The reports, have been a bit devastating. First came the beard. Now, it seems, your appearances are sans Yarmulkah.
We were, for a while, so proud of you. Here was a powerful entertainer, filled with talent, and unabashed in his Judaism. Unabashed, as well, in his Hasidic deportment. And filled with a spiritual energy of which the secular world took note.
The beard. The peyos and black Yarmulkah. The tzitzis out and flying as you danced to the tunes that underscored Jewish spirituality.
True, reggae music is not to everyone’s tastes, but the gentile world was now exposed to a thinking – a philosophy not heard from before. You had exposed a small, yet discernible, ray of the light of Chassidus to a different world. True, it was a world that had gone mad, but nonetheless, the notion of spreading Hasidic light was, in a sense, coming alive in you.
Your religious fans loved you. Those with a similar physical appearance to you, finally, had recognition. No longer did they receive bizarre looks in the street from those never exposed to such dress. They had a Matisyahu out there. Ambassador to the world.
But then, something happened. Something may have changed within you. You went native.
At first your religious fans were in denial. It was just the beard. But now the Yarmulkah too has gone.
Perhaps it can be said that you are emblematic of the Jewish nation. Once, so lofty and spiritually mighty – and now, perhaps a temporary fall.
We search for clues in your words. Hoping. Praying. Don’t turn your back and what you have done. We hope that, like the moon, with which the nation of Israel is compared to, you will perhaps rise to your spiritual glory, again.
You mentioned once that we have not seen the last of your facial hair. Yes, you may argue that these are symbols.
But symbols do matter. And Yarmulkas too – do matter.
They indicate that no matter how successful we may have become, there is still a King above us that controls it all. They indicate that we are genuinely proud of who we are and our role here in this world.
Matisyahu. Matisyahu. Your Rabbinic advisors were perhaps imbued with a prescient knowledge. They told you to keep the name Matisyahu, even though the name given at your bris was Feivish Hershel. Matisyahu the father of the Maccabees led the cry of “Mi Lashem Ailai – whomsoever is for Hashem, the G-d of Israel, come to me..” Perhaps, they felt, the name would help you meet the challenges of stardom.
Matisyahu. Come back. Plain and simple. We need you. Every Jew is likened to a limb, or an organ, on the body of collective Israel. What would life be like without an arm, an ear, or a leg?
What would the world be like without that orthodox Chasidic entertainer who once took the world by a storm?
It is time, once again to hear your sweet voice packaged again in the uniform of all that we hold dear. The Yarmulkah, the beard, the payos and the Tzitzis a’flyin.
There is a famous Rabbinic authority that seemed to have dissented from the traditional view regarding King David. The Talmud tells us that anyone who claims that David sinned is only from those who make an error.
Writes the Rabbinic commentator, “And I am from those who make an error. Why? Because if those that will fall in the future do not know that one can still pick themselves up and author a work like the Book of Psalms we are lost.”
Matisyahu, the future path lies before you. Come back to your roots. Your birthright. And write the songs that make the world whole. Bring back the Yarmulkah. The payos. The beard and those wonderful reminders of the 613 commandments – the Tzitiz a flyin’.
May Hashem help you make the right decision.
Rabbi Yair Hoffman