The clean-shaven singer in a loose white t-shirt barely resembles a 2006 snapshot of a bearded Hasid dancing merrily in a suit and shtramel. And indeed, Matisyahu today bears little likeness to his longtime “Chassidic reggae superstar” persona. While his transformation sparked much speculation in the blogosphere — Matisyahu dropped the bomb by posting a beardless photo of himself on Twitter last December — the choice was carefully conceived, as the performer tells the Times of Israel this week.
“There are so many rules in Judaism, and if you get into them and you get obsessed and you have the kind of life that I have, it can make you a very unhappy person,” Matisyahu told the Times in a backstage interview before a Stamford, Conn., concert last week. “It can make everything complicated and more stressful than it needs to be, so I kind of loosened the knots a little bit.”