There have been several outstanding books in the last few years that, while by Orthodox Jews, were written for the public at large. I’ve mentioned some of them in previous posts: My Before and After Life and Seven Blessings, for example.
Matisyahu (Miller), while he’s received a lot of flak by some members of the Jewish community, has likewise brought the beauty of the Jewish worldview to a broader audience through his music.
First of all, every time someone picks up a book by Risa Miller, Yehoshua November, Rochelle Krich, or Ruchama King Feuerman, they AREN’T reading…I’ll let you fill in the blank. And every time someone listens to Matisyahu, Y-Love, DeScribe, Ta-Shma, or Moshav, they AREN’T listening to…I’m sure you can fill that blank in, too.
There’s merit just from that. So much poison fills our minds when we internalize messages from music, art, and literature filled wrong-headed thinking. Even a morally-neutral alternative is preferable
But the artists I mention above go further than this. There’s just so much beauty in these artists’ words. They fill the readers’/listeners’ hearts and touch them much better than a good mussar schmuess rarely will for the average American…and the audience will remember the message. People will remember the words to a song or poem for years and years, if not a lifetime.
This is the kind of art I’d like to be able to share with the world at some point. An ambitious goal, for sure, but I’m hoping I’ve got years ahead of me to pursue it.
Since Lag B’omer just is past, I’m listing some links for contemporary Jewish music that penetrates the soul.
And here’s a lovely rendition of Matisyahu’s “One Day” by public schoolchildren in NYC: