Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's the proof?

One of my favorite quirky artists is Hasidic reggae/rap star Matisyahu. After years of following Phish in some sort of hallucinogenic fog, he discovered and embraced his Orthodox Jewish roots, adopting the practices and doctrine of hasidism. And rapping about it.

Shma Y'sroel, Hashem ELokainu, Hashem Echad
(Hear, O Isreal, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One)

His songs are like a beatbox version of the Old Testament psalms of praise and lament. "Got No Water" has become a sort of background song/anthem in my head over the past year.

The world could just crumble to dust it's just us
it's not two it's just one
The middle road call truth: Torah
Yes, you sooth my brain bruise
Open up peruse with knowledge of God
And move up an arousal from below
Till the secrets start to ooze (Don't snooze)
It's pure light
The Most High wants us alive
What's the Proof?
We got life!

The last lines--"What's the proof? We got life!"--are on a Big Scale, I think, a cry for the Jewish people. Through the centuries of persecution and dispersion, they are still here.

But it's also, on a micro-scale, a one-line battle cry for each of us. The Most High wants us each alive--the proof? We got life! What more do I need? Do I need a nice minivan, new clothes, fancy foods, a perfect body in order to be sure that God wants me to exist in Him? Negatory. Do I need Him to answer every prayer I send up literally and with acuity? Nope.

The only proof we need of His grace is this: we are. He wants Miriam to be: She is. He wants Isabella and Ana to be: They are. It's a beautiful sense of the holiness and goodness of simply being.

This is sacramental, too. We believe as Catholics that marriage is a sacrament: God gives us all the grace we need to fulfill the responsibilities that this sacrament calls for. What's the proof? We are still married. He wants us to be faithful and together: We are. And therefore, He is here with us.

If he is not, we are not.

So, rap it out, Matisyahu.

You quench my thirsting soul and you fill my appetite
I give myself to you because you treat me right
Put my trust in the world and the world gets tight
Shift my trust to you, it's like a crystal clear night
Expand in all directions, get the sections to unite
Hashem's rays, fire blaze, light my way, Light of my life


Brandon Vogt said...

I've been listening to him for years, and I've connected with him on a deep level even as a Christian. When he yearns for the messiah to come in his lyrics, I yearn with him. When he cries over the ambivalence of God's ancient bride (Jerusalem) I lament over his true one (the Church, the New Jerusalem).

The emotions that run through his tracks always draw me into the Psalms. He's a modern David.

Margaret said...

I'm a fan as well- I'd recommend the Live at Stubbs album if you haven't heard it. His introduction to Refuge on this album is so wonderful- he could very well be speaking about Christ.

Melanie B said...

Thanks, Erika, Just what I needed tonight. I loved Matisyahu the first time I heard him. But I've never really had the time, taken the time, to really listen to many of his songs. Life just gets in the way somehow.

This is like a draught of refreshing water. I'll play it for the girls tomorrow and see what they think.

Erika said...

I had no idea Matis was such a popular guy around these parts! THough I should have guessed... Melanie, Miriam and Bella's favorite song is "Chop 'Em Down" from "Shake off the Dust, Arise!" They love to shout at the top of their lungs: "CHOP 'EM DOWN! Chop CHOP 'em DOWN!"

Melanie B said...

Well I played "Got No Water" this morning and Bella started dancing. Sophie wasn't so sure. me, I've got it stuck in my head now.

I'm disappointed that the song isn't on iTunes nor does the album seem to be available anymore except used copies at exorbitant prices. Oh well.

I'll try them on "Chop 'Em Down" after lunch.

lissla lissar said...

Thanks for the video. I've been listening to it over and over for the past few days. I really like his rhythm and his psalm-like lyrics.