Michael Barata (MB): Currently, who or what is inspiring you?
Matisyahu: I’m reading books written by Michael Eigen, who is a psychologist and psychoanalyst. One of his books, which I have not read yet but look forward to reading is Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis. I’m currently reading a book written by Arthur Green entitled, Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav.
MB: What makes you vulnerable?
Matisyahu: I’m vulnerable reading people’s comments on Facebook. Today, I wanted to spend some time reading and responding to comments of fans on my Facebook page. Yes, there are great comments, but there are also a lot of people who are very opinionated and judgmental. So, initially, when I read these judgmental comments, I don’t feel vulnerable, but rather I get defensive. But once I get past that anger, it sort of becomes hurt. It becomes pain.
MB: How do you handle pain?
Matisyahu: It’s interesting because this book I’m reading, Tormented Master, has been helping me. In it, Rabbi Nahman, actually believed that controversy is important. He explains how conflict and controversy are good things. They are positive things. His whole religious ideology is based around the concept of conflict. There is an idea in Kabbalah that the creation of the world is created through space. God is an ever present Being, and in order for anything outside of Him to exist, like this world for example, there needs to be what’s called a TumTum[a], or a withdrawal of Godly-like. And that withdrawal happens not by connection but actually by separation. Conflict. And in the gap of that conflict is where the world is situated. That’s where the world is created and lived. It’s been comforting for me reading his story and his ideas about conflict. It’s interesting you ask that question because vulnerability is a wonderful thing. We’re all so afraid to be vulnerable in this world. When you meet somebody who is vulnerable, there is an attraction. There is something to that. There is beauty there.
MB: Is the song, “I Believe in Love,” off your latest album, Spark Seeker, about discovery or affirmation?
Matisyahu: I’m not sure if I thought about it that way. You can look at it as, a lot of people believe a lot of things. People also believe in a lot of ideas or hold tight to a lot of ideologies and beliefs. The meaning behind the song can be, love is a good thing.
MB: What is something about your art you feel is misunderstood?
Matisyahu: There are a lot of people who get me. There are a lot of people who don’t. I wouldn’t say there is one thing that everyone is missing. But there are a good amount[b] of people who don’t necessarily understand the recent changes I have made. For example, a lot of people in the religious world believe that by secularizing, or viewing the changes as secular, such as dropping the beard and changing my appearance, they consider this to be a fall. The belief then is one day Matis will come back, and he’ll lift himself back up. See, there is an assumption if you are not religious, you have fallen, or you are further from God, or you are not doing the right thing. The judgment on me, with regard to my changes, is that he must be out all night partying or banging prostitutes and doing blow. This whole thing for me was absolutely the contrary. It was actually that God started to become very real to me, inside. And once my spirituality started to really blossom, which has only really happened in the last six months, real feelings started to come in. That’s also when I realized I didn’t need those external things as much anymore. Not to say there is anything wrong with any of it, as I’m still into it, nor will I put anyone else down for doing it. What blows me away most is how sure people are of themselves. I don’t understand that whole concept. For me, I guess at times, I’ve been like that. But for me now, what I’ve come to is, we don’t know anything. We know nothing. And just because you know something to be true at this moment in your life or you feel that it is true, you can never be sure of yourself. The beauty of life is not knowing. People get so caught up in needing to know and having to prove themselves to be right, and I’m blown away by this. It’s unbelievable to me how sure people can be of themselves.
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