Monday, August 24, 2015

Matisyahu's Very Public Spiritual Journey

Matisyahu performing on stage at Rototom
Sunsplash Festival in Benicassim, eastern Spain [EPA]
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that most readers here have heard of the Jewish performer, rapper reggae singer Matisyahu, who though raised in an ordinary (not Torah observant) American Jewish home found religion, became Orthodox, more specifically Chabad Chassidic, then in the full uniform  of beard, hat, coat etc became a hit reggae performer. Then he began having some spiritual doubts and shaved off the beard, took off the kippa, coat and all.

As a visibly Torah observant performer who wrote and performed Jewish themed songs, reggae style, he was in a category all his own. Nowadays it has been more difficult for him to keep up a following. But the BDS lobbyists gave Matisyahu a great gift by putting pressure on the Spanish Sunsplash Festival to ban him after he was scheduled to perform. In short, he was banned, and then after great international pressure, his invitation was reinstated, and he performed there Saturday night.

Pro-Palestinian groups during Matisyahu performance [EPA]
And he didn't sing about the weather. Facing antagonistic anti-Israel flags and signs promoting Arab Palestine sic, Matisyahu sang a song about Jerusalem, and this performance and all that led up to it will certainly be good for his career.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
fire not gonna come from me tongue.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.
In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We’ve been traveling from state to state
And them don’t understand what they say
3,000 years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don’t you see, it’s not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty
Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be
Caught up in these ways, and the worlds gone craze
Don’t you know it’s just a phase
Case of the Simon says
If I forget the truth then my words won’t penetrate
Babylon burning in the place, can’t see through the haze
Chop down all of them dirty ways,
That’s the price that you pay for selling lies to the youth
No way, not ok, oh no way, not ok, hey
Aint no one gonna break my stride
Aint no one gonna pull me down
Oh no, I got to keep on moving
Stay alive (PJ Media
We all know the well known saying:
"I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right."  George M Cohan quotes
Matisyahu stood up to this challenge, and now that he's targeted, in the sights of the BDS no doubt they won't let up against him.

I don't know if that was the song that Matisyahu had previously planned on performing there, but it really was the perfect response to the antisemitic and anti-Israel campaign against him. Whether he likes it or not, with or without the beard and tzitziyot, he's still a symbol of Judaism and Israel for many. And I have no doubt that his spiritual journey is far from over.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Dear Batya for posting this.
I love Matisyahu,
May Hashem bless and protect him.

Especially this song, "Jerusalem", When my grandson Aron was 6 and a half years old, he loved this song and i bought the CD. He would dance and mouth the words. Cherished memories.
Yerushalem forever!

Am Israel Chai!!
Love you all.

Shiloh said...

His music style is not for me, but I have such respect for him and his journey. God uses whomever He pleases and how Matisyahu stood up should make us all proud.

Batya said...

sc, I always find it interesting which songs young children grow attached to.
Shiloh, I don't see it as "God uses" but as people using Gd to grow.

goyisherebbe said...

IY"H Matisyahu is not finished with Hashem and Hashem is not finished with Matisyahu. The pendulum of life swings and it will swing back. He was juggling teshuva and music together and it was clearly too heavy a load for him at the time. He also felt too typecast or branded. I sympathize with his problem. What he has just done has given him some great spiritual zchut, merit. I hope and pray he will work it out at his own pace.

Batya said...

goyish, amen