Israel: Meet the Committee for Jewish Music

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be.jpgHeaded by Rabbi Ephraim Luft of Bnei Brak, the Committee for Jewish Music has undertaken to place a hechsher on permitted music, and more importantly, ban music not deemed suitable for the frum world.

Rabbi Luft and others feel the goyish music is having too strong an influence in what is being heard in frum homes and he aims to bring this to an end. The influence of rock, reggae and other styles will not be acceptable in Jewish music and composers and artists will have to find alternative sources of artistic influence.

According to Rav Mordechai Blau of Bnei Brak, the likes of “Michael Jackson” have no place in the Jewish home and his influence on music cannot be reflected in what the community listens to.

Rabbi Luft is working with Rabbi Blau and his Guardians of Jewish of Sanctity & Education organization to formulate guidelines for acceptable Jewish music.

Last year’s letter prohibiting concerts, even with separate seating, was signed by a number of gedolei yisrael, including the Gerrer Rebbe, Rav Elyashiv and Rav Ovadia Yosef.

Perhaps the most well-known case in which a chareidi performer was compelled to cancel a performance was Lipa’s cancellation of the concert which was to have taken place in Madison Square Garden.

On the other hand, a concert held this summer in Netanya featuring Avraham Fried was officially banned, but the concert was a success and hundreds of chareidim did attend.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


37 COMMENTS

  1. How ironic! Yeshiva World continues to religiously report ban after ban without the slightest hint that they are announcing it on a banned media, the internet!

  2. first of all, the prohibiting concerts, as my rav told me, was only in Yerushalayim…

    as a bt I go to weddings and usually sit there mocking everyone who tells me I shouldn’t listen to goyish music, because even the most heimish weddings are chock full of goyish music. I also find it a telling symptom of the lack of originality within most Jewish music, and then again, a lot of the Jewish music is made by people who aren’t even religious.

    however, much of the music made by people like MBD is based on goyish songs, so again, whatever they come up with, I’m still going to make fun of you all….

  3. Sigh. This is what the famed Rabbi Jacob Kassin z”l had to say about “unkosher” music:

    “Borrowing melodies and providing them with new, sacred Hebrew texts is done for a good reason, a reason of fundamental importance, and it is correct that it is said about it “that it is good.” This is so because the melody is a holy spark. Because when one plays sensual love songs, the spark is submerged in the kelippot [waste coverings]. It is for this reason that it is necessary to establish a foundation of holy words- drawn from the mouth of scholars and from the mouth of books- for any tune with a non-Jewish source, in order to lead the spark from the realm of evil to the realm of holiness. This is an obligation in the same way that it is an obligation to draw sinners to good, to turn away from iniquity, and to bring out the precious from the vile. It is an obligation to make clear the holy sparks. So it is with holy songs. The holy sparks bring light to the just.”

  4. So much of our zimiros have goyisha sources. One in particlar has a goyish name that is Lubavitch’s Napolean’s March. One particluar shabbos zemer nigun sounds like a walz. Alot of the songs of the Sefardim also sound Arabic. We have always picked up songs from the goyim. By the way the Lubavitzer Rebbe’s attidute was by Judeisising a goyish song like Napolean’s March we are raising it in kadusha. “All music has the power to bring tafilas to shamyim”.I have been at Satmar weddings where the band played movie themes. Either a person did not know what it was or if they did, they did not say anything. As an aside MBD and Avrohom Fried, his mimic, music sucks. There is no feeling of sprituality in their songs as they parade back and forth on the stage.

  5. First, there is no such thing today as “Jewish” music. Nor is there any such thing as “Jewish” food or dress or accent. All these are things we have taken from the Goyim at one time or other. In fact most of the fighting that goes on between various groups as to what is or is not Jewish can be summarized as: “The Goyim by great grandfather imitated were holier than the Goyim your great grandfather imitated.”

    What in fact makes something Jewish is a rather simple rule. Does it bring the Jew closer to G-D or not? If that nice, Kosher Pirkey group does no more than provide a useful stimulant while you are driving to or from work, how is that any different to having Michael Jackson howling in the background? Is this not in fact what Pirkey Avot calls using the Torah as a shovel to dig? Did David HaMelch write Tehilim to entertain or as “Kosher” Musiak? In fact, if you are using music to entertain, stimulate or distract you, it is probably BETTER to use Goyish music and NOT degrade the Torah by using it as a tool for your benefit.

    Next, is this really an effort to protect the public or to protect the incomes of those promoting this new type of HEKSHER? Once we are talking about HEKSHERIM, we are talking about money. “You want your song should be Kosher? So pay me!” If this new Kosher Con takes hold, the result will be a multitude of music HEKSHERIM that will match those of the food business. All that will do is make “Jewish” music more expensive because the cost of the HEKSHER will be passed on to the consumer.

  6. It’s fortunate these Rabbonim and Askonim were not in charge in the 50’s and 60’s. They would have banned Carlebach, Rabbis’ Sons, etc.
    That generation of teenagers would have instead continued to listen to ,”Peter, Paul & Mary”, Elvis, etc.
    We would have lost what turned out to be the generation that introduced to America the concept that one can learn full time after High School and popularized the “strange” concept of Kollel for many years after marriage.

  7. ok, so music derived from cheesy 1980s rock and Russian peasants of 200 years ago might be allowed, but not from other equally gentile sources. It is good that there is a wide and growing variety of music that aims to be both easy on the ear and the neshama. Like many of these decrees, one could say “careful, you might have fun”. Music is a big force in kiruv reckokim and kerovim. Please dont forbid the permitted.

  8. The ability to speak to people where they are is a big part of why kiruv has been so successful. I believe that music with english lyrics and yes even music with a rock and roll rhythm have been useful tools in that success. Like it or not we do not all fit precisely in the box. Bans like this are going damage kiruv and achdus. If you pull the wagons in too tight a circle you are not living in the world and therefore cannot be a light to the nations. Avoiding the test is not passing it.

  9. We are surely in need of rachamai shamayim if the heads of the latest MUSIC COMMITTEE are the same individuals who head the Purity and Modesty Clubbers of Tzinuus. Please!!!

  10. If we are looking for morality in our goyishe influences … is that the Michael Jackson reference ?? … we will have no rest. Who says my clothing designer, house architect or classical composers for that matter, were particularly suitable as influences on my life??? There is no clarity here, so far, as to what the standards are going to be. Is this based on “style”? or the contemporary fans lifestyles? Did we ban blue jeans? I thought they were just a choice, avoided my the more serious learners. Did we ban taking a date to a hotel lobby where various illegal and immoral activities are all around? We certainly haven’t banned ostentatious materialism, reflecting goyishe values of “trendy” compulsive spending. It doesn’t make any sense that folk or classical music (composed by convicted felons of immorality), is more acceptable than an easy-listening reggae tune (whether of dubious origin or not).

  11. Most “acceptable” chareidi music is strongly influenced by German waltzes and Ukrainian/Polish folk music. Presumably, the influences of such sonei yisroel is not a problem.

  12. IT’S ABOUT TIME.

    I heard Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky complain about the ear-splitting noise at some weddings.

    The effect of music on the soul is profound, and the Chassidishe Seforim warn against music that has immoral and undisciplined overttones.

    If you want to see how music has destroyed an entire generation of youth, take a look at MTV.

  13. To mrsk

    I just need to comment on you’re last statement “avioding the test is not passing it”
    The test is to be humble before Hashem and don’t be a big shot and say I’ll take on a test and pass it because you need His help to pass it anyway.

  14. More garbage from our cult. and user “deepthinker”, MTV has almost no music on it and hasn’t had any in a long time; they broadcast shows. So you don’t know anything about that. And what is “immoral and undisciplined overttones”? What key is that, what mode, what formula should I not be playing when I play guitar at weddings? I play the same crappy music over and over and LOTS of it has been ripped off from non-jewish music in the first place.

  15. 1. rav moshe “banned” shlomo carlebach music (specifically including his nigunim for davening) (as per igros moshe)though EVERYONE uses his nigunim today, even in lakewood (esp in lakewood) though i havent checked if MTJ uses him or not.

    2. maybe we should ban the catholic church for using our nigunim from the bet hamikdosh, even today!

    3. ALL music from the 80’s on, is ALL based on rav shlomo carlebach. simple solution. ban ALL jewish music today!

  16. Deepthinker- if you change your name to Deepreader, maybe you’ll read the comments before posting. Read #6 and understand there is no such thing as treif music (not words). But, I will grant you that the music the last 10-15 years is way too loud at simchos. Maybe a solution is- when we respond to a simcha- we should write- Imy”h I will be attending but please make sure that the music is not loud or otherwise I won’t be able to attend. The baal simchas will get the message if enough people do this. BTW, this has nothing to do with band, I have spoken to a lot of musicians and they are doing what the person paying them requests. They probably wouldn’t want it themselves so loud because 20 years ago almost none of them wore ear plugs, but now all of them do.
    As far as this org. giving hechsheyrim – “You can fool some of the people all of the time and You can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” I am not fooled by them. I guess they are running out of people to beat up who don’t dress Tzinously, so they are widening the group that they can start up with!

  17. I simply meant that you can’t hide and avoid being tested. Hashem does test us all the time and you are right that we can’t achieve anything without his help. But unless we risk failing, we can’t pass. Otherwise how will we achieve what Hashem expects each of to accomplish.

  18. I APPRECIATE THE CONFUSION.

    Music is a profound subject. It speaks directly to the soul. It’s easy to get confused, if you are sensitive to the effects.

    The movie industry and the advertising industry have psychologists whose job it is to come up with the right musical themes to evoke the response that is desired.

    If you think music is no big deal, and that it cannot inflict damage on the soul, then you are ignorant.

    Our classic musician was King David, who was known as “NaIm ZeMirOs YisRoel.” This was a title of great honor.

    Music can degrade and uplift. We need to examoine our music more closely to make sure that it helps, and does not damage, us and our families. We have a resposnibility to ourselves and to all of Klal Yisroel.

  19. better to avoid the test i.e. don’t put yourself in a position to pass or fail and then pass, better to stay away from the situation completely that is the true test-staying away!

  20. To #23 – I can’t tell if you are serious but I hope you are. It is about time that we take on the issue of untzniusdik dancing. It is a bizayon the way people oogle and boogle at chassunas.

  21. I’m sorry Shivisi. I just can’t agree. Each day is full of tests. You can’t avoid them unless you never get out of bed. Each correct choice is wonderful. Each wrong one, an oppotunity to grow and to do teshuva. A life where you avoid tests it seems to me is one lived in fear.

  22. I know this luft from his days in kiryat sefer. He is an extremist and left there “beboshes ponim”. The issue with the music is definitely a problem that needs to be dealt with but not by this guy. I haven’t kept up with him for the past few years but I am sure that he is busy with all these types of things.

  23. To MiMedinat HaYam

    You are incorrect, look at Reb Moshes teshuva Even HaEzer (1) 96.

    He NEVER assured Reb Shlomo’s music, He in fact said the OPPOSITE-

    Reb Moshe says “according to my humble opinion, I don’t see any issur”

  24. the whole concept of banning is a stupidity. to all those people interested in interfering with others lives, move to Beitar and not let them into your yeshivos unless the music has a hechsher.

    seriously, when is this INSANITY going to end?

    and btw, mbd has copied his fair share of non-jewish music

  25. Like my Illini07 said earlier, the more bans that come out will diminish the significance of them. These bans mean absolutely nothing because even if big Rabbonim sign them the facts are being misconstrued by the askonim who have agendas. Committees cant control what we listen to. Klal Yisroel is not the Taliban!
    By the way if anyone thinks that wedding music is too loud clearly they don’t get out enough. Live music is inherently loud. Is a baal simcha going to shell out $5000 for background music. If the band is too loud for you wimps get some ear plugs , dont stand so close to the speakers or perhaps get off your lazy tuchus and start dancing.
    If you dont like jewish music or Lipa dont listen to it, but do not ruin it for everyone who does.

  26. What is happening all around us is not a valient effort to make us toe to the tradition – it is a new fangled fanaticism, and it is getting worse year by year. Just look at photos of the Gedolim’s Rebbetzins of 30 years ago – they wouldn’t pass muster with today’s so-called tznius standards. With music too – who could have imagined even 10 years ago that some of our most wonderful entertainers, people such as Avraham Fried and MBD, people who have had such a positive influence on Yiddishkeit, could have their performances deemed treif. Mind Numbing. I know we are commanded to work on ourselves first, then community and only then on the Klal. That we need to work on stemming Loshon Hora, on maintaining Tznius and boundaries – but we need to pray to Hakodesh Boruchu that we don’t wind up off the deep end, so that on Tisha B’Avs of the future Yidden won’t have to cry over the sins we committed today in the name of purity.

  27. do any of you remember the time when there WAS no “jewish music” in stores. i do. my father, o.”h., was a literary critic for the n.y.times.
    what a simcha when he brought home that first small modzitzer melaveh malka record in the 1960s!
    we were so proud. how we loved that record after that came the original bobover record, with the disclaimer on the cover: this record was made without the haskomo of the bobover rebbe. at that time records were still considered “assur”

    (sounds familiar ???) lubavitch, carlebach, ger
    we owned ( and still own many ) them all. in the day schools every school had its choir. we proudly sang all sorts of jewish music. we were “jewish music educated” , if you will. raise children to have “taste” and they will prefer the “classics” ignore the importance of jewish cultural education and ….behold the consequences: politics meets music.
    one more thing. a vignette a propos:
    my husband and i were zocheh to be frequent guests at the table of rav, and rebbitzen, shimon schwab z.”l., he told a wonderful story about the time the bochurim, in the yeshiva he attended, conspired to teach the mashgiach a profound new niggun “zetssd” with just the right emphasis. they taught him , they sang slowly and carefully with much dveikus for a long long time. the mashgiach felt it was extremely “geshmak” only the bochurim knew that they were all singing ” three blind mice”.

  28. This issue seems to be a very volatile and emotional one, and many commenters seem to be shooting from the hip, rather than examining the ideas per se.
    I would like to address a few issues, and will try not to be lengthy. I don’t know if “the famed” Rabbi J. Kassin zt”l is the “last word” in kosher or unkosher music. While he was certainly a leader of Syrian Jewry in America, I don’t know if he was considered a gadol hador or posek hador. And I wonder if he were alive today, would he indeed say the same about some of today’s music?
    The attitude of most of the Chassidic Rebbes towards music is that indeed there IS kosher and unkosher music, and that it can either uplift or do the opposite. This is found in the writings of the Kuzmir-Zvolin-Modzitz dynasty, and those of Chabad as well. As to the Chabad adaptation of non-Jewish songs such as Napoleon’s March, Niggun Shamil and La Marseillaise [HaAderes v’Emuna], the Rebbes clearly state that this cannot be done by just anybody. Usually it was the Rebbes themselves who “elevated the sparks” of these tunes.
    As to the general influence of the non-Jewish world on yes, Jewish music, here I would like to quote Velvel Pasternak, who writes: “The surprising and interesting thing about Chassidic music is that it could take the foreign elements of the surrounding cultures and create a unique body of song with its own definite characteristics.” Regarding waltzes, which he admits is a form which “slowly crept into the repertoire,” he states: “although the idea for the waltz was borrowed, seeds of Chassidic feeling went into it, and the new waltz grew into a Jewish form.”
    I would add that one merely needs to listen to a waltz from Strauss, and then to one from, l’havdil, Modzitz, to see how far apart they have grown. The mere clothing of a rock song with words from Tehillim or the Siddur is not what the Chassidim did with the non-Jewish music of their time and environment.
    As to Sefardic music, many of my Edot HaMizrach friends remind me that it was their Jewish music that was adapted [appropriated?] by their Arab neighbors, rather than the other way around.
    We do have to distinguish between the volume of music played at weddings, and the music we listen to in our homes, in our cars and in our offices. It is not the same issue.
    And finally, the issue of Kosher music is a real one, and not as some of the cynical comments here would have us believe as only an issue of “askonim” and “hechsherim” and money. Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that everything we put into our ears is Kosher. Perhaps it is a good idea that a committee is established to advise us about what to listen to. And to “chgoachdus,” yes, we do need to think carefully about the clothes we wear, where we go on dates, and ostentatious materialism. Throughout our history, when these matters got “out of hand,” our gedolim took action to bring us back into line – thank G-d!

  29. Many of you keep saying how many of our nugunim and zemiros come from Non-Jewish sources so why not ban them too, right??!!. But I seriously think that the music influence back then is very different than the one now. If a song with Jewish words has a tune that you can dance to in a completely immodest way then there’s gotta be something wrong with that. I think that is what these “banning Rabbi’s” want to take care of – songs that sound like ROck and HipHop with kadosh words. I don’t know why they are focusing on these things instead of other things that we all need to work on – but there definately is some validity to it.

  30. I think the words of Shir HaShirim would be banned if they had been written today and put to a nigun. Music and metaphor have always been a source of inspiration.