Photo: Or Barnea
Matisyahu on stage
Photo: Or Barnea

Aussie Jews to miss out on Matisyahu

The Chassidic star is scheduled to perform during the Three Weeks, the period between Tammuz 17 and Tisha b'Av when attending concerts is forbidden

He's been billed as the world's first ultra-Orthodox reggae star, but there will be no religious faces in the crowd when Matisyahu tours Australia for the first time next month.


The 27-year-old Chassidic Jew from New York is scheduled to play shows during the Three Weeks, the period between Tammuz 17 and Tisha b'Av when attending concerts is expressly forbidden.


However, halachic opinions vary on making music during this time, especially if it is a means of earning an income.


Sydney's Rabbi Moshe Gutnick said that while performers could obtain permission to work during this period, Jews could not attend the concert for the purpose of enjoyment.


"There are some authorities that permit it if the music is for the sake of a mitzvah such as bringing people closer to Judaism. This is a minority viewpoint, which most people would not accept. In this context it is not acceptable for Jews to attend," he said.


However, Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz from Chabad House Malvern in Melbourne said that the issue was not clear-cut, saying Matisyahu's own rabbi "must be the authority" on whether the singer could perform.


Shows to take place as planned


Matisyahu, however, is continuing with shows as planned, performing at the Splendour in the Grass music festival in Byron Bay on July 23, the Gaelic Club in Sydney on July 24 and the Prince of Wales in Melbourne on July 25.


He is also playing a show in New Zealand during the nine days between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha b'Av, which are considered days of symbolic mourning.


However, Rabbi Gutnick said that the halachic opinion that permits a professional musician to play during the three weeks would include the nine days.


Orthodox fans upset


While Matisyahu confirmed in an interview last month that most of his fans were non-Jews, his Australian tour dates have upset Orthodox fans.


Sydney Yeshiva student Ziv Tamir said it was a "shame as a lot more Jewish people would have been able to go if the concert was not during this time."


Born Matthew Miller in Pennsylvania, Matisyahu grew up in a Liberal Jewish household before "intuition" set him off on a path to Orthodoxy in 2001. His music has been described as a mixture of reggae and rock, with influences including Bob Marley, rock band Phish and Chassidic folk singer Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.


Reprinted with permission of the Australian Jewish News


פרסום ראשון: 06.29.06, 12:05
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