: “What happened was that I recently realized that God’s mercy can’t possibly be connected to me shaving or not shaving. Over the last few weeks I went through a pretty major transformation, probably bigger than any in my life, due to several things, but a lot of revelations and a lot of realizations starting coming clear to me. The idea that God’s mercy is connected to whether or not I shave, is ludicrous. I need to just trust myself. If I’m deserving of God’s mercy, I’ll get it.” From my point-of-view, I’m glad to hear that Matisyahu is wrestling and grappling with his faith. I think it is important for all of us to continue to grow, to reexamine, and to struggle. A faith that can’t...

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© Israel Wayne.