Sunday, August 29, 2004

Hirhurim Mutarim!

Hirhurim on "Contemporary Jewish Music":
Some of the best and nicest Jewish bloggers are the Jewish Music bloggers. Ever since I started following blogs I have seen the JM-bloggers railing against certain musicians who appear to be ruining Jewish music. As a consumer rather than a producer of Jewish music, allow me to respectfully voice a different opinion...
...I listen to music for two reasons - to inspire me and to entertain me. Inspiring music is of the Carlebach or Regesh variety (maybe even hazzanus) - frequently slow, the tune fits the words, everything comes together and uplifts the soul. Entertaining music is anything that entertains me. Many years ago, it would have been Billy Joel or the Police. Nowadays, it is only Jewish music but really anything that sounds good and does not have filthy or stupid lyrics. If the tune does not fit the lyrics, I don't care. I just want a decent song in my head to relax me. I'd pull out an old Billy Joel tape except his songs are almost all about peritzus or narrishkeit. I listen to this kind of music when I'm driving tired or am simply trying to relax after an exhausting week. I don't care if the melody is simple or anything like that. I would not even notice if the song is slightly off-key...
...Music that is fun and relaxing - and does not have filthy or idiotic lyrics - is OK in my book. Cultural biases about what kind of music is entirely unacceptable (as a child of the 70s and 80s, I find disco beats and electric guitar solos to be offensively "goyish," particularly at weddings) are just a way of old people like me being old-fuddy-duddies and complaining about kids today and their loud music.
The commentors on this post raise a number of potential halachik issues.

1) One person raises the issue of the prohibition against “shirei agavim.” (I think his classification of all rock music as such is mistaken). He also asserts that it’s “better to put J lyrics (but not pesukim) to classy Gospel tunes.” This is something that is more clearly problematic. Finally, he raises the issue of zecher l’mikdash and whether or not it is permissible to listen to music b’zman hazeh.

2) Another commenter raises the issue of "assuni banecha k'kinor".

3) A third party asks if there are any halachik restrictions on listening to Carlebach music.

In response, Simcha writes:
Posts on halakhah require more preparation than this one had. B"n sometime this weekend I'll address the halakhic issues (rightly) raised in these comments.
In the interest of helping out a fellow blogger, here are some sources on these issues.
With regard to Shirei Agavim:
Krach Shel Romi
Yechave Da’as (vol.2:5)
Tzitz Eliezer (vol.13:12)

With regard to listening to religious music:
Sefer Hachassidim (238) (There are varying versions of the text. It’s in the Mossad Rav Kook edition.)
Iggeros Moshe (Yoreh Deah 2:111)

On listening to music nowadays:
Sotah 48A
Gittin 7A
(See Rashi, Tosafos, and the Meiri there. Also see the Hagahos Rema on the Mordechai).

Rambam (Hilchos Ta’anis 5:14)
Note: There are three different ways to interpret Rambam’s position, Tur, Ma’aseh Rokeach, and Kneses Hagedola.

Shulchan Aruch (Hilchos Tisha B’av 560:3) (There’s a machlokes between the Mechaber and the Rema.)

Iggeros Moshe (Orach Chaim 166 and Orach Chayim vol. 3:87)
Az Nidberu (vol.8:58)

On singing pesukim:
Sanhedrin 101A
See Rashi and Iggeros Moshe (Yoreh Deah vol.2:142)

With regard to Carlebach music:
Iggeros Moshe Even Haezer 96 is alleged by some to have been about Carlebach, but it does not name him.. The teshuva is titled: “Bidvar Nigunim Sheasa Adam Kasher Sheachar Zman Niskalkel V’sani Shumaneih Im Yesh L’nagnam Al Chasunos."