Since The Algemeiner Journal published my article about Chasidic reggae singer Matisyahu entitled, “Matisayhu: Rabbi or Rebel” the article has appeared on a number of Internet blogs. First it appeared on a well known virulently anti- website where the author tried to use my article to compare to Sabbatianism and its successor Frankism both of which preached the idea of sinning in order to gain redemption.
Sabbatianism believed that the Messiah (Sabbatai Sevi – who turned out to be a fraud) alone was allowed to sin for this purpose. Frankism (Jacob Frank) taught that all people had to do this. Indeed these movements where far from mainstream Judaism and actually caused it tremendous harm.
The fact is that the deconstruction of boundaries is a Kabbalistic idea which was abused by the above mentioned movements. uses these mystical ideas as well but maintains that one may not ever break Jewish law in the name of deconstruction. In my article I make it clear that if Matisyahu is in any way breaking Jewish law through his performances his act is a desecration of God’s name and as such counter productive.
I am not a Halachic Posek (decider of Jewish law) and therefore am not in the position to conclude whether Matisyahu’s act does or does not break Halacha.
Often the line between extreme good and evil is a very thin one and Matisyahu is walking it – I pray that he does not lose his balance.
The second blog I noticed my article appeared on was Rabbi Jason Miller’s blog. Rabbi Miller is the Associate Director of the University of Michigan Hillel Foundation. On his blog he used my article to explain the, possible, justification for the alleged mixed dancing – which is forbidden according to Halacha – at the House on his university campus.
The third blog was a /Crown Heights blog, where readers left comments on the article — some agreeing and others disagreeing. However the theme of those who disagreed was that because Matisyahu allegedly breaches Jewish law at his performances his act is to be frowned upon.
The point cannot be stressed enough: according to Kabbalah the Jewish connection to God is through carrying out Mitzvoth in accordance with Halacha. Acting in a way contrary to Halacha is an affront to God and in no way does it elevate the profane at all. Thinking or maintaining otherwise is a distortion of Judaism and its values.
The only way the profane and a sin can be elevated is through Teshuva (full repentance). However, the Kabbalists (see Tanya and other places) made it clear that one who sins in order to then repent and elevate the sin will never be given the chance to repent to the degree that their sin will be elevated.
In short deconstructive Judaism is only authentic if some boundaries remain in place, namely the boundary of Halacha – the second this is breached, one is no longer practicing authentic Judaism.