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Matisyahu Interview explains it all

I’m not really surprised that the frummies are freaking the F out, but the hating on baalei teshuva in general is pretty extreme and is kind of bothering me. This interview of Matisyahu should be shared around so people stop talking shit and let the man deal with finding himself – like we all have to do multiple times during our lives.

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Chani December 14, 2011, 5:19 PM

    fascinating guy and is truly the real deal. In the full interview, he talks about contradictions. http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2011/dec/14/matisyahus-miracle/

    what he said is so true and the exact reason so many freaked out. Many frum jews have a hard time seeing and accepting contradictions. Instead, they can only see things in black and white.

    • Lex Luthor December 14, 2011, 6:42 PM

      Typical. The enlightened rest of the world is so reasonable, right? No judging anyone, and lots of shades of gray. Except for those crazy Hareidim, yeah that’s nuts, black and white.

      • Chani December 14, 2011, 6:59 PM

        Lex, typical? i dont even really understand your post.
        I never mentioned hareidem. Just talking about people who see things in very black and white ways. the world just doesnt work that way. and theres no denying that a lot of the frum world – and many religions in general think this way.

        • Lex Luthor December 14, 2011, 7:03 PM

          In that case, Chani, you are right. Just thought you were singling out the frum there.

      • Samael December 14, 2011, 7:11 PM

        Lex – I don’t think anyone is accusing Haredim alone of having a black-and-white mentality. In fact I’m sure most of the “rest of the world” also thinks that way, just with different principles. Spotting ambiguity where it exists isn’t easy, neither for the religious nor for the secular.

  • Dan December 14, 2011, 6:09 PM

    You know. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.

    He doesn’t deserve to have his personal religious decisions speculated and debated all over the internet. I’ll let him be.

    • Dena December 14, 2011, 7:59 PM

      I agree 100%!!

    • U Avi December 14, 2011, 8:11 PM

      Said perfectly Dan!.

    • Tirtza December 14, 2011, 8:19 PM

      Best sentiment on the subject so far.
      It was pretty horrifying all the emails I received with tons of friends and family all discussing and judging how religious they think he is.

      • thinking outloud December 18, 2011, 3:55 AM

        EXCEPT, Matisyahu was the one who STARTED the conversation.
        And, I’m sure he is reaping the rewards of all this speculation.
        The haters will always hate, the lovers will always support and those in the middle might now be curious enough to dabble and perhaps buy.
        Its a great PR move for him and he’s getting all this free press – he may not have expected the avalanche, but he can’t complain that we are all speculation
        also the public cryptic comments and instragramesque pics were just begging to be followed with speculation….

        just sayin…

  • Anonymous December 14, 2011, 6:44 PM

    Despite the whole frum world freaking out, I think Matisyahu is far closer to G-d than most of us, beard or not.

    • Telz Angel December 14, 2011, 7:20 PM

      Well, he certainly was when he had the beard, but without one, he is much further away.

      You see, God really likes beards. Hates mustaches though. Why do you think woman have it so poorly in our religion? It’s the lack of beard. Women with facial hair (like Nechama Leibovitch), however are much closer to God.

      • Bruce Godfrey December 14, 2011, 8:08 PM

        What about hair on your back? Inquiring apes like me want to know…

      • talking stam December 16, 2011, 2:27 PM

        genius comment. i cannot even try to compete…

  • Kneidel Maidel December 15, 2011, 1:52 AM

    I remember people going apeshit when I decided to leave the Yeshivish/Bais Ya’akov enclave 15 years ago. I grew sick and tired of the over-obsession shidduchim/tznuis religious double standard hypocrisy that world was promoting while ignoring more disturbing issues that should have been immediately addressed.There were too many fakers who wore Judaism on their clothing but not in their hearts. I knew consequences would ensue (and there were) but I felt I was making the right decision for myself and I am not looking back. People need to understand that there are different strokes for different folks.Everyone should be able to chose how they want to live and make decisions that fit best for them without consulting their communities. Not everyone is cut out to live in an homogenous enclosed environment and its not up to condemn those who want to choose a different path in life. A beard shouldn’t define a person nor should he be religiously evaluated over it. There are plenty of those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk and I can pick out a phoney from 1o miles away. People need to grow up and deposit a reality check.Sometimes we make dramatic lifestyle changes because we need to.

  • anon December 15, 2011, 5:33 AM

    The whole frum world wasn’t freaking out. Most frummies would say that he wasn’t really frum to begin with. If anyone was freaking out it was chabad and the media

  • Hannah December 15, 2011, 5:55 AM

    Meh. May this be the worst thing that ever happens again to the Jewish community.

    Now… on to child molestation.

  • Catholic Mom December 15, 2011, 6:06 AM

    “I realized that if I’m deserving of God’s mercy, I’ll get it whether or not I’m wearing a beard.”

    No. You won’t get it because you deserve it — you’ll get it because you don’t deserve it. That’s what mercy means. You don’t have to do anything to “earn” God’s mercy. It’s a free gift. That’s the truly amazing revelation that he is inching near to seeing.

    • Guest December 15, 2011, 7:12 AM

      There’s “wailing and gnashing of teeth” too in the New Testament.

    • Samael December 15, 2011, 9:24 PM

      Sounds like you’re talking about Divine Grace? I think Judaism actually went out of its way to avoid that notion – for example, the midrash makes the Patriarchs in Genesis out to be these super-righteous people before God ever called upon them, suggesting that they’re receiving God’s mercy because they deserve it. Of course, the ad litteram interpretation of Genesis suggests neither – God has mercy on someone not out of grace nor because of their righteousness, but because of their inherent potential. I guess for a counterargument you could look at the second half of Isaiah, where God really does seem to have mercy on the people of Judah just out of love.

  • Catholic Mom December 15, 2011, 10:49 AM

    This is an inappropriate forum to review Christian theology — but the “wailing and gnashing of teeth” refers to the wicked who have not repented at the end of the world. More particularly the “wicked” who thought they have bought their way into heaven by legalistically adhering to a set of rules while being far from God in their hearts. Then they find out that there is no “quid pro quo” with God where “I did xyz, now you owe me admission to heaven .”

    All that is required is that you “do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God” to the best of your understanding and ability. [Note that your understanding of walking humbly with God doesn’t have to be the same as my understanding but it certainly precludes spiritual arrogance of any kind.] And since, being human, your understanding and ability isn’t all that much, to acknowledge that you need God’s help and forgiveness to make up for your own failures.

    • Person December 16, 2011, 8:01 AM

      I’m just curious about how a catholic mother got to reading about blog about Orthodox/Modern Orthodox Jews…

      ps. Not that I actually care, but you were probably right with your first remark “This is an inappropriate forum to review Christian theology” 🙂

      • Catholic Mom December 16, 2011, 8:27 AM

        Because I’m married to a (non-religious) Israeli and because this is a funny blog. Notice I’m not commenting on the “Union of Orthodox Rabbis Serious Theological/Halachic Discussion Blog.”

        That’s what great about the internet, no?

        • Guest December 16, 2011, 9:59 AM

          Catholic Mom,
          The burden of proof will always remain on Christianity to justify its departure from Judaism. Theological rhetoric does not constitute proof of any sort of a “New Covenant.”
          Non-Jews are responsible for observance of the Noahide commandments, as well cultivating good character traits in general. They have no obligation to convert, even if the greater degree of observance carries with it greater reward. God is merciful, and loving, but He has some standards for us all. Only a person who lacks moral culpability, on account of their youth, or having taken leave of their senses, remain completely exempt.

        • anon December 16, 2011, 10:16 AM

          And now because of you your kids aren’t/wont be Jewish.

          • Dan December 16, 2011, 12:08 PM

            That’s stupid. Her kids wouldn’t be Jewish no matter who she married. What are you talking about?

            (I know, you mean her husband’s kids won’t be Jewish. Why would she care if her husband has Jewish kids?)

            • anon December 17, 2011, 3:07 PM

              The point wasnt wether she cared or not. Its partially her husbands fault, but if someone is talking about her intermarriage it should be discouraged especially if its on a website called frumsatire

              • Crowin' Cock December 17, 2011, 7:26 PM


                Definitely not her fault, I put 100% of the blame on her Jewish husband that couldn’t care less about his religion.

                This site attracts all sorts of Jews, frum and not frum, and strangely enough, many non Jews as well. Personally, I find it a bit strange, I can’t picture myself visiting a muslim satire (I doubt they exist, author would probably be beheaded) or catholic satire type of site.

                • hardyhar December 19, 2011, 2:06 PM

                  that’s cos there’s nothing quite so funny as jews talking about jewish stuff – half the things on this website are so surreal, it’s almost impossible to believe that you guys take it seriously!

  • Anonymous December 16, 2011, 7:02 AM

    I can’t resist…

    What do the Christians say? That even when you don’t do the best job you were capable of completing the mission God set for you it doesn’t matter because God loves you. There are no consequences if you just accept his Love. The truth is there’s a strain of that in Judaism too, that’s Chessed.

    However, our action MATTER. That is the idea of justice / Din. Chessed is “Here, have a free lunch.” Din is “There is no such thing as a free lunch, you get what you earn.” Seems harsh on the surface, and you have to ask, why bother with physical life at all? Why not just create Man, and blast us with permanent, ultimate joy and bliss constantly? The answer is, because we wouldn’t have earned it, and an unearned gift is a lot less pleasurable than one you’ve worked for. God wants the best for us and does the best for us at all times, therefore, we’re given the opportunity to earn his kindness.

    Jews understand that the “legalistic rules” Christians dismiss are God telling us how to go about earning our reward by becoming participants in the purposefully left-unfinished process of Creation. We’re like kids whose parents gave us the responsibility of making dessert for the family’s dinner. If we do it right, WE have made dessert. If we burn it, then we burned dessert. It would not be a kindness for Mom or Dad to come up behind us and make dessert themselves “just in case” we failed. That would take away our entire sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. We get to start making dessert a year before dinner, and an innumerable number of chances to make it, and in the end God arranges thing so they will work out, but we are given responsibilities that we have the power to succeed or fail at. That doesn’t just go away and it would be a cruelty to take it away as Christianity does.

    Matisyahu is a man who has been given the power to do great Kiddush Hashem (e.g., make God look good) or great Chillul Hashem (make God look bad). His personal struggles, words and decisions have a much greater impact on others than most people’s. We shouldn’t judge him, as it’s not our place to judge anyone, but his decisions are also not simply private. If he does a good job, he will positively effect many others, and if he fails, he will likely effect many others negatively. It’s not simply about him.

    • Person December 16, 2011, 8:08 AM

      My interest in Christian philosophy is quantifiable at this point to zero. However you bring up a good point in your last paragraph.

      “We shouldn’t judge him, as it’s not our place to judge anyone, but his decisions are also not simply private. If he does a good job, he will positively effect many others, and if he fails, he will likely effect many others negatively. It’s not simply about him.”

      This is spot on.

    • Crowin' Cock December 16, 2011, 10:40 AM

      I don’t see why shaving his beard should be any worse than any of the others things he may do or advocate during his performances, at least from a halachic standpoint.

      Not trying to be judgemental, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes as far as the tremendous test he must face on a regular basis.

      So big friggin deal. No he’s rapping and crowd surfing without a beard. I doubt much of his fans care either way. However, he may (or may not) have damaged his image by doing so.

  • Critic December 17, 2011, 10:47 PM

    I googled him a couple years ago, heard some songs and saw an interview on a late night TV show. I saw a BT fellow gifted with less than average intelligence and depth. Add the inherent ‘angst’ profile common among performers, and the lifestyle and its temptations, and its a noxious and volotile cocktail of existance. I just now saw his graying beard picture, and given his profile, why wouldn’t he shave it off? I sometimes look at my fast graying beard, and undertand that I am aging, and that means I’m gonna die sooner than I thought, and I have gotten an immature/yetzer hara impulse/voice that spoke to me saying “if you shaved it off, you would look ten years younger, and therefore you could postpone death, and pull a coup on destiny”. That is such a low thought process/impluse, and he may have had that and gave in to it, or some other impluse/rationale combo. Very human. And for a BT, very natural.

  • Ed December 18, 2011, 1:52 AM

    I see it as black and white, I am only hoping tha M.Y. is not an “en pessant” for something other than Hashem…

  • thinking outloud December 18, 2011, 3:58 AM

    the best thing about this whole affair has been the constant mentioning of the great chassidic tale with the “Beard where is your Jew” line … so priceless and more relevant than ever

    • thinking outloud December 18, 2011, 4:00 AM

      In fact, H. I would suggest that in honor of Matisyahu you temporarily re title your blog – “Beard where is your Jew” (so fitting for all the stuff you post and a great opportunity to replace your current sketch on top) If not now then perhaps next movember?

  • FreeHugs December 18, 2011, 9:10 PM

    If matis was wrong then so am I .  I believe that all people are trying to be the best them they can. Everyones looking for truth and meaning / purpose. Sometimes people don’t know that they are searching. But they undeniably are.

    Just like a secular jew is considered a  tinok shenishbat , meaning that they are not held responsible for that which they don’t know .If  they never find out then that shows that their purpose can be accomplished without the knoledge. Even fully religious people are still indeniably searching and they too aren’t held responsible for that knoledge on which they have zero exposure .

    So kabbalah , for the vast majority of people therefore does not apply following this logic. Since the typically average person doesn’t have the capability of possibly understanding ,comprehending , or knowing in any way the kabbalah it DOESN’t APPLY. We are all tinokei benishpat in this way . 

    His refusal to accept metaphysical reality manifestated into a tangible reality is because he’s realized that it can’t possibly apply.  

    Point 2 : the beard as a representation of jewish culture.
    There is orthodoxy and then there is orthodox culture. There is judaism , and there are the jews. In a perfect world, the Jews would be perfectly aligned with Judaism . This is not a perfect world .

    However that does not mean Judaism is not beautiful and perfect. It means that the Jews tend to screw things up a bit. There are so many things that are in no way part of Judaisn but have become thought of as such.
    And there are a lot of holy neshamot , a lot of wonderful people searching and meandering trying to find that beautiful Judaism But they get stuck on hypocrasy and lies and *contradictions* . And then , being the amazing people they are , they want to distance themselves from the lies as much as possible . The problem occurs when , as this holy neshama  is running away from Jews ….its running away from Judaism as well. Because sadly the two are intertwixt . 

    So I say , screw the jewish culture as a religion and lets go back to having judaism as a religion! 

    Why should we labelize and compartmentalize evrything? Why do we ask what affiliation one is? How bout I’m affiliated with god . Im a soul just like you . Then the differences will melt away . The externals mean nothing as they are so easibly interchangeable . If I wear goth one day and prep the nxt and 60s the following what am I ? I am me and not my outside. And darling holy matis is the special person that he is . His and mine and everyones essence remains the wonderfuk same way :) 


  • suspicious December 19, 2011, 9:20 AM

    PR stunt, a relaunch for a flagging career

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