As Rosh Hashana approaches, Jews from around the world become introspective and start doing what is called, in Hebrew, a Cheshbon Nefesh (“accounting of the soul”). To my surprise and to the surprise of thousands of his social media followers, Seth Rogen decided to cut his hair and shave. He shared this image a few days ago on Instagram. Moreover, the selfie he took has a seriousness to it that we seldom see. It also shows his finitude and his aging. When I first saw it, I thought of a Tibetan Monk amd wondered: Is Seth Rogen becoming a JuBu (Jewish Buddhist)?
As Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag have noted in their work on photography, photography is polyvalent. This photo suggests meaning on a few registers. But the JuBi seems to be sticking out. Rogen, like Sarah Silverman, are no longer doing comedy, it seems, and have become utterly serious. Perhaps Rogen is returning to his roots? Perhaps he is paring down and embarking on a spiritual journey?
As I.B. Singer brilliantly articulates in his book, The Magician of Lublin, schlemiels are filled with the spirt of teshuva (return). Perhaps Rogen is returning. While we don’t know what that it is, it is certain that with this image he seems to be turning away from his comic iconic image projection. Jewishness, so to speak, is always on Rogen’s horizon. And in the Jewish world, now is the time and the season to turn inward.