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Jac 01-13-2002 09:29 PM

Jewish Music
We all know the importance of listening to Jewish music, and how you become connected to the singer/composer of whichever song you listen to.

But does this apply to the words or to the tunes too? What about Jewish songs, which use non-Jewish music? Even big time Jewish singers, like MBD and Avraham Fried, seem to use non-Jewish music at times. And then there are tapes like Destiny, women singers, and the like--some of which openly use non-Jewish tunes. Do we say that that is the same as listening to non-Jewish music off a radio? That doesn't sit right with me, but perhaps that is the case.

What about classical music? Is it worse or better-it doesn't have any graphic or explicit lingo, but it is like (l'havdil) a niggun without words, and thus all the more powerful, unlimited by words. What if one plays an instrument, and therefore learns classical music in order to learn to play?

And how about the Rebbeim changing non-Jewish tunes into niggunim? On FrumTeens, he mentions how even Lubavitcher niggunim aren't truly Jewish music. How does that work?

This all becomes a big problem, especially when dealing with youth--the message seems slightly inconsistent, to say the least, when they hear non-Jewish music blasting from a supposedly Jewish tape.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has anything to add or can perhaps answer any of these questions, and on the importance of listening to Jewish music only. In short, the question is:
What makes music Jewish -- or non-Jewish?

ChachChach 01-13-2002 10:26 PM

thanks jac, this is something that i've been wondering about too (some of these questions, that is)

one thing about what the Rebbe did-i think we'll all agree that rabeim are on a quite a higher level than us, and only they have the koach to remove something from shulush klipos

Jac 01-15-2002 03:13 PM

Thanks, chachchach, but do you think such a vague answer would hold water with a place like frumteens? (Not that I ever intend to bother trying to respond there, but I'm using that as an illustration of people with no concept of what a rebbe, etc. is.)

Anything clearer or stronger? No one has [I]any[/I] answers?;)

Jac 01-15-2002 04:56 PM

i just paid a few minute visit to the old frumteens, and happened onto a thread on jewish music. (Boy, am I glad that i'm done with site and that this one exists. It makes me sick!! So much of it is so superficial and ........ok, i won't get off tangent.)

Anyway, it mentions the new tape Chevrah and puts down its songs, especially the first one, "yehai." I had never known there was a problem with even such a tape, but aside from the fact that it supposedly sounds like a non-Jewish band, it says that R'MOshe Feinstein made it assur to make pesukim into songs. Takes away the kedusha. Anyone know anything about THAT? that incriminates lots of tapes!

If anyone knows anything of this, please post a reply and let me know!

Jude 01-17-2002 02:06 PM

This doesn't address Jewish music directly, but even in discussing secular music, it mentions "Jewish-secular" music. I thought it was worth copying parts of it.

In Country Yossi magazine a number of years ago, a fifteen year old girl wrote a letter which said that she is a good, frum girl who dresses tzniusdikly and does not associate with boys, but she listens to secular music. She likes it immensely, would find it very difficult to survive without it, it's a way of escaping, of calming down, and a way of venting her conflicts. She said she understood what is wrong with vulgar music, but what about calmer stuff. She realized there was something wrong with listenign to it bec. she didn't want her parents to know. She says that her teachers don't say much about it, but when they do, they just knock it without explaining what's wrong, and that they also knock some Jewish music. She asks: How can they tell us that there is something wrong with some of the Jewish music while for many of us the 'bad" Jewish music is wonderful?" Plus, what do they know about secular music, when they admit they don't listen to it? They don't know why we need it so badly. They don't know how it helps us deal with life's hardships. If they'd explain why it's so bad, maybe it would be a lot easier for us to stop listening to it.

Somebody who signed as "Ex-Musicholic" wrote a response:

... this machala of secular music has stealthily infiltrated our community and continues to wreak havoc on countless neshamos. Anyone who disagrees with this is simply fooling himself.

I am writing this from the perspective of a baalas teshuva who unfortunately grew up listening to that garbage on a daily basis. I experienced a lot of pain and hardships during my childhood, and I prided myself on not emulating my peers by turning to drugs and alcohol in an effort to diminish the daily pains of life. Instead I put another record on the player and numbed myself, or I just danced to the hypnotic rhythms ..What I did not realize at the time was that since substance abuse is a blatantly self-destructive type of behavior, there is hope for rehabilitation - the physical damage can be easily assessed. But what about the spiritual damage that results from subjecting a neshama tehora to hours and hours of "beautiful" songs glorifying physicality, i.e. the love of money, illicit relations, and violence, just to mention a few?

I dare say that many cases of "problems," including shalom bayis, kibud av v'eim, and melancholy within the community are actually symptoms, and the real issue is faulty hashkafos penetrating our minds through sound waves we often are not even consciously aware of.

It astound me how so many frum, kosher, G-d fearing individuals are completely naive regarding the damage caused by this music. We are forced to hear it in FRUM stores (see letter to ed. in N'Shei Newsletter Kislev issue - Jude), restaurants, and offices in Boro Park and Flatbush.

... even "acceptable" Jewish rock, jazz, and pop music breaks down barriers, making the switch to secular tunes that much easier. ... years ago I was horrified upon hearing my friend's 14 year old daughter sing out loud while preparing for Shabbos. "Oh, you can be my baby ..." among other lyrics I can't even put in writing. She was just steps away from the Kosel, a stark constrast to the Shiras Ha'Leviyim. ... She was just mimicking songs she had heard in her aerobic class. When I questioned her mother .. she emphatically stated, "You just can't get that beat in Jewish music to really burn off those calories."

"What about the calmer stuff?" - most of the music I listened to was the "calmer stuff." Just listen to the words and the answer is evident. 80-90% of the secular music themes are relationships and love. The secular attitudes towards relationships are, "What's in it for me?" and "What will you do for me?" and "If you don't give me what I want, I'll just get it somewhere else." Not exactly the way the Torah defines love.

... the point is our subconscious is very powerful. Messages that we are not even aware of, infiltrate our beings and affect our behavior ..

... she even argued that he was raising this [secular] music to a high level of kedusha. The teacher said, nonsense! What we don't realize is how intimately music is tied to the neshama. Forget about the words, the rhythm of that treif music immediately goes into the neshama and actually brings the neshama down ...

... most secular music comes m'tzad ha'tuma. Think of all those kelipos clinging to our neshamos, ch'v. Because music has the abiltity to bring us to such high spiritual levels, it can bring us that more more in the opposite direction.

By listening to secular music, we are oiver several aveiros: going in the way of the goyim, not being kedoshim, not guarding our souls, to mention a few.

Musicholic, keep listening to your yetzer tov, that guilt feeling you experience when you listen to the music, and please daven to Hashem for strength to fight this addiction. Realize that Hashem loves you so much and wants to see you overcome this nisayon ..

Jac 01-17-2002 05:57 PM

Thanks for your post, Jude. That is truly an amazing answer, really powerful.
So does anyone think that this applies to Jewish songs that are secular tunes?

Jude 01-18-2002 11:15 AM

You can check out Beis Moshiach issue #113, p. 67 for an article on Chabad Music. It's written by an anonymous woman, and I'll copy some of it :

We must live with Moshiach and Geula. We must picture in our minds, we must imagine and apply the future Geula to our lives. Have you ever imagined what we will hear when Moshiach comes?

Of course, first and foremost, we will hear the voice of Melech Ha'Moshiach with the Torah Chadasha, accompanied by the sweet, well-known niggun of a sicha and a maamar.

Then will come the turn of the niggunim, the niggunim between sichos and also the niggunim of the dancing in the streets.

What do you think the musicians will play? Have you ever thought about it? Go over to your cassettes and CDs and check your inventory. Check the type of songs, the sound that hovers about your home on a daily basis, which awaits Moshiach, which yearns "to live" now already with Moshiach.

This cassette and that one, and that other one which is really popular and listened to a lot, all of them have pure words from the siddur, Tehillim, but the music ...

"Chassidance" (rikud is not good enough, it has to be dance). Okay, even "Moshiach, Moshiach," or "Boruch Ha'Ba," which were perhaps sanctified through the mivtzaim of the dira ba'tachtonim through the spreading of the wellsprings of emuna on this difficult road, mata and chutza to the crowds of Rome and the stadiums of Greece. But what about the rest?

Is this called "living with Moshiach?" Are these tunes our ears are meant to hear and our mouths to hum in the present era of Moshiach?

We don't have to speak about the Chasidishe Shabbos table, where surely the sounds of holy niggunim waft heavenward. But what about day to day life, the sounds of jazz and discos wedded to the holy pesukim? Is this appropriate music for a chasidishe home which awaits Moshiach's coming momentarily?

... For your information, I present to you some questions to ask yourself:

1) How many Chabad niggumin did your children hear this week? How many other songs?

2) When a Chabad niggun is played, do your children's eyes sparkle and do they join in singing and dancing?

3) Do your children know how to hum the niggun "Beinoni" and the "Shalosh Tenuos?"

4) At the Shabbos table, at a gathering, in class, at a farbrengen or birthday party, what do the children sing? A meaningful and purposeful song, or ch'v is the time filled with foolish songs?

... you wouldn't put junk food in his/her mouth (certainly not on a regular basis), what about the ear? Have you ever paid attention to what you put in your child's ears?

For ... the sound of music enters the ear canal and reaches the "odna d'liba" (the ear of the heart), which is the innermost point wherein the yechida sh'b'nefesh resides (Sefer Ha'Maamorim 5699, p. 89).

So what do you put in their ears? Yes, it's true. The words are fine, some are even pesukim. Is that all? What about the music? What about the tune? Isn't the music "junk music?"

If you think I'm too extreme, too fanatical, I guess we'll have to go our separate ways. I'll ask the question again: Isn't the music "junk music?"

"Junk food" isn't poisonous, ch'v. It happens to be quite enjoyable and tasty, but it's "junk food." It has no value, doesn't contribute anything.

"Junk music" is the same. It is a tune which offers nothing, says nothing, or the way Chassidim would say it, "Niggun shoteh." And this is what you let your children hear?

On the other hand, when you put a tape into the machine of niggunei Chabad, you are accomplishing tremendous things in the education of your child! Following are some quotes (free translation):

That a niggun plays an important role in Chassidus is manifest. It's not just a matter of sentiment. It's something apparent to all. (Sefer Ha'Sichos, 9 Nissan, 5700)

A niggun has the power to pull a person out of even the deepest mud (sicha, 12 Tammuz 5706).

The joy of a mitzva and song annuls all judgements and accusations in ruchnius and gashmius (Igros Kodesh of the TzTz, p. 368).

Once a Chassid was very enthusisastic about Chassidic niggunim. Every Chassid found pleasure and sweetness in a niggun. The niggun found favor in his eyes. When he sang, the niggun lifted him from his simplicity and elevated him from the mundane world (Likkutei Dibburim, vol. 3, p. 409)

Song is one of the practices and ways of service of Chassidim, who received this from the Besht (Sefer Ha'Sichos, 5702, p. 117)

Song is the quill of the heart (ibid, quote from the Alter Rebbe)

Sefer Ha'Sichos, 5703, p. 58-59: The idea of niggun needs correcting and strengthening. In days gone by, a Jew would pray and sing a niggun in the course of his davening, and naturally he would sing it after davening too.

Householders and businessmen would stew (?) in chasidic niggunim. Every Chassid, whatever type of personality he may have been, took special pleasure in a niggun. The niggun found favor in his eyes, and when he sang it, the song would remove him from his descent and lift him from his profane condition.

Through the 'letters' of song, a person is elevated and is incorporated in the most elevated of levels of the palaces of light and revelation. Rays of light push away for a while all that is no good, and arouse in him his inner goodness which is hidden, which is clear and pure ... (Sefer Ha'Sichos, 5703, p. 111).

the author: Many times you've thought that a certain child of yours certainly had "inner hidden good which is clear and pure" but you didn't know how to bring it out and push away that which was not good.

When they sang some Chabad niggunim once before the Previous Rebbe, he said (Sichas seder rishon shel Pesach 5706):

With these niggunim the "ani ha'Chasidi" is reflected. When he wanted to draw the simple people close, the Alter Rebbe devised the idea of song, for through song the root of the neshama is revealed.

Early Chassidim would say: What is the difference between a Chasidishe niggun and any other song? An ordinary song relates that a person is in the mud and he enjoys trampling in it. A Chasidishe niggun says that a person is in the mud but is trying to get out of it and above it!

These and many other quotes appear in the intro. to Sefer Ha'Niggunim, some of which were anthologized in Otzar Pisgamei Chabad by Rabbi A. Friedman.

[end of article]

Clip 01-21-2002 01:08 AM

I was quite taken with the comment about R' Moshe Feinstein, and I asked several people about it... None of them had ever heard such a thing before. Can someone please find out more about it??

This is apparently developing into a trend: I offer no answers, only more questions. :D So, I was wondering...

If you "connect with the soul" of the person who wrote a song, it goes without saying that nobody wants to be connected to the author of a non-Jewish song. But I still don't understand quite what a non-Jewish song [i]is[/i]. Is it because the person who wrote it is not a Jew? What if a Jew, and a frum one at that, were to write a song whose lyrics totally didn't personify the Jewish way of life? And what if they were to compose music to those lyrics? In essence, is that not a Jewish song? After all, both the words and the tune were composed by a Jew!

Jude 01-21-2002 10:56 AM

Here's a fascinating response to the article from Beis Moshiach, written by Moshe Yess ("V'Hu Yigaleinu ...") in 5757:

By Divine Providence I read this article ... one day after my children asked me if they could listen to a new Jewish tape which featured loud, screaming, heavy metal electric guitars shaking drum beats .. while also being coupled with lyrics that express Holy matters. Music .. such as this obviously falls into those categories defined by the author as "junk music," and "foolish songs," to use her terminology.

While I am certainly not qualified to be considered a historian of Chassidic music, nor a judge of what is truly Chasidic music, I would like to share some anecdotes and comments which I believe are quite relevant to the issues she raised.

The first time I personally heard the Alter Rebbe's niggun was after some 16 years of playing non-Jewish music professionally in CA. My immediate reaction was one of terror. My neshama instantly and intuitively knew that this song was Holy. It became immediately self evident to me that one would not put such a song into a jazz setting for art's sake, ch'v.

As a new returnee to Judaism 18 years ago, who happened to be a musician by trade, it was of great importance to me to learn what was Kosher music. I was instructed by my Rabbi in yeshiva from a rather detailed teshuva in Igros Moshe of R' Moshe Feinstein z'l, on the topic of kosher music. I have attempted to follow this teshuva in my years of composing and performing Jewish music. Please note that I am obviously not a posek. What I am about to express is my personal understanding of this teshuva, and therefore my understanding carries no religious authority whatsoever.

It seems to my understanding of this teshuva, that the music which the the author calls "junk and foolish and mud-bound," is kosher. But the music's kashrus is not the matter at hand. The main issue is its influence on the Yid listening to it. Does it keep him or her in the mud or take one out of the mud? As Chassidim we always look to our Melech for instructions and standards. Therefore, I wish to share this true event which I was directly involved in.

Upon arriving in a certain country for concert performances some years ago, I was informed by a member of Anash in that country, that the rav of the Lubavitch community had made a takana that Anash should only listen to Chabad niggunim. This takana directly affected the concert turnout for which I was contracted. A concerned letter was faxed to the Rebbe MH"M explaining the circumstances and the words "Chasidishe niggunim," were part of the text of that letter.

I was informed that the Rebbe MH"M had circled these two words and had put a question mark after the circle. The concert did occur, but with much controversy and quite some displeasure expressed amongst Anash about the takana. Music which had been accepted and listened to for years was suddenly under a kashrus review.

To provide further background to this matter, I will now relate my experiences upon the start-up of the Megama Duo. American style folk, country, and rock music had been harnessed with a Jewish outreach message. While the popular response was overwhelmingly positive within and without of Lubavitch, there was a certain segment of the Orthodox community in Eretz Yisrael which decided to call the rosh yeshiva of where we were learning, and they demanded our immediate ouster from the yeshiva, demanded the immediate termination of our performances, and sadly, the threat of cherem was also raised and I believe even actualized against us.

The self appointed music police of this community had decided that songs like My Zaidy, Dollar Bill, and David Cohen's bar mitzva were deemed not only "junk" but treif to the extent of justifying the cherem. By the standards of their community (or themselves?), only music that blatantly fell into a category of what I call with respect "yay dee dai," was kosher, or worthy to listen to. "Yay dee dai," was sung by their Eastern European zaidies and tattis and hence, everything else was treif.

I personally received haskama and three brachos from the Rebbe MH"M for the creation of a rock and roll band for the secular market which also includes, as of yet, non observant Jews. Even the name, "Burnt Offering," was approved. Additionally, I heard from Rabbi Avi Piamenta, that he and his brother Yossi too had received bracha to do rock music within the Jewish market for the purpose of connecting to those Jews using a musical language and format they relate to.

Should the author decide to purge her Chasidishe home of for example ... MBD, Avraham Fried, Journeys, the Marvelous Middos Machine, the Piamentas etc. as her personal preparation for Moshiach's arrival, then I sincerely respect her personal chumra in this matter and I praise her for it. But when she thereafter attempts to purge all of Lubavitch of this "fit for the Roman masses only" music she calls "junk" and "foolish music," I become amazed and quite alarmed. Why?

For starters, many of the present standard Chasidic niggunim were originally of non-Jewish folk song origin according to my understanding. These tunes were "chapped" for kedusha and only after popular acceptance were then deemed Chasidishly appropriate.

This seems to be the origin and derech of some of our Chabad music standards. Additionally, I was taught by a Breslaver Chassid (in his Rebbe's name) that because "we left our harps upon the willow trees in Bavel" - the harps (symbolizing Jewish music) were left hefker - and were taken by non-Jews, we now are therefore attracted to some remaining sparks of kedusha which fell from our music via the harps into some of their music. The Rebbe MH"M "chapped," the French National Anthem I believe, for reasons I won't even speculate about, as they are beyond my grasp, obviously.

I again, respectfully ask the author to consider this next matter. I was recently overwhelmed to literal tears when I was informed that a tune which I composed this past year and which was performed and produced in conjunction with Avi Piamenta, was sung in 770, Beis Chayeinu, on Simchas Torah past, by all present.

Does this song, not being from her Zaidy's generation, fall as well into the cateogry of "junk music" too? Or was in "junk" before Simchas Torah, but thereafter it is now Chasidish? The central point I am leading up to is the matter of personal taste in music and the music's influence on people.

I personally hold niggunim like "[I]tzama lecha nafshi[/I] to be in the highest category of kedush. What I don't hold by however, is an elitist dynamic which may develop around one's love, attachment, and respect for these songs, to the exclusion of all other apparently kosher and accepted Jewish music. What the author calls "junk music," may be the only Jewish music that someone less fortunate, someone without Chabad niggunim in their upbringing, may find spiritually uplifting and meaningful. Chabad niggunim may literally be too high or even currently too foreign for some of these people to even relate to.

To the best of my knowledge, the Rebbe MH"M stated "shira v'zimra will break the darkness and bring refuah." I do not see any explicit or implicit reference to Chasidishe music exclusively in these holy words of our Melech. To the contrary, based on the above-mentioned haskama and brachos relating to Jewish rock, it seems to me that rock and roll has its chelek to play in and on the road to the third Beis Ha'Mikdash we find ourselves on. There are l'havdil, some 5 billion non-Jews. They too will eventually grasp, I am certain, the unprecendented joy of this unfolding redemption. I do not believe that they are capable of expressing that joy other than in the music of their own culture whic is certainly not Chabad music.

In conclusion, may I humbly suggest that publicly promote chumros in ahavas Yisrael and tzedaka and the like. I am of the opinion that for many of us baalei teshuva, the vildkeit of Jewish rock music will be the only fitting vessel for the "vildkeit of joy" we are destined for in immediately seeing our Melech again. If the author wants to prepare for and leave this terrible galus with only chasidishe niggunim, then more power to her. But I respectfully ask her: Please do not possul my own or anyone else's exit listening music out of here as this is not a directive from our Melech but rather her own personal choice and standard.

And if by chance, my cloud to Eretz Yisrael passed hers, and I happen to be "heavy metal," Jewish music listening, rocking out of my keili ... at 120 decibels ... with earthquake sized drum beats noch ... in delirious, screaming fuzz toned, feedbacked ecstasy ... singing Moshiach, Moshiach, Moshiach ...or anything else she personally deems as plebian and mud-bound, for that matter ... please, please, please do not deny me the option of using this musical vehicle for my personal expression of joy and hiskashrus, because it doesn't suit her personal tastes or personal chasidishe musical standards. I find her suggestion, while truly sincere and well-intentioned, to be more machmir than our Melech's.

Jude 01-21-2002 04:11 PM

what I think ...
My comments on the topic are:

1) Mose Yess describes the author of the article's views as "personal taste or personal Chasidishe standards" and "personal chumras." I am surprised he says this when the woman brought sources from the Likkutei Dibburim, Sefer Ha'Sichos, etc. Her point was based SOLELY on Chassidic sources.

2) Moshe Yess bases his view on answers he received from the Rebbe. What he mentions but does not emphasize, is that the bracha he says Piamenta got was [B]for the purpose of connecting with those Jews using a musical language and format they relate to.[/B] And the brachos he got, were for the "[B]secular market[/B]"

As Moshe Yess himself writes, "this "junk" music may be the only Jewish music that someone [B]less fortunate, someone without Chabad niggunim in their upbringing,[/B] may find spiritually uplifting and meaningful.

In other words: WHO the music is for is THE factor here. For someone who was raised in a Chasidishe environment, attended Chasidishe schools and so on, ANYTHING BUT Chasidishe niggunim is a YERIDA for them. There is NO REASON to expose such children to ANYTHING BUT Chasidishe music.

On the other hand, those who WERE EXPOSED to other types of music, might benefit from hearing music with a Jewish message, in sounds they are familiar with.

Therefore, it is my opinion, that baalei teshuva who are uplifted by Jewish though not Chassidic music, SHOULD NOT in turn raise their own children with the music THEY THEMSELVES need due to their previous secular background. They do their children, who are being raised as frum and Chasidishe children, a DISSERVICE by exposing them to music that is not Chasidish.

Born and bred Chasidish children DO NOT benefit from Shlock Rock etc. Not yet frum people, or baalei teshuva, WOULD BENEFIT from this music.

I don't like being told what to do, but at least in concept, I think the takana of the Rabbi that Anash of his community play only Chasidishe music, is wonderful. He is trying to upgrade the standards of Anash, and that is welcome! I think it's a wonderful thing to have only Chasidishe nigunim at simchos, events, and playing in the house. If parents have the need to hear other music, let them use earphones, or play it when the children aren't around. LET'S EXPECT MORE OF OUR CHILDREN, RATHER THAN PASS ALONG THE VERY SAME WEAKNESSES WE HAVE.

And I have what might be news for some. CHILDREN WILL NOT FEEL AT ALL DEPRIVED, if all they know is Chasidishe niggunim. If that's what plays in the house for the 2, 3, 4, year old etc. THEY DON'T KNOW ANY DIFFERENT. This music is what they will come to love! If, on the other hand, JM in the AM is allowed to play in the house, then all sorts of other sounds are what the child will get used to.

This is one of those cases where "less is more," i.e. that by sheltering our children, they GAIN, because their ears remain unsullied, and they can APPRECIATE aidel, holy, music.

How many kids can be heard to say what I heard a child recently say, who was listening to old Yom Tov Erlich tapes, one of which only had a piano accompaniment. (Believe me, for those who are unfamiliar with it, this is not a slick, exciting sound, to put it mildly). His songs, which are in Yiddish, are full of tochen, yiras shomayim, emuna, etc. elicited the following comment:

"I really like this song. It wouldn't put any of today's music to shame!"

Now, Yom Tov E.'s music and singing compared to today's Jewish music sound, are like night and day! How thrilled I was to hear this comment, and to see that in this day and age, a child can be raised on niggunim and not lose his sensitivity and [I]gehfil[/I] for truly hartzige music. (He can compare it to today's sound, because inevitably, he gets to hear at least a little of today's music).

I don't think it has anything to do with "music police." The Orthodox community in Eretz Yisrael, were justifiably alarmed by the infiltration of a goyish sound. The music Moshe Yess wants to play, and for which he received the Rebbe's blessings, is meant as an OUTREACH TOOL, and not for those already frum.

About the origins of Chasidishe music - I assume that most of it (not just Chabad, but those of other Chassidic groups) is original music. Some of it was taken from the prevailing music of the time, and what I understand of that is - if a tzaddik did it, that's one thing. If a musician making a living does it, that's another thing.

Some final comments:
Carlebach said that he never heard a Beatles' song. I believe him, because there is absolutely no secular influence that I can detect in his music. In other words, he deliberately shielded himself from the extremely popular music of his day. He had to be exposed to [I]some[/I] goyish music, since he performed at folk concerts etc. but apparently he made it his business to "protect his ears" from other sounds.

This is not to be taken as an endorsement of Carlebach. Again, Chabad niggunim as well as niggunim of other Rebbes (I highly recommend the two Skulener tapes - gorgeous niggunim, and Modsitz and Shenker niggunim) are top of the list. If one is to listen to other music in addition, I suppose you can make a list of what should take precedence over what. Experiment. Listen to the first three London Pirechei tapes. Wow! Those are classics, with an obvious Yiddishe taam. And there are others. Upgrading should be our goal.

Bittul 01-24-2002 03:46 PM

Source for Jewish Music
Just wanted to make clear, in a new thread so everyone would be able to see it, the source for the Lubavitch attitude to music.

Please look in the beginning of Sefer Hanigunim. There is a Sichah of the Frierdike Rebbe about Nigun as an introduction.

The Frierdike Rebbe explains that the composer of a song puts his Nefesh in to the song. So that when we listen to a song, we are affected by the Nefesh of the composer.

That means, that when you listen to a song composed by the Rebbe, you are affected by the Rebbe's Neshamah. When you listen to a song composed by a Chassid, you are affected by that Chassids Neshamah. And on the other side, when you listen to music composed by a non-Jew, even a classical composer, and even if a Jewish band is playing that music, you are affected by that non-Jews soul, which is probably not very beneficial to a Tayere Iddishe Neshamah.

tova 01-24-2002 09:49 PM

Are you saying that the reason Napolean's march, for example is good because the Rebbe changed it and elevated it? And that only a Rebbe has the power to change a Niggun? And what about the Rebbe's Niggunim for his Kapitel every year, composed by Chassidim and not the Rebbe, which category does it fall under? A Niggun or just a Jewish song?

Bittul 01-25-2002 12:57 PM

Whether it's a Niggun or a song, I wouldn't be able to say. I would imagine they are Niggunim, though, especially those that were sung before the Rebbe.

As far as Napoleon's March, it is definitely because the Rebbeim changed it. Which is the same as what happenned with the French National Anthem, the Marseillaise, which the Rebbe sang and thereby changed to a Niggun.

This is pure hearsay, but I heard that the Rebbeim actually gave permission to certain Chassidim such as Reb Asher Nikolayever to listen to non-Jewish songs and use them for Niggunim. I would imagine that would mean the Rebbeim felt them capable of both not being affected by the songs, and being able to use the songs for Kedushah. Again, as I wrote, this is just hearsay. If anyone knows more about this, please post.

Jude 01-27-2002 10:08 AM

In Zevin's Chassidic Tales, vol. 1 p.153-154, he tells the story of Reb Leib Sarah's who sensed there was a certain special soul in a town in Hungary. He went there and found a boy of about 8 years of age, dressed in rags and taking care of geese. The boy was the son of a widow, and R' Leib Sarah's asked his mother whether he could take care of the boy. She agreed and he brought the boy to R' Shmelke of Nikolsberg.

He told R' Shmelke: I have brought you a lofty soul whose source in heaven is the Heichal Ha'Negina, I hope you will make of it what it needs to become.

The gooseherd grew up in R' Shmelke's home and all the melodies and shepherd songs he knew, he made holy. The sifrei Kabbala explain that all the tunes in the world originate in the Heichal Ha'Negina. The sitra achra knows no melodies, nor knows the taste of joy, since it is the source of melancholy. Only through the sin of Adam did certain stray sparks fall into kelipa. The job of the [B]tzaddik[/B] is to elevate those sparks of negina that have gone astray.

For ex. the gooseherd knew a song like this:

Forest, forest, how big you are!
Rose, oh rose, how far you are!
If only the forest was not so vast,
the rose would be nearer to me.
If someone would take me
out of the woods,
Together, o rose, we'd be.

He used the same tune and sang it as follows:

Galus, o galus, how long you are,
Hashem, Hashem how far You are!
If only the galus was not so vast,
Then Hashem would be nearer to me.
Is Someone would take us
out of it soon,
Together, Hashem, we'd be.

The gooseherd grew up to be a tzadik and sweet singer, R' Yitzchok Aisik Taub, known as the Kaliver Rebbe.

When R' Naftali of Ropshitz heard the tune mentioned above for the first time, he said, "Whenever the Kaliver Rebbe sings it, all the worlds above resound; the midas ha'rachamim is aroused, and choirs of malachei rachamim draw near to the palace on high where R' Leib Sarah's lives to do him honor. They chant, "Blessed is the one who brought us this precious soul!"

bored770 02-11-2002 10:50 AM

I'm telling u from personal experiance that non Jewish music has a very bad affect on a person, they way they talk, act etc. BH i have don't listen to it anymore, and have found the way I act has changed as well.Whatever tune Jewish music is sung too I does not have an affect on u like non Jewish music does.

Jac 02-11-2002 11:42 AM

And if the Jewish music is of a non-Jewish tune?

Bittul 02-11-2002 12:17 PM

Then the non-Jewish music, having been composed by a non-Jew, would affect you Neshamah with the thoughts and soul of a non-Jew.

Jac 02-11-2002 12:19 PM

Does that make it as wrong as listening to non-Jewish music?
I suppose this rules out half of Jewish music in the world.

Jude 02-11-2002 03:29 PM

I assume that non-Jewish music put to pesukim has to be better than non-Jewish music with lyrics that we'd blush to say in front of the Rebbe.

On the other hand, I would blush when playing certain Jewish music in front of the Rebbe too, you know the kind - where the words and the music bear no relationship to one another, and you're literally embarrassed for the holy words of the pesukim!

Still, the holiness of the words has to make a positive impact, I would think!

CheBraccia 02-13-2002 02:45 AM

The fact that Jewish music has developed so much in recent years and it is no longer only that boring violin tune is a very positive change.

Now there is an alternative for those who always said that Jewish music is very booring and poor. There is now Jewish music in all styles and languages which makes it competitive to those who are not die-hard fans of secular music.

I personally never listened to non-Jewish music - I HATED IT!!! I am happy there is now Jewish music with a little more beat to it.

About secular songs without words, I once heard someone say it's even worse than the famous non-Jewish songs, because you don't realize how bad it is (you think it's without words so it doesn't matter)... When it really gives you all the thoughts/ideas the person making the song had.

On a side note, take a look at names of some of the wordless songs and you'll see they aren't as inoccent as they seem!

Clip 02-13-2002 07:56 PM

<<If you "connect with the soul" of the person who wrote a song, it goes without saying that nobody wants to be connected to the author of a non-Jewish song. But I still don't understand quite what a non-Jewish song is. Is it because the person who wrote it is not a Jew? What if a Jew, and a frum one at that, were to write a song whose lyrics totally didn't personify the Jewish way of life? And what if they were to compose music to those lyrics? In essence, is that not a Jewish song? After all, both the words and the tune were composed by a Jew!>>

I hate to be redundant, but I'm still wondering that ... :confused: :confused: :confused:

ChachChach 02-13-2002 07:59 PM

the problem with music is that sometimes there is no clear cut answer...its all basically gray areas....

CheBraccia 02-13-2002 10:19 PM

I think everyone more or less knows what non-Jewish music is, songs with secular lyrics (regardless of who sings it). Or songs composed by non-Jews even without words but the ideas behind the song are secular (as are many times aperant from the name of the song).

A Jewish song, means a song with Jewish words, either from the Torah or ideas which are positive for religious people (self improvement).

A Jew singing a song that is not to the Jewish way of life would not be considered a Jewish song.

Someone who truely want's to listen to non-Jewish music, will always find an excuse to do so...

Fundamentalist 02-14-2002 04:19 PM

Having been on the 'shlichus road' for quite a while i have come to see the advantage of the 'oif simchas' etc. type of music. To tell a kid who is starting on the road to be frum to cut all music and listen only to chassidish nigunim is very hard. Because lets face it, even Piamenta has songs with non-Jewish sources. To wean the kids off non-Jewish stuff to more Jewish stuff like oif simchas is a lot easier, and eventually, if the kids become fully frum, they will realise themselves what is 'kosher.'

Bittul 02-14-2002 04:23 PM

fund, I don't think this discussion is specifically about what we should preach to others. The idea is, a Lubavitcher should listen to and appreciate Jewish music that is pure. It is meant to move you. Most music is only meant to entertain.

Chach, why is it gray? We should only listen to Jewish music. Preferably, Chassidishe Nigunim, and if that's a little too much for you, music composed by a Jew.

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