Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kol ha'olam kulo gesher tzar m'od

I've been thinking a lot about Matisyahu lately.
I first saw/heard Matisyahu when he appeared on a Chabad telethon several years ago.
I immediately ordered his first album and played the hell out of it.

Here was this young baal tshuvah in Lubavitch chassidic garb singing such beautiful and meaningful lyrics from chassidus.

I was playing the CD when I was catering a dinner in the local Reform temple and one of the school kids came in and told me how much she loved Matisyahu.
Baruch Hashem. This was Matisyahu's shlichus.
He was reaching secular Jewish kids with his music.

Unlike Chris Mathews on MSNBC who had a tingly feeling run up his leg when he heard Obama speak, I myself got a tingly feeling once when I was driving home from work one day and I heard "King Without a Crown" playing on a local radio station with the lyrics "we want Moshiach now" coming out of my speakers.

I understood when Matisyahu stopped identifying with Chabad and explored other paths of Torah Judaism.
Gone were the hat and jacket but long peyos appeared. All still good.
Lyrics still Jewish.

Matis became a Vegan. Ok. A little weird but I can live with that.

He starts to hang out more and more with people from the Hip Hop world of music.
Are his peyos starting to look more like dread locks?

His wife and kids are being more exposed in the media.
Oh good.
She still wears a sheitel and the boys are wearing tzitzit.

He shaves his beard and peyos.
He does and interview where he says disparaging things about Jewish thought.
He moves his home from Crown Heights to L.A.
He is sharing the stage with more mainstream artists.
Have the tzitzis disappeared?
Uh Oh.
Not good.

And now,

No kipa.
Bleached blond hair.
In the company of someone smoking a joint.

Was the Judaism just a gimmick to be noticed and get famous?
Record and ticket sales will tell us that.

I try not to judge.
When I first became frum it lasted a couple of years and than I went way "off the derech."
We all have are own struggles to go through and to fight with to find our paths within Torah Judaism.
The problem I am having with Matisyahu's is his choice to do it so publicly.

Now you might ask why I give a damn.

Besides the fact that I liked his music and his message, I'm a Jew and I care what happens to my fellow Jew.
I think about his wife and the confusion for his boys.
I think about those Jews he influenced and brought back to Yiddishkeit.

Hashem leads us in the direction we want to go.
Even if that direction is not good for us.
It is up to the individual Jew to choose the path and to hopefully use the Torah as the map.

Rebbe Nachman says,
"The entire world is a narrow bridge.
But what matters most is don't be afraid at all."

The bridge is narrow but with the Torah as our guide we won't fall off.

I believe Matisyahu will come back again.
He's just getting  close to the edge.
This is where the Pinteleh Yid comes in.
That rope that connects a Jew like a bungee cord to  Hashem that can never be untied.

Have a safe trip Matisyahu but be careful.
That bridge is very narrow.

V'haikar lo lifachayd klal.