The Beard That Grew in Fear of God

A day after the shave that shook the earth, Matthew “No Alias” Miller went on WNYC with John Schaefer to explain the neurotic pathology that kept his face imprisoned in its own hair for over a decade.

“Somehow the beard is like the manifestation or the symbol of God’s mercy…. I had this fear in my head that if I shaved my beard, somehow those blessings would be cut off…. I recently realized that God’s mercy, how can that possibly be connected to me shaving or not?”

If you listen closely, you can hear his inner-monologue wrestling with whether he’s leading the Jewish people astray — especially the women — by telling them that they can still be holy and loved by God without some gnarly facial fuzz.

The interview’s a far cry from his statement yesterday that he no longer feels he would “fall apart” if he didn’t have rules “to become a good person.” Yesterday he’s all “No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…. I am reclaiming myself.” Today he coyly acts surprised that people took his words to mean he was stepping back from his rigid Jewish observance. He makes it sound as if he’s going through less of a “rebirth” than a readjustment.

And that’s why I’m starting to feel suckered into a ploy to pump his Chanukah shows.

What do you think?

About The Author

Daniel Sieradski

Daniel Sieradski is a writer, web designer, new media producer and Heeb's resident Digital Strategist. He is also the founder of Occupy Judaism,, Jew It Yourself, and a billion-and-one other digital age Jewish ventures. He has been called "a major figure of the Jewish Internet world" by the Forward, which counted him among the 2010 Forward 50, and a "professional thorn in the side of the American Jewish establishment" by Haaretz.

6 Responses

  1. John Brown

    yup. suckered. first, suckered by his peyes and then suckered by him cutting them off.

  2. invisible_hand

    i don’t know, man. i think from the outset you were reading a lot into this. his look was always central to his persona, and getting rid of it was a big deal, and nowadays, in this facebook/twitter age, we deal with big deals like this through catharsis – sending it out into the world.
    his words bespoke a kind of intense spiritual struggle, but he never said he was giving up frumkayt, but rather that he was letting go of the neurosis of having to show it externally in certain specific ways.
    to suggest manipulation for the sake of publicity seems needlessly cynical.

  3. G$money

    He said he is not “Chassidish” anymore. FYI, that is just one school of thought in “Orthodox Judaism”. In the observant world, it is by no means the only one. It comes with its own set of customs. Customs are not the same thing as having no more moral laws. Saying he is not following Chassidish customs anymore is a far cry from saying he believes he can be a good person without any moral rules — This knee-jerk analysis is pure projection of what you believe about morality, and not at all what he said: “We take Miller’s words to mean that he’s done with Orthodoxy and is going to trust his own inner-spirituality. He is also no longer calling himself Matisyahu and intends to rebirth himself as a secular, albeit spiritual, musician”.

  4. YoungProudJew

    Just read the above comment, this analysis is truly “knee jerk.” Mr Sieradski, you truly are on idiot for releasing this boneheaded, ill informed commentary.


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