Culture, Religion

Matis the Mischichist

A leaked track dumped from Matisyahu’s debut, Shake Off The Dust, reveals a cry of yechi adoneinu moreinu v’rabbeinu melech hamoshiach l’olam vo’ed: “Long live our master, teacher and rebbe, King Messiah, forever and ever.”
Will it hurt the new “face” of Judaism? Steven I. Weiss investigates:

Music industry observers I’ve contacted have thus far tended to think that Matisyahu’s being a messianist would not affect his status in the broader music world.
Rolling Stone’s Evan Serpick said in a phone interview that “I don’t think there’s any impact of that…he’s very open on his records and his shows” about promoting the idea of messiah generally. But what about the difference between supporting a messianic idea generally, and the specific notion of supporting the idea that a rabbi who died 11 years ago is still alive and will reveal himself as the messiah? “It doesn’t seem a very far stretch” to the average listener from Lubavitch generally, and “I think in most people’s minds, that doesn’t seem much more of a fringe…I don’t think most people are gonna get into the intricacies.”

It just goes to show he has more in common with Rastafarians than you might think. “Jah no dead, Jah no dead!” The late Emperor Haile Selassie is the Rastafarians’ moshiach, and only the Ethiopians (who lived through his corrupt regime) give ’em gruff for it. So too, Menachmen Mendel Schneerson may be Matisyahu’s Jah Rastafari. Watch as am yisrael turns Ethiopian, with Steven I. at the head of the line.
Frankly, anyone who believes the rebbe is moshiach deserves to be given gruff. That’s why I legitimate Ethiopians giving Rastafarians hell.
Steven I. responds, via IM, “Schneerson never persecuted anybody.” Tell that to the Ethiopians. Man, they just suffer one false messiah after another…

20 thoughts on “Matis the Mischichist

  1. but come on, most every body sings “dovid melech yisrael chai v kayam.”
    And to the degree that King David is a Messiah…
    What does it mean for a human king to be called immortal?

  2. Of course.
    Back before he was popular, Matisyahu had pictures up on his website of himself wearing a yehhi adoneinu moreinu verabeinu melekh hamoshiach le‘olam va‘ed yarmulka.
    As soon as he hit it big, the incriminating photos were replaced.

  3. Ya, but that’s just it. if he was gung ho serious about yechi, he wouldnt have cared if people knew about it. He can’t be too serious if he is “hiding” it. You obviously havent had too many one on one talks with real mishichists. they don’t “Hide” anything.

  4. How about you actually ask Matis how he feels? The only I remember hearing him speak about his views on the Rebbe being Moshiach, he said he doesn’t know exactly where he stands yet. And his view are subject to change, and what Chaim said is certainly true… if he was a real mischichist, he would have no reservations about admitting it.
    So I see this little linke that says “Jewish Bloggers For Responsible Speech Online” right below what I’m typing right now… wouldn’t it be responsible to ask Matis than to straight up assume that he’s a mishichist and start speculating about how the music world would feel about it?

  5. I’m not personally real comfortable with Matisyahu’s messianist leanings on the song, although it’s definitely not enough to keep me from listening to it or whatever. I just feel like the Lubavitch mischichist stuff is way too reminiscent of the Jewish/Christian thing during the Second Temple era. The messiah hasn’t come, PERIOD, and I think it’s seriously forcing G*d’s hand to claim that Schneerson is the messiah. Or anyone, for that matter! All I can say is, I hope other Jews — the majority, actually — DON’T get intimidated by the messianists, or let themselves casually agree that believing the rebbe to be moshiach is totally fine. I’m worried that someday this issue will be a much bigger deal than it currently is, although I sincerely hope we can agree to disagree… doesn’t happen much in history, I know, but I’m keepin’ hope alive. 😛

  6. Also, to the first commentator: I think it’s one thing to say “dovid… chai v’kayam” and another thing to say “yechi moreinu v’rabbeiun… hamoshiach.” The messiah thing is what takes it toooooo far.

  7. I don’t care…I am going to see Matis with three generations of my family. From children of Holocaust survivors to Chabad lurkers to reform to conservative Jews..all in the same group.
    I like his music, I like his message.
    I do not think Rebbe is the messiah…I don’t think that is up to me to know.
    I don’t care what Matis wears, kippah wise, jogging suit/dress blacks…I like his music.
    His music is more spiritual to me than singing the German Berr drinking tune t o Adone Olam, or the Debbie Friedman tunes of this or that at shul.
    Music about Hashem moves me to tears when I feel it. …rarely do I feel it in shul these days, like I do when I listen to Matis.

  8. Elaine,
    You were doing fine until you said,
    “I do not think Rebbe is the messiah…I don’t think that is up to me to know.”
    Wrong, Elaine. We know. And so should you. He was not, and is not the Messiah. This is probably one of the easiest things in all of Judaism to truly know.

  9. Mob, sorry I hadn’t read the canonist post when I posted that, or listened to the track. But I just did both. So I also grew up secular and ended up in a Chabad yeshiva last year (which was the best decision of my life, and actually Matis stopped by for a few days during the omer), and I know that in that environment, sometimes it’s easy to love the Rebbe so much that you want to believe he’s Moshiach. But I wouldn’t call Matis a mashichist. I’ve heard real mashichistim tell people it’s a chilul Hashem to not believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach.
    The track was kind of shocking, but things could have changed since then. I’ve spent four Shabboses with Matis, and the only thing I remember hearing him say about the Rebbe being Moshiach is that he’s not sure how he feels.
    One sure way to find out is to hit up 770 Friday night when Matis is in town and see if he joins in the “yachi” chanting after l’cha dodi, or whether he’s chilling with me.

  10. David melech chai v kayam isn’t a messianic statement? maybe we should clarify terms… what does it mean to say that someone is the messiah?
    That they brought you god, and will never be forgotten? that they fixed your world?

  11. If anyone is truly concerned, let me set your minds at ease. The people buying the album and launching it to the Billboard Top 10 don’t care if Matisyahu believes the Lubavitch Rebbe is the Messiah. Like really. This is a phenomena and concern local only to certain Jews.
    And by the way, Kelsey, tsk tsk for your response Elaine’s post. She writes “I do not think Rebbe is messiah…” and you write “We know. And so should you.” Since when do you join the fanatical side of shoving observance and knowledge down people’s throats? It should be enough for you that she doesn’t think the Rebbe is Messiah.
    Since when did HEEB writers become such crusaders for halachic truth?

  12. growing up at shul we were always told, ” when every woman lights Shabbos candles, the Messiah will come”. Well, so I felt bad every Shabbos, knowing it was all my fault since my mom was not observant. Anytime I hear about the Messiah coming I revert back to feeling bad,……that in some way it was my fault as a little kid.
    I am pretty satisfied with my relationship with Hashem, I am happy with my life’s blessings…if G-d decides to send a messiah, so be it.

  13. First of all, Matisyahu’s new album is hot. I think that some say that he is a one-hit wonder with “King Without a Crown.” They’re wrong.
    Anyways, it almost sounds like you’re turning on Matis. I mean, Mobius, you are the webmaster for his website. And while Matis might not really mind this discussion of his beliefs, you’re almost turning on him and selling him out by taking this discussion behind his back. First of all, I hate the whole crap about Rabbi Schneerson being called moshiach as much as the next guy. But it’s out of line to say that having that belief is like revering a corrupt, oppressive dictator. The Lubavitcher Rebbe gained his reputation for a reason. He did many good things. So he fucked up with Ethiopians. Plus, that website you link is just one opinion, though this is not to say that it’s claims are completely unfounded.
    As webmaster for Matisyahu, you should give him a chance to defend his own position before you go ahead and criticize his beliefs as a way to continue your tradition of progressive Judaism. Remember that Judaism also entails certain moral guidelines, and I think that shemirat halashon, which is displayed so prominently at the bottom of this window, is one of them.

  14. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe gained his reputation for a reason. He did many good things. So he fucked up with Ethiopians. Plus, that website you link is just one opinion, though this is not to say that it’s claims are completely unfounded.” Well said, Matt.
    Yeah, but seriously, as far as the general public caring if Matis was a mashichist? They would for sure not care. Look at all the crazy celebrities who the masses adore: Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Madonna… who in Hollywood is sane anyway? Matis is probably the most sane and genuine out of all them!

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