Friday, November 17, 2006

More Dei'ah veDibur

Here's part II of Binyomin Rabinowitz's Dei'ah veDibur interview with three chassidic composers. We noted part I here.

Here we brought up the issue of musical arrangements, the musical accompaniment, and we got the impression that the same tune could be done in a Jewish way, so that it would have the proper structure. The exact opposite can be also done. Here too the deterioration is immense . . .

Rabbi Banet: It is like taking a chassidic Jew and dressing him up in street clothes. A Jewish melody has to be fashioned from beginning to end in a Jewish way. Whether it is the musical overture to a song, or the transitions, or whatever, we have to make sure that the whole thing is a warm Jewish niggun and that the accompaniment and the musical arrangement do not steal away the song. There are those who go too far in this matter, and whenever foreign and dissonant tunes are brought in from the outside, it causes a lot of damage and degeneration.
And this:
Rabbi Kalish: I would put it like this: Music in our times is a very strong pointer to the character of a bochur. Especially in the teenage years when young people are looking for someone to identify with, to imitate, to look up to (and I do not need to add that any identification with and desire to be like people who are not gedolei Torah is wrong — and definitely when it involves people who are not so positive, to put it mildly).

When you see a bochur who is drawn to music which is not genuinely Jewish and whose notes are foreign to the spirit of Jewish tradition — and it has, under the heading of `chassidic music,' notes which are very foreign indeed and so far from Judaism that they lack even the faintest scent of it, but rather the contrary — then this is the first warning signal. It means that you need to examine the tapes that he has in his closet, because it shows what company he wants to affiliate himself with or has already affiliated himself with, choliloh.

It is the society he is in that has led him to this—and the minute that he wants to be part of it, he will adopt their music, since that alien sound is a clear indicator of that society. Being or wanting to affiliate with that society is manifested in all kinds of external factors, including the dress code, and the song is another unmistakably clear signal.

It is absolutely clear that pagan, street music, pushes a person when he goes outside. It is a fast mover and a social force that traps one to evil, to the streets.

I feel that I am not saying anything new, it is something simple that everyone knows — even though I cannot point to any specific bochur who went down because he listened to a song that was alien to us, because I cannot possibly know what led to what. But I can point to those for whom it was the first signal of their getting into bad company, and it was the factor that expedited their continued deterioration. Now, that is a clear answer to your question about the danger of idol worship, and the idolization of singers and composers.
I assume this is the reason why Kalish switched to cheesy '70's style horn rock arrangement for his music on/about the Belzer "P'sach Shaarei Shamayim" release.