January 1, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm #607658ChortkovParticipant
I was talking to somebody in a kiruv organization where i went away this week, and we had an interesting conversation about music.
If you have some music – the words are not about anything disgusting – composed, arranged and sung by a goy, is there anything wrong halachically or hashkafically?
In your answer, please consider if this becomes better now that a Jew with a beard and peyos who is shomer shabbos now comes and sings it… and if he changes the words to a possuk from tehillim?
Also discuss why it is different from a classic piano concerto from Mozart, Beethoven or Bach (if it is different)?January 2, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am #917281yytzParticipant
This appears to be a common practice among musicians nowadays, and some rabbis apparently have no problem with it. However, there are those who say a non-Jewish melody needs to be somehow “rectified” before it can be made use of without danger (Prolific Chabad kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhok Ginsburg holds this way, I believe — you can check his website to find more).
One interesting hashkafic source on this issue is Likutei Eitzos, Music, which you can read for free in English online. Here are a couple quotes from it:
“The miserable wailing of the songs of the wicked does a great deal of damage because people are easily influenced by them. But when the Tzaddikim sing these songs on Shabbat they elevate and purify them.”
“A holy melody gives strength to the forces of holiness. But the music of the Sitra Achra, the Other Side, damages these forces and lengthens the exile. It makes people stumble and traps them like birds in a snare. Be very careful never to listen to this kind of music at all. The musicians and singers who produce it have no religious intentions whatsoever. On the contrary, they only want to make money or become famous. Listening to this kind of music can seriously weaken your devotion to God. But the melodies played by a truly religious, God-fearing musician can be very inspiring. They can strengthen your devotion immensely.”
“Man is endowed with an image-making faculty, which is one of the most powerful forces in his life, because it is through this that he forms his concepts. But because it is linked to the imagination, it is seriously prone to error. Good and evil are mixed up. But music played by a truly God-fearing player for the sake of Heaven has a wonderful power to subdue the wildness of the imagination, and the good is sifted from the bad. Such music has the power to lift you from depression and inspire you with joy. This is the way to develop a good memory, which means to remember at all times the goal of the World to Come and to understand the things God sends every day to draw you closer to Him. When you have a good memory, you are free of the deceptions of surface appearances.”January 2, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am #917282yosefc18Member
I dont think mozart or bach is any better than whats on the radio nowadays. Also the words to these songs are problematic, they are not the only issue with goyish music. A rabbi once gave a shmooz that the person who created the beat and tune to these songs “neshama” enters these beats and infiltrates yours, I’m sure nobody would want to be affected by these recording artists dirty souls.
Now if your going to get into songs that have dirty words and meanings, the problem is clear. How can one hear these disgusting lyrics and fantasies and then learn gemara the next day the same way he would if he had not heard the song. And the songs that may sound clean usually have some underlying message that you cant dig up from the surface.January 2, 2013 6:23 am at 6:23 am #917283NechomahParticipant
My biggest problem with classical music is because most of the composers were antisemitic. Why would I want to listen to their music?January 2, 2013 6:32 am at 6:32 am #917284OneOfManyParticipant
Nechomah: If those composers were still alive and reaping benefit from you listening to their music, then I would hear your point. But as it is, why does it matter? The statement you would be making is sort of moot, don’t you think?January 2, 2013 6:44 am at 6:44 am #917285locaMember
I think the Non-Jewish music thing isn’t so complicated. When u listen to something, (If ur sensitive enough to feel it) what kind of effect does it have on you?January 2, 2013 9:41 am at 9:41 am #917286
For me, I say that if the words are ok and the artist is a decent, neat person, it’s fine.
One example is Mark Knopfler. He worked as a journalist and graduated univerity with a degree in the English language before becoming an artist. Many of his songs are of a type you wouldn’t really find anywhere else. Look up “Sailing to Philadelphia”, “Piper to the End”, or “So far from the Clyde”.
Tell me which modern-day singer can take something from history of 250 years ago (the Mason-Dixon line, the background of Jeremiah Mason and Charles Mason) and turn it into a song?
There is a big line between real, serious artists and the other type.January 2, 2013 6:23 pm at 6:23 pm #917287
most of the composers were antisemitic.
Not sure where you got that information from but it’s definitely mistaken. Sure there were some high-profile antisemitic composers, Wagner springs to mind, but most (and there were many hundreds of composers in the music-era commonly referred to as classical, i.e. 17th-early 20th Centuries) were not in the least bit. Many (for example, Mahler, Mendlessohn, Shoenberg, Suk) were Jewish themselves and many (including Dvorak, Elgar, Borodin, Bruckner) were decidedly prosemitic. And, yes, some people won’t listen to Wagner as a result of his antisemitism, but to not listen to any classical music whatsoever because you believe all of them to be antisemitic is just mistaken.January 2, 2013 6:35 pm at 6:35 pm #917288zahavasdadParticipant
Mendelsohn was not jewish, His parents converted to Christianity
(He might have been Halachic Jewish, but definatly not spiritually)January 2, 2013 6:40 pm at 6:40 pm #917289YusselParticipant
Yosefc18: “I dont think mozart or bach is any better than whats on the radio nowadays.”
I hope you are kidding about this.January 2, 2013 7:07 pm at 7:07 pm #917290Sam2Participant
It honestly bothers me when even Rabbonim come up with these meta-Halachic concepts about music affecting the soul or whatever. If these things were true, they would have a source in the Gemara or Halachah. Yes, we have Halachos against inappropriate songs. Yes, everyone should be smart enough to realize that if something affects you badly spiritually, not to do it. But to say things like a person puts his soul into his music and therefore listening to music from a bad person necessarily affects you, there’s just no source for that. I don’t get it.
(I could hear avoiding something with a composer who was a Rasha to avoid giving a Sheim to a Rasha. But not because of the music per se.)January 2, 2013 7:21 pm at 7:21 pm #917291besalelParticipant
among the middle eastern “jews”, arabic music was whidely listened to among the religious such as um al khartoum who was listened to by rabbi ovadya yosef. further, the melodies of the chazzunim such as yechiyel nahary and moishe chabushe are arabic songs converted for use in tfilluh. in fact, if you look for videos of concerts of religious jewish singers of middle east decent you will find that the concerts have some jewish worded songs and some arabic songs with love song lyrics being performed in front of religious crowds which include separate seating. it does not seem to be an issue at all among those “jews”.January 2, 2013 7:39 pm at 7:39 pm #917292mgirlMember
i heard that the way you know if a song is ok to listen to or not is to think about the intentions and thoughts of the composer at the time he/she was composing the song. when a composer composes a song, he/she puts part of their soul into it. and when u listen to that song, part of their soul is going into yours. if the composer is a gross person, probably they had gross thoughts while composing the song. and vice versa. so even if a jewish person takes a song that was originally composed by a goy and sings it, the goy’s heart and soul is still in that song. and u don’t really want a piece of these disgusting people in you.January 2, 2013 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm #917293
Music is certainly a powerful tool, and has the potential to affect a person positively or negatively in a strong way, if the listener should so choose it to do so. Free will is an even stronger tool.January 2, 2013 7:58 pm at 7:58 pm #917294uneeqParticipant
Sam2 +1January 2, 2013 8:04 pm at 8:04 pm #917295
Zdad – Whether or not he was ‘spiritually Jewish’, the fact remains that Mendelssohn was a Jew. And not antisemitic. Which was the point of my post.January 2, 2013 9:27 pm at 9:27 pm #917296benignumanParticipant
To quote R’Moshe Feinstein “music can’t become tamei.”
I have never seen a source quoted from Talmud Bavli supporting the idea that a song can be forbidden solely by virtue of the character of its author.January 2, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm #917297ChortkovParticipant
loca, Chassidish Gatesheader, Sam2, benignuman and uneeq – Am i correct in summarising that you would listen to a song composed and sung by a non-Jew, with words not relating to Judaism at all as long as they are not in any way spiritually destructive?
And do you see any difference whatsoever between that and listening to a MBD or Avraham Fried song?January 2, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm #917298Sam2Participant
yekke2: You clearly haven’t read enough of my posts. Vehameivin Yavin. But in theory I would not see a difference Legabei any Issur. “Jewish” songs might generally be more inspiring and have more of a positive aspect, but I could definitely understand if people were inspired by some “Goyish” songs too. So there’s no difference in that neither has a negative. In general, Jewish music might have more positives but that will purely depend on the song and the listener.January 3, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am #917299
Frankly, I don’t find MBD or Avraham Fried songs inspiring.January 3, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am #917300
To me Mahler is more inspiring than MBD, Shostakovitch more than Shwekey. Also, I fail to see why listening to ‘yidden’ by MBD is more spiritual than listening to ‘Genghis Kahn’ (the Eurovision-winning song which ‘provided’ the tune for ‘yidden’). That may be the most famous example of plagiarism in the Jewish-music world but it is by no means amongst a minority. With painfully few exceptions almost all Jewish artists have taken parts or even the entirety of non-Jewish songs. A favourite seems to be Abba who have had part or whole tunes used by Dedi, Shwekey, Gertner, Fried and more.January 3, 2013 2:13 pm at 2:13 pm #917301zahavasdadParticipant
Maoz Tsur is a german church tune and The Lubavichers use La Marseillaise as a NiggunJanuary 3, 2013 2:20 pm at 2:20 pm #917302
There are some Jewish artists that I do find inspiring, like Eitan and Shlomo Katz. Carlebach tunes are generally inspiring as well, although it depends who’s singing them. But I also find a lot of classical music inspiring, especially from the Romantic Era (Chopin is awesome), as well as Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, and many of the Beatles’ songs.January 3, 2013 4:16 pm at 4:16 pm #917303YusselParticipant
justmyhapence: “To me Mahler is more inspiring than MBD, Shostakovitch more than Shwekey.”
Agreed. I would add Boccherini, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms.
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