I was in the gym, on the exercise bicycle, reading Rolling Stone when I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my bike. The article was about Matisyahu – the reggae, pop, hip-hop, beatboxing orthodox Jewish sensation who is currently blowing up the circuit. This article, like everything else written about Matisyahu, explored the lingering question that follows him everywhere he goes. That question is this: How does an orthodox Jew front a reggae, hip-hop, pop band without contradicting his orthodoxy? Anyone who knows anything about Hasidism knows it is a religion chock full of rules, many of which would make being in a hip-hop, pop reggae outfit highly complicated. For instance, according to Hasidic law, Matisyahu (born Mathew Miller) must not have contact with women to whom he is not related, which means he can’t even shake their hands when they want his autograph.
“It’s hard to [say no] to every other person who comes up to you,” he complained in the RS interview. “It can come off as disrespectful.”