Am I Getting Into The Groove?

This essay is not going to discuss the kabbalistic outlook on secular music or its effects. I leave that for others greater than I. I realize that the topic of listening to secular music is a very touchy topic with people. It can get heated. I am just going to share my own thoughts regarding the subject of listening to our past-music.

Going into Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s can be a trip down memory lane. I am guaranteed to hear some songs from my past. In fact, many of them I can still sing the words to, when I hear the music. What happens when a person hears music from their past? We know that the mind (our memory) keeps most things in storage. It is next to impossible to completely rid the memory of stored information. Forgetting something doesn’t mean it is erased, just misplaced or buried. As the music flows into our ears, the mind recalls the previous times when we heard that particular song. The music is a trigger for thoughts from the past. Whether it was a tznius time or not, kosher or treif. Granted, not every song we ever heard is associated with an “unkosher” time; however my personal jukebox doesn’t know how to differentiate between the two. This I see as one of the biggest problems with listening to secular music from the past.

The next major problem is more than obvious. The words and/or themes to most present music and probably past music would probably be considered “treif”. Whether they are curses or themes about sex, drugs and crime. Call me a prude; we are supposed to be an Am Kodesh. Neivel peyh(cursing) is considered terrible by Chazal. We can say well “I only listen to the music, not the words”, however the words are put into our memory banks and they will affect our subconscious as well as conscious. We can have all the cognitive dissonance about this nuance all we want. It is a fact. Radioactive waste pollutes the environment. No one wants to drink toxic water so why to we listen to toxic words and themes. Think about it, how many “religious” people who listen to secular music, would ever look at pornography or the like? Is it any different if it is set to nice music? Would we even have a thought to think it is permitted?

Now with all this said, I realize how hard it is to stop listening to secular music. For me, it was a very difficult task. I had been to many rock concerts in the past and I loved music. I still do. Baruch Hashem I found very good Jewish music that can stimulate me in the right ways.

I am not advocating that people should give up their musical instruments or their love for music. The opposite. Channel it into kedusha.

The question we need to always ask ourselves is: Does this action bring me closer to Hashem?

75 comments on “Am I Getting Into The Groove?

  1. There is a lot of acceptable secular music that cannot bring me memories of “Before” because it is younger than the time I have been shomeret shabbat. Or I only heard it “After”. There is also quite a lot that I listen to that is from foreign cultures and in languages I don’t know. I do get the translations so I make sure it is not obsene or avoda zorah. But, as I indicated, I would love to have really good jewish music in styles that I like as my first choice.

  2. I think that we can make a clal.
    Music brings back your past: then you have a shila.
    Music is simply something you appreciate: enjoy.
    Few people are in category 2 but most musicians are.

  3. David,
    My “flame” was really for those who were saying that any music that sounded like anything not straight out of the shtetl, including these musicians, were on the “Forbidden Because It Is Not Traditional Enough” list. I take the need for tradition in style (as opposed to halacha) with a boulder of salt. I think we can all agree that we haven’t a clue as to our true musical heritage, which will be revived only when Moshiach comes (soon, please).

    I do thank you for the suggestions. (I have some already, and will investigate the rest.) I firmly believe in shameless plugs, and in disclosure thereof, you have acted honorably and ethically. So I would add The Light Peddler’s Band. Gentlemen, I’m sorry, it is all women, and made for women. Give it to your sisters, wife, mother, neices….full disclosure, one of the women is a friend.

    Now to the members of these (and other frum bands): Please don’t stop at just one or two albums! Stay creative! Listening to the same songs is boring! I’ve been BT for about thirty years, so the need for new material to hear is acute, I may like a band, but not the same songs all the time. Thank you.

  4. Sarah,

    Even those who don’t like niggunim and klezmer have tremendously varying likes and dislikes. I would try some of the following to see what fits your tastes (some are more well known, others perhaps a bit more obscure)Caveat, some or all of these bands will occasionally throw in a niggun or two):

    Moshav Band
    Adi Rand
    Ein Od Bilvado
    Diaspora Yeshiva
    8th Day
    Blue Fringe
    Pey Dalid (shameless plug, my brother recorded the album)

  5. And the suggestions for someone who does not like nigunim/klezmer style music at all are??????? I guess many of you think I should live in silence… Or would you “permit” me to listen to old Sefardi tunes? Okay, now that the flame is a bit calmed (Only a bit), I would remind you that what is right for one person is not going to fit everyone. A person does not deserve “demerits” for not following your chumrahs. It is presumptuous of you to suggest that others fit into your mold. They may have theirs own private chumrahs that you could not keep.

    If we take nothing new because “that’s not how Grandpa did it” we would all still be living like Avraham and Sarah…in tents, without computers to write messages like these!!

  6. Jacob,

    Great post! This thread has motivated me to shed more of my music collection. I’m not prepared to go all the way yet, but one day . . .

  7. Yakov,

    It sounds as if there are several messages weaved into your observations.

    Let’s say that serious sin does have “a modicum of redeeming social value”. That could likely be backed up by kabbalistic works (I don’t know which sefer, saif or siman) that talks about sparks of kedusha in (even) such behavior.

    However, in addition to such material being way too esoteric for perhaps any member of this forum, there appears be a price, and a steep one, to achieve that “warm human spot” through seemingly egregious rituals.

    Pop historians (for lack of a better term) postulate that a reason for rock n roll’s success in capturing the imagination of the youth is that for the “first time”, there was a musical genre that the young could claim for their own and not need to borrow from the elders. There’s likely a lot of truth to this but what was left out of this equation is the meaning behind “their own”.

    ‘Twixt 12 and 20 can be a very confusing and frustrating period in any person’s life. The adult aspect of adolesence wants to take their rightful liberties while simultaneously requiring (if not demanding) the care, nurturing and support reserved for younger children.

    Does rock n roll celebrate the liberties as an adult but also embrace the absence of the accompanying responsibility since the youth are really still children?

    Is it merely a coincidence that the 1950s and the birth of RnR followed the turbulent 20 year period of the Great Depression and WWII where the youth perhaps like never before had to miss out either by going to work to literally prevent the family from starving and then join the armed forces to keep the earth free? Was there a sense of entitlement going on and did it lead to an increased decadence?

    If your suggesting while not condoning the musical habits as a last resort to achieve that “warm spot”, does that theory dovetail with the above observation on RnR’s unprecedented and unique call to the adolescents? So prior to this, for thousands of years, adolescents, deprived of that “warm spot” were subject to nothing but a gray and bland 8 years of arrested development? Today, do we hear much of child prodigies that the past produced such as Mozart and (l’havdil much) the Ramchal?

    Was another message of yours a “b’dieved” one indicating that we have to make the best of it since the damage is already done and perhaps some good, despite the regretful trappings, could come out of this?

    There’s certainly something commendable about searching and seeking out the sparks of goodness amongst those which may seem too far gone and that’s been a trademark of many Gedolei B’Yisroel and that’s perhaps THE basis of kiruv rechokim as well.

    But it seems all to easy and as seamless as a Billy Joel classic to lose that perspective of prices to pay and open the door for ourselves. What’s the aitza? That the youth of the Western world should limit their listening pleasures to Gregorian Chants and (lehavdil again) the frum only Stoliner nigunim? This post was only meant to be an observation, not a panacea. However, my father-in-law loves singling Stoliner nigunim at simchas so I gotta put a plug in for him!

    I hope I was able to coherently provide some historical perspective on the dubious origins of a medium that has affected the environment of our golus host nations. Reb Alter the author of this blog (not the Purim musician) and his Rabbeim is sending the message, at the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious and square fun-hating curmudgeon that the stakes are only higher for own kehila.

  8. I also thought the following comment of Jacob’s was right on the money. “Now, of course even taking on Shmiras Shabbos, Limud Torah and Ohl Malchus Shomayim, there will be always be challenges to overcome regarding “sorting out” and judging people based on also seemingly infantile criteria. Too “yeshivish”, too “modern” and other labels ad infinitum ready to reduce another individual’s personal and sublime Avodas Hashem into a neat and compact package of monosyllabic social engineering”

  9. Jacob -Thanks for your feedback and for your further thought-provoking observations.

    I concur that the more subtle and poppier music may in fact be more insidious than the explicitly Satanic, but I still have to say the the poppier lighter music has to be at least marginally better for the soul because it can convey joy and happiness whereas the heavier music only conveys anger and nastiness.

    I think for some reason of C.S. Lewis (a born-again Orthodox Christian) who observed in “Surpised by Joy,” his spiritual autobiography, that the catamites in his English boarding school, were the only touch of warmth and human-ness in the entire school. Even if he abhored their practices -which he did, he saw that even serious sin has some modicum of redeeming value. I’m obviously not arguing for homosexuality (nor was he) and I’m not arguing for the innocuousness of softer poppier rock, but I would argue that in contemporary American teenager’s lives and in the lives of many young adults, rock and roll (of all sorts) may well be the only warm, human spot they have -the only bit of empathy and joy they get -even when its angry, there’s empathy; and that’s a very sad reality, -but extinguish the music and they’d have nothing joyful, nothing warm, nothing empathetic. People like us may be more able to put it away (and as I wrote, its a big struggle for me). . . but it can’t be taken away (I know no one here is advocating this)from teenagers or even secular adults without substituting something else in its place. Could Jewish music be the right segue? (to Hashem and Judaism) I know that in an above post, I wrote how awful Jewish music often is, but I don’t think that this is necessarily so. Purim eve I saw the Piamenta band, and I must say, they rocked. Maybe we need more Matisyahus? I don’t know the answer -because as I wrote above, the music does carry a message aside from the lyrics.

  10. While in college, I was fortunate to hook up with a chevra of intriguing people who were thirsty to learn more about Yiddishkeit. Some had previously zero connection with any Judaism and some went to Modern Orthodox co-ed high schools.

    Once college was over, many of us went on to ba’al t’shuva b’tei medrash, Aliyah, etc while a couple of others didn’t feel like continuing down that path. One of them (a moderdox high school graduate) a very intelligent and analytical person was visibly straying. On one occasion while in this individual’s grad school apartment, REM’s “Losing My Religion” made it’s unwanted (by me) appearance on the FM waves and this individual responded “wow, that one really speaks to me”.

    At the risk of overanalzying this incident, and making sweeping generalizations, I can’t help but speculate that a microcosmic event occured indicating the power of “rock n roll”.

    Here we have a bright, well read person influenced and seduced into magnifying already present feelings by an outfit who by time-honored standards are likely way below average in both musicianship and poetry writing.

    Despite lackluster credentials, Rock n Roll somehow has been able to get its messages across while artfully dodging the prerequisites of what historically constituted higher thought such as reason, intellectual clarity and the like.

    I’m not enough of a psychologist or musicologist to construct a theory that lives up to the demands stated above on how this happened, but mysteriously it’s been successful in dumbing down and dulling an entire civilization. And to be proactive to potential replies, yes I did listen to a lot of it.

    The argument can be made that since it’s inception, this medium provided the soundtrack and fuel for every subsequent counterculture movement which on the most part proved harmful to the ideals of B’nai Torah.

    And perhaps even greater reason for concern is it’s overall cynicism towards its target audience. The marketers and packagers know exactly what they’re doing: convincing the masses to surrender their assets for low-brow entertainment and the crassest forms of commercialism. Hate to come across as sanctimonious, but is there a valid point for disagreement here?

    Back to a previous point: Maybe a case can be made that some aspects of the 1960s “revolution” was actually beneficial to the ba’al t’shuva movement and Torah communities in general and we should invite a qualified inidividual to explore this idea for BeyondBT but it’s also beyond the scope of this post.

  11. “The Everly Brothers, Fabian, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, and Sandra Dee were just clean-cut Trojan horses which led us down the slippery slope to Slipknot, Marilyn Manson….”

    Wow, Yakov that quip was so on target and the other comment about sorting people out based on music tastes was a painful reminder of how I spent too many precious days of my youth as well.

    Also, many indeed are easily deceived that “lighthearted” pop by the likes of Billy Joel can seamlessly enter realms of the “sitra achra” (the “other”, that is, darker side) and could a case be made that it’s even more potentially dangerous than the likes of M.Manson since the latter at least can’t be accused of false advertising?

    Now, of course even taking on Shmiras Shabbos, Limud Torah and Ohl Malchus Shomayim, there will be always be challenges to overcome regarding “sorting out” and judging people based on also seemingly infantile criteria. Too “yeshivish”, too “modern” and other labels ad infinitum ready to reduce another individual’s personal and sublime Avodas Hashem into a neat and compact package of monosyllabic social engineering.

    So while one can and should celebrate kicking that particular habit, one should not be lulled into a false sense of security that the bad midos are instantly washed away.

    However, removal of an element (an too powerful one), not siginicant for one’s physical survival and which inevitably will include material antithetical (to be polite) to what we’re striving for is likely a superlative place to start the improvement!

  12. Yakov,

    It’s true that there are some suspect songs, even on Lite stations, that have no place going into Frum ears, but not that many. It beats listening to certain stations where almost all of the songs might have some offensive lyrics (included cursing and “street slang”.

    But…maybe I’m changing a bit as we speak…my cousin told me about “JM in the AM” streaming on the web…guess what I’m listening to right now @ work?

  13. Martin,

    If you enjoy adult contemporary soft rock and don’t feel ready to shed it, it isn’t the most imperative thing to do. One must prioritize.

    Soft rock, like all pop music, has some nice, relatively wholesome songs -but there are enough that are less wholesome to make it suspect and which may make one consider easing away from it. I’m not one to give counsel on this, for as I said, I still myself love and listen to much music which isn’t entirely kosher, and I am only slowly and progessively moving away from it.

  14. There was an article a while back in the Jewish Observer (I think) that pointed to our galut (exile) as the cause of the imperfect state of Jewish music and to our geula (redemption) as the cure. Even so, improvements can be made now.

  15. Bob,

    I’m so used to what I listen to now, but if a station that played Jewish music streamed on the web, of course I’d listen. But, I’d also listen to my Lite station(s)…I work in an office with 3 others, and neither of them are Jewish. But if I really enjoyed what I heard, I would have to say that I would gradually listen to the Lite stations less.


  16. I can’t speak for Yakov; I haven’t cared much for new popular music since 1975. Anyway…

    When it’s appropriate to listen to music, wouldn’t it be best to listen to Jewish music of the highest possible quality instead of any musical alternative?

  17. Bob & Yakov,

    True, the music you described sounds so much like “acid rock” or in a similar vein. What about what us 40-something Frum men & women who listen to AC (as I described above)? I don’t find too many of those beats you described, as well as the noise levels you describe. Your post seems to be talking about what teens listen to today, not adults.


  18. R’ Nachman of Breslov said that a person can’t maintain two thoughts in his mind at the same time. Turning then to music, the world of frum Jewish musicians needs to find a way to create moving, memorable, well-produced, Torah-based material that will crowd out the bad stuff from our everyday consciousness. Some music with the right stuff already exists, but, like anything else of value, it has to be sought out.

    Look at any list of great Jewish composers, lyricists, or performers; it goes on and on. Lamentably, most of these people are/were not particularly Torah-oriented. But now combine our G-d given talent with a genuine Jewish point of view and our music would have unlimited potential.

    Anybody out there who could fill this need has a mission to do so.

  19. And still more: the damage to our hearing that it causes –the outrageous volumes at which music is played –even (especially?)at weddings; and still more: the way it affects one’s nervous system –elevating heart-rates, for example; the social aggravation it causes: I happen to have neighbors who blast latino rap and soul music at all hours and who belligerently refuse to defuse it. Now this must be my fault for moving in –for as a friend of mine once said, “I don’t want to share a wall with anyone who isn’t an Asian graduate student,” but frankly, I think that it should be illegal to have any stereo system with a knob which goes above “4” until one is over 35, educated, employed, married with children, and licensed by the state subject to revocation. (I only qualify under “employed” status myself.) Spinal Tap’s “11” knob would be death-penalty level contraband.

    Music was not meant to be electrified –for humans were not meant sustain such extreme volumes, and it was not meant to be had just for the flick of a switch –otherwise the forbidden fruit would have not been an apple, but would be in pod-form: white, shiny, petite, and made by Apple.

    In the eighties I can recall being very provoked by the PMRC –a group led by Tipper Gore who advocated warning labels on music –I was a natural first-amendment guy. I can recall being bemused by documentaries showing Christians burning Elvis records. It is cosmically cruel for me to have come to the point where I can acknowledge that the Christians were right. Rock and Roll has caused enormous social damage –and The Everly Brothers, Fabian, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, and Sandra Dee were just clean-cut Trojan horses which led us down the slippery slope to Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, the Sex Pistols (who admittedly –I used to relish), Limp Bizkit, NWA, Eminem, Slayer, and Christina Aguillera. Rock was the primary means by which promiscuity, perversion, and drug abuse were mainstreamed into society. And it has always gotten progressively harder and edgier.

    There have been some enormously talented lyricists, songwriters, musicians, singers, and songwriters who created beautiful, inspiring and even profound secular music. There have been plenty of less talented ones who have also made fun music –I would like to keep that music –but it is very difficult to sort these out: even a well-written, happy, feel-good pop song, such as, “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel –is a recorded plea for a Catholic school girl to give up on her faith and cede her virginity –to Billy. Do I really want to find myself singing along to that? Also, the majority of rock and roll –and even of much of my favorite rock, consists of really bad, banal, trite, and vulgar lyrics set to simplistic, repetitive, unskilled music –utterly unchallenging aesthetically. Very few lyrics could stand on their own as even medicocre poetry, let alone with the great poetry of the ages.

    When I think of the vast reservoir of inane pop lyrics that I have almost instant recall of at the smallest snippet of a song, I mourn my wasted neurons, even as I glibly bleat some silly eighties tune which will remain running though my head for days. (For the past few days –“traveling in a fried-out combie –on a hippie trail, head full of zombie . . .”) Much better that I should have had mishnayos and the Mishneh Torah blasting at fourteen than the Misfits, Morrisey, and the Dead Milkmen. Still, it was fun –and somehow I emerged and survived –and I was never into the R&R lifestyle, but what a waste of time and brain-space! (I’m going to leave this paragraph intact even as I realize that despite my semi-pseudo-remorse, I’m still referencing and name-dropping musically in a typically teenage superficial, elitist, pretentious and ostentatious way. For this is the rub: I still love the music and it is part of me, and I still ashamedly admit at some level to sorting people out by their music tastes or lack thereof. A sad self-commentary.)

    I’ve become more discriminating about what I listen to –but I haven’t given it all up, and I’m not confident that I could do so. Like others here, I feel that for better or for worse, the music has permanently fused itself into my soul, and that to attempt to extirpate it entirely would be too violent a measure –perhaps killing the patient. But I’ll say this: too much Jewish music is lame and dull and unchallenging musically. To me, substituting recorded Jewish music for recorded rock/pop is like substituting methadone for heroin or sugar for methadone: it just ain’t gonna do the trick, and the object should be to “kick” entirely –as even sugar is terrible for you. (I’m not denying the virtue of live, unamplified music at all.) Perhaps I’m just still an addict in denial. Good Shabbos.

  20. Nyet, nyet, this thread is a threat to Joan Jett! I still love rock and roll, and I still listen –yet less, less ardently, and more selectively and skeptically, and I see that ultimately it may be imperative to kick the habit. I concur that it is detrimental in many of the respects others have described –as well as in others that they haven’t.

    Obviously the music is the drug-delivery device, the moral-bypass system for noxious lyrics and subject matter. It is the sugar coating on the bitter pill, so that even ostensibly upright adults will acknowledge –“I know that it’s all about sex –but I just love the music!” Without the music itself, the content wouldn’t go down.

    The beat of rock and roll is invariably sexual, and creates the addiction to the whole package: lyrics, moods, and the idolatrous adulation and imitation of rock stars and of their lifestyles –Moloch may equal Madonna. The beat is hypnotic and bypasses everything to go right to the beastial behayma-ish brain, fuse, grow, and metastasize. The musical form itself may be more morally destructive than the lyrics, because McLuhan-like, the music itself has a message –which is admittedly usually congruent with the lyrics.

    More, it is the purchasing of such music that enables rock stars to maintain such lifestyles. When you buy, say, a Guns and Roses CD (pretend that they’re contemporary), your money feeds their appetite for destruction, enables them to further glorify and promote this lifestyle, and you will share some modicum of complicity in band members’ car crashes, hotel trashes, overdoses, and even in their debauching of seventeen year old girls after the show for years to come. (What a bargain for just $15.99!) Even if you were listening to and buying even to the most happy, spiritual pop music I know of: Bob Marley’s, back when he was alive, you were subsidizing his drug abuse, promotion of drug use, and his cheating on his wife.

    I mentioned mood. In addition to the sexual beat, much music is poisonous mood-wise. Anger, aggression, destructiveness and depression are all conveyed by much music –even without the lyrics. People –especially teenagers, tend to envelop themselves in music that reinforces their mood –that they feel “speaks” to them –but which ultimately validates and magnifies their angry, depressed, nihilistic view of the world –and when the music is fused to lyrics that are angry, violent, nihilistic, depressed, sexual, the packaging is even more potent and persuasive. And when these kids see that these rockers have money, adulation, sex, drugs etc: they want the same things. Like someone mentioned earlier –when we listen to the music now, we restimulate and evoke old memories and feelings. When we sing along with songs with unwholesome content of any sort –musical or lyrical, which goes against what we believe is ethical and true, we subtly create or enhance a tension in our mind, soul, and body. We’re not necessarily, and not even likely, to rush out and indulge in treif behavior, but that subtle tension creates/reinforces a dividedness, an unwholeness in ourselves which may manifest itself in ways we don’t or can’t discern. Even if we’re not kids anymore and can listen without noticeable harm to ourselves, by listening we also endorse, support, and validate music and musicians who have had a terrible moral influence on society.

    On top of all this is the general addiction people these days have to music –of any type. We play it perpetually: at home, in the car, on the subway or bus. It’s in the supermarket and the restaurant, and we’ve gotten so that many of us cannot bear to have silence. Many of us cannot bear to be alone with our thoughts. We use the music as an introspection-blocker, as a thought-obstructor, as a feeling-magnifier and also as a feeling-stultifier and mood-transformer. This omnipresent auditory overload itself, even were all the music we consume spiritually healthy, would have negative consequences society-wide due to the lack of self-awareness, thought and feeling that it enables.

  21. David,

    That is something that doesn’t go togther at all. Disco should be about happy tunes that have nothing to do with Tehillim. If you want to record Tehillim to sound like an AC song, fine, but not where you could dance to it in a disco. Come on!

  22. To me, the setting of verses of Tehillim to thumping 70’s disco beats is offensive. When I hear it, I conjure up dance floor scenes. So, which is worse/better – disco Psalms or a song like “I Can See Clearly Now the Rain Has Gone’?

  23. I am “middle-of-the-road” and clearly have a different hashkafa than Alter Klein, and therefore usually don’t have the same viewpoint as his posts. And I definitely listen to secular music (mostly from ITunes).

    But there is something imortant to consider in his original comment. Often we seperate our life into “Torah things” and “secular things.” The Torah things are kashrut, Shabbos, etc. – and when we have a question we head straight to a rabbi to ask. But we have to remember to seek guidance about other areas as well, or at least reflect sometimes on whether there are things that we are doing that maybe aren’t appropriate for where we are in our frumkeit. (Not judging where other people are or should be, just ourselves.) That doesn’t mean that after such reflection or seeking guidance the answer will be that you have to stop doing whatever it is that you enjoy. But it does mean being honest with yourself and actually making a decision to do or not do something. (“This music that I listen to is consistent with my frum lifestyle” rather than “What music I listen to isn’t relevant to my frumkeit.”)

  24. To DK,

    A few years ago, a study came out which said that listening to classical music makes kids smarter. That being the case, why is it so impossible to believe that a niggun would have some similarly elevating affect on a person’s neshoma?

  25. Another comment on AC music: Many secular songs do NOT talk about love, and are major hits. A typical song which I think is one of the best in the last few years is Train’s “Calling All Angels” which talks about the need for world peace IMO. Styx “Show Me The Way” from the 90’s is also in the same mold. You can take the meaning of the songs and apply it to your own situation…..

  26. Just an idea-

    People now are downloading more and more songs off the internet, so you really can just listen to the 1 or 2 songs on a CD that are appropriate enough. Just get an ipod, and itunes, and pay the 99 cents per song or whatever it is now. Or you could make yourself a mix cd. It’s really not as hard as everyone is making it out to be.

  27. Alan,
    Your comment is an interesting one. I can’t put my ownself on the level of David Hamelech, Yaakov avinu or Shlomo Hamelech when it comes to thoghts of love. They for sure were talking about deep, deep love. I can’t fathom to put the bee gees in that same category. You are 100 percent correct that love has a place in yiddishkeit. Love, not lust.
    Also, if you read one of my earlier comments, it discusses the image portrayed by the secular world today is that of either “fairy tale” love or “cheap” love. Either one is a distortion of true family life. This sets a impossible to fulfill dream which then cause distortion in a relationship.
    We have divorce rates in the world of over 50%. We live in a disposable culture. The music of today for the most part is a reflection of that or actually sets the tone. I didn’t say all music. How many people are willing to buy a CD and only listen to 2 out of 12 songs?
    Kol tuv

  28. Actually you get more hits on google with “secular poetry hebrew medieval”. So look into that.

  29. I’d just like to point out that many great Rabbeim of the past composed secular songs, including (off the top of my head) R’ Yehudah haLevi and R’ Shlomo Ibn Gvirol.

    A quick perusal of “Secular songs medieval hebrew” on the Web or in the library will make this apparent. Especially in Sefarad, most secular songs and poetry had to do with themes of love, warfare, and wine.

    For my second point, since when is love not a Jewish ideal? There are people falling in love all over the Tanach and Gemara. Sometimes it turns out well, sometimes not – just like in real life. What about Shir hashirim? David hamelech? Yaakov and Rachel? It seems like this fallacy of “Whatever non-Jews do must be anti-Jewish by definition” is getting to extreme absurdity when we start claiming that “Secular” music and Love have no place in yiddishkeit.

  30. Dear Martin,
    Jewish law requires that perspective bride and groom see each other before the wedding. They must have some attraction to each other.
    Regarding falling in love. All I was saying is that you can’t “fall in love” with someone you just met. It is falling in “lust”. Love doesn’t come cheaply. It is built after years of waking up in the nights together to treat sick kids, dealing with major emotional issues, etc…
    Do some people recognize who their soulmate is right away? Of course. I and my wife like to think so. However, the confirmation of knowing it is true comes with the years(ie: the love being built and strengthened). People need to express their feelings more, just in the right manner. For the most part,the love songs/hollywood don’t talk about finding your bashert. They talk about love/lust at 1st sight which only cheapens which is holy.
    It reminds me of people who say I love fish. No they don’t. They love to eat fish. If they loved them, they would watch them swim in the ocean or a lake.
    Kol tuv

  31. Martin Fleischer’s question about where to draw the line is an unexpectedly loaded one.

    It’s often very difficult to internalize ideas of hashkafa when it’s presented in a pedantic and preachy manner.

    I think where we draw the line regarding “the lighter stuff” is consistent with the question of how much do we want to invest “spiritually”?

    With the investment of distancing ourselves from pop culture and other mediums often termed as “pas nisht” for now, will we “cash in” later in life? How about in the next one?

    At the risk of annoying fellow forum members with this idea; but not to means being remiss in failing to share an intriguing thought.

    The language of a people is a blueprint for their culture. A rav of mine once pointed out that one of the Eskimo languages includes 20 word for snow. For us, the Lashon Kodesh has multiple words for holiness.

    Conversely as Rabbi Avigdor Miller z”l pointed out, there is no word in Lashon Kodesh for “entertainment”. And I discovered that even in “Modern Hebrew” the only word to describe “fun” which is “kef” is actually Arabic.

    A seemingly insurmountalbe challenge to say the least. At least for me.

    In one example, I do however feel fortunate that any taiveh I had for going out for a beer “with the boys” was taken care of through Shalom Zachors which in essence is meant to share joy with the Ba’al Simcha. It transforms an act of taking into one of giving.

    So whether it’s ball games (with my own ligering passion for the Mets) music, etc, we have in our hands the knowledge to field decisions to enrichen our lives with the substantial things which like many other areas of life come at a price.

    Is the price eschewing pop culture? Not a rav, but my answer would probably be “Am Navon v’Chacham” The word “navon” while often translated as wise is more accurately defined as “discerning”.

    We were given the gift of knowing how to discern the often subtle nuances of what makes a Torah life meaningful and how to make it so.

  32. I just read again what Rabbi Klein said about falling in love not being a Jewish idea. Do you mean to say that if one feels that he/she is falling in love with a potential mate, thatb because we are Frum we should suppress those feelings? Of course, you have to act the proper, Frum way at all times when it comes to relationships before you are married, but what attracts you to your Bashert in the first place, at least most of the time? It’s not like Europe in the 1800’s where you didn’t see your chassan/kallah for the 1st time until the wedding day/night (like the song “Do You Love Me”in “Fiddler On The Roof” says.

  33. Bob,

    I agree (!) I AM a Mets fan!!! Let’s go Mets!

    All kidding aside, since I’ve become more Frum, and more recently, I would say that, subconciously at least, I wonder if certain songs/artists are ok to listen to…but, since it’s mostly background music (in the car, @ work most of the time) I don’t think there is a problem with it. At home and on lunch hour, I have listened to ANY music less & less, and am reading books on Torah and related literature most of the time.

  34. From my perspective, it’s spiritually better to be a Mets fan and not a Yankee fan.

  35. Not ALL of the songs I like are love songs per se….sometimes, it’s a voice and a tune. As far as “non-Torah” values, are we saying that we shouldn’t go to ballgames or watch sports on TV, too, because it has nothing to do with Torah? I know many Frum Jews who do both. I mean, where do we draw the line?

  36. My not-so-informed concept is that during our exile (and because of our exile?) a number of really sublime tunes have been routed down to the nations, often through people whose overall character wasn’t too good. If we can somehow identify and use those tunes that can benefit and not hurt our spiritual side, so much the better. Great rebbeim have done this. Others with the right sensitivities can probably do it, too.

  37. Martin’s comment brings up a good point. He points to the beegees, phil collins, etc. and says how bad can they be. Well, lets not deal with the issue of cursing/obsenity. Lets say they are free from those. Many adult contemporary songs are love songs. They speak of falling in love, etc. “falling in love” is not a jewish idea. We build love over years of raising a family together. Someone who falls in love can just as easily fall out of it.Hollywood per se does a tremendous injustice to the people’s mindsets when they portray love as something simple and cinderella like when it is much more complicated then that. That simple portrayal then causes people to have unrealistic expectations in marriage and that can cause undo stress on a marriage.
    Let’s not continue to pollute ourselves with non torah values.

  38. I would just like to add and clarify, (and to preempt) that the concern with Jews attending events featuring or including secular music was a conncern with other aspects of these gatherings — not the music itself.

  39. Yitz, you wrote,

    “The Frierdike Rebbe [Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch] 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 Neshama. When you listen to a song composed by a Chassid, you are affected by that Chassid’s Neshama. 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-Jew’s soul, which is probably not very beneficial to a Tayere Yiddishe Neshama [precious Jewish soul].

    Absolute insanity. For any western composition, there are twelve notes to pick from at any time. A piece of music is not alive. It has no soul. It is not a living thing, it is a composition that can be drastically changed by the musicians who interepret it as they please. It is brought to live by what we hear, and by the people who play it.

    Alternatively, let us check and double check all nigunim, and excise many (almost all) which were taken from secular gentile cultures way back when in whole or in part, since we don’t want to be affected by the sould that lurk within.

    Listen and analyse the thought process of the radicals, take the implications to the extreme, and ask if they make any sense on any level, and should be adopted on any level.

    Music is music. There is no such thing as “Jewish” music. Classical music generally is probably the closest thing, because it is written intelligently, or so Rabbi Moshe Shapiro told me so may years ago when I asked a Rabbi why some flamer of a BT told me it was forbidden for me to play my violin, and the Rabbi brought me to him.

    I’m not saying everyone should be teaching their children piao or violin (though I wouldn’t mind) but get off the backs of those Jews who do, because you probably don’t have the musical knowledge to take us on anyway, just associations of music either with a previous life or fear of an alternative life as your motivating issue.

    That’s not inherant to all “secular” music. That’s in your head. That’s your problem, and it is Fundamentalist to the core, not normative Judaism.

  40. I listen to a variety of AC (Adult Contemporary) stations in the car, @ home, and @ work. To me, music brings back memories…I just couldn’t part with it so easily…just because I’m Frum. I mean, it’s not as big a part of my life as it used to be when I was younger, but I don’t see how listening to what I listen to is really bad. My favorite artists are the Bee Gees, Phil Collins/Genesis (see? named after Bereishis! ha ha ha!), and some Elton John. In fact, on the Gateways website, one of the songs they feature is “Strangers Like Me” (from the Tarzan soundtrack) by Phil Collins. I mean, it’s not like I’m into what most teenagers listen to today (if you know what I mean).

  41. I can completely relate. I don’t really miss rock ‘n roll, but I do listen to classical. My real taiva, though, is for secular literature, and I LOOOOOVE Harry Potter.

  42. Gershon has a great point. When you start in with the Slippery Slope, you are in for one heck of a neurotic and dysfunctional lifestyle — there is no end to it.

    The slippery slope is itself a slippery slope.

  43. Wow, this is quite a fantastic post & thread! I must mention that this has already come up, in a slightly different form, on a “Chabad Talk” thread on Jewish Music, with close to 500 posts! For those interested, they can be found here:

    Jewish Music 1 – 402 posts

    and also here: JM 2 – 77 posts

    [Especially see the first few posts in the first thread].

    Some of the salient points I have gleaned from there, as well as some of my own:

    Rebbe Shmuel Eliyahu of Zvolin, father of the first Modzitzer Rebbe, said that “A person has a tremendous responsibility when he gives over a tune [Rina]. The rise and descent of the nefesh & neshama [Jewish soul] depend on the niggun. It all depends on the singer/player – what he plays/sings, and how he does it. A niggun can lift one up to the greatest heights, or lower him to Sheol Tachtis – the Depths.” [Sefer Imrei Shaul, p. 316]

    “The Frierdike Rebbe [Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch] 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 Neshama. When you listen to a song composed by a Chassid, you are affected by that Chassid’s Neshama. 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-Jew’s soul, which is probably not very beneficial to a Tayere Yiddishe Neshama [precious Jewish soul].”

    That said, what one needs to hear in the early stages of Teshuva may differ from what one needs later, and what an FFB [frum-from-birth] needs.

    I would have to agree with R. Alter, that one should have a periodic review of the type of music he listens to…for the sake of his own neshama!

  44. Alter,

    I undersand what you’re saying very well. Perhaps for 20 years, until about 7 years ago I could have written them myself. I have started looking at things a bit differently. And I think I would like to add Baruch Hashem.

    Yes, we all have yetzer horas and yes, there’s the slippery slope factor. For many though, the only music they listened to was quite benign. (That wouldn’t be me but it might be my wife) For others who are in the music writing business or professional musicians, they might need to hear certain recording to learn song structure or a particular style of music. I’ve downloaded MIDI music from song’s that I wanted to study their structure, and using certain software, I’m able to listen to specific instruments one at a time. Often I’ll practice drums along with those MIDI songs. Two hours of rock and jazz from the 70’s – no words at all. Great drum workout! For others the attachment to music is so great that it’s just not going to happen. I suppose that’s what you were talking about whenyo said ask about the heter in 5 years. But I didn’t think we needed to be saying that out loud whennot eeryone fallsinto that category and we would be turning off the others. Plus those who recieved a “heter” don’t always need to hear that’s it’s just a “heter”.

    Your personal experience isn’t the next guy’s. I guess that’s the main point I was trying to make.

    As for the slippery slope – it really depends on how important things are to a person before you ban something completely. We don’t tell people to stop eating all pizza and hotdogs because the Torah commands us to be healthy. Why not? because it’s not so bad? Ask a doctor! Maybe we should not allow public transportation for fear of what one might see? Perhaps all colored shirts should be prohibited because it’s too much like the outside culture.

    Often there are good reasons to do what’s more of a stuggle.

    I write this despite being full aware of the famous statement that the Vilna Gaon said to the Dubno Magid – “It’s no mitvah to be a kuntzmacher…”

    After hearing that explanation of the Vina Gaon, as to why he lived so removed from the world, the Dubno Maggid did not move in with the Vilna Gaon and live as he did. And we still respect and learn Torah from the Dubno Magid. Was this despite the shortcomings of the Dubno Magid? I dont think so!

  45. Reb Gershon,

    Let’s look at the reality of the situation. You mentioned 1 song from Mr. Wonder. I bet you could mention a number of individual songs from different artists. Do you really beleive that most people will go out and buy a cd or tape and only listen to the 1 song on each of them? I don’t think so. I think what they will do is decide to only listen to the 1 clean song on the album but as the days go on they will start to think-“what a waste of money, the other songs aren’t so bad” or as the 1 song ends, they let the next one on the album play and then they say-“this one isn’t so bad”, etc… Yes, they could buy individual downloads too. However what I see from my own past and it is chazal’s advice: Feed your yetzer hara and it only wants more!

    In my past, when I tried cutting down on the secular music to only the clean stuff, I found myself returning to most. I realized that I needed to completely stop listening to secular music and only listen to Jewish stuff. Baruch Hashem I succeeded. I don’t feel the pull anymore like I used to. I guess I found some good Jewish stuff. I guess it is sort of like going cold turkey with smoking or drinking. I think it is very hard for people to resist. Especially with music because it really touches a part of our souls. Music is really powerful.

    Also, how do you think your kids would handle it? Do you think they will really understand that they are only supposed to listen to 2 songs on an album. Don’t you think they will some times continue listening to others because the temptation is right there. It is like buying a magazine and cutting out all the “bad” pictures. They want to see the “bad” pictures now even more. It would be better to have just not bought the magazine in the 1st place. And you can’t tell me that only you will listen to secular music and not permit your children. That is a recipe for disaster.

    I remember before I got rid of my TV/VCR how difficult it became to hold on to my principles. Everyone says I am only going to watch wedding videos, cartoons for the kids and only once a week. How many people find themselves going down the slippery slope of going to blockbusters and renting movies that aren’t R rated and “only” 3 times a week. Also, it is a “special” occasion(which happens every other day. Or the TV becomes the ultimate babysitter. Getting rid of the TV was an uplifting experience. Since then, dvd’s came out. The temptation has always been there. “Just get the kosher ones. I know what will happen. 3 nights a week a movie and the kids will be in couch potato land. No thank you. Look, should we be able to control ourselves? Yes, however I am being very realistic. I have seen it in my own life and that of many people. We learn to justify everything.

    If we really consider the statement that we are supposed to be a Holy nation then I can’t imagine wanting to take the chance of “ruining that status” because of a good Stevie Wonder song that will most likely lead to listen to “improper” music. Also, do you want the same lips that praise Hashem, repeating words that are “unclean”?

    That is my humble opinion.

  46. Hey, Gershon, why did you have to mention that song? Now I can’t get it outta my head!!

  47. …”permit music containing nivil peah and licentious behavior for the general public.”

    What about all the secular music that doesn’t contain that? Is there no grey area??? We can’t hear Stevie Wonder’s you are the sunshine of my life because he should have used the words you are the Rebbetizin of my life?

  48. Jacob Haller: Thank you for sharing that experience. Life cycle events provide tremendous opportunities for growth, especially when carried out in accordance with halacha. As a newly frum Jew I had trouble turning to Tehillim for comfort. Then, during the few days before my father A”H was nifter, Tehillim became my constant companion. There was a new desperation I had never known before which could only find expression in that way.
    I have often talked with my children about the difference between the secular and religious way of carrying out levayas, and the obligations for the period afterward. I have experienced both. Secular people often see shiva, for example, as a burden and typically seek to cut the days short. But the way our mesorah prescribe the observance of shiva and aveilus really satisfies the psychological needs of the survivors to honor their beloved, and get back into the outside world bit by bit, while we adjust to our new situation.
    I think happy life cycle events hold the same potential.

  49. Dear Reb Gershon,
    I would be shocked to think that any respectable posek, whether colorful knitted yalmuka or black hat, would permit music containing nivil peah and licentious behavior for the general public.
    I would love to hear their reasoning for permitting those things(since they are forbidden actions by anyone). I could hear someone telling me that secular music that is “clean” should be permitted. That is a different arguement where the different haskafas might disagree.
    Classical music for the most part is a different beast. There are no words and for the most part I would assume, atleast by my generation, most fraternity parties didn’t play classical music by their parties(thereby eliminating the negative associations with the music).
    Obviously there are 70 faces to the torah, but they are all based on Chumash, Talmud, and right up to our poskim.
    Kol Tuv

  50. Oh, I can’t believe you did that to me! For now on will I forever hear the famous final kinah on Tisha B’av “Eli Tzion” and think Scarborough Fair!!!!!!!!

  51. In another post, someone commented that she sang Dror Yikra to the melody of Scarborough Fair. Me too, sometimes. There is an unsubstantiated rumor that Art Garfunkle heard this melody from his grandfather, whose synagogue used it during either L’cha Dodi (the meter fits, too) or a Tisha b’Av tune!

  52. Like some other participants in this blog forum I played in high school bands covering formats across the teen spectrum. Being on stage even in front of a smaller audience of say 50 or so was beyond thrilling.

    I didn’t just listen to music, I MAINLINED it!

    Even after taking on Shmiras Shabbos my music collection remained generally intact. Maybe because I exited out of the teenage years I started to discard some of the noisier elements. Also the 33 1/3 turntable was on it’s way out.

    However, the main point here is my unyielding hakaras hatov to Chazal who poskined about refraining from music during the year of aveilus. Following my mother’s petira, music was absent from my life for an entire year.

    When aveilus concluded, was I starving to crank up a CD? Not really. Gradually it became apparent that the music taiveh I once carried (and was burdenend by) if not completely eradicated was severely dulled.

    Once is an infrequent while there’s some enjoyment from a Kol Achai or Rabbi’s Sons tape/CD and it’s nice to find yourself humming the tune with pasukim from Tehilim or other liturgical examples. And I’m privileged to have a father-in-law as an informal expert on Chasidish nigunim.

    Of course there’s no “ra’ayeh” that this D’var Chazal was intended for anything but “Kovod L’Meis” but it’s amazing how much it benefited growth and cleansing in ruchniyus FOLLOWING aveilus. Maybe someone has sources to back this up.

    T’shuva K’Darco. Growth/Return/Repentance to one’s own way and means. It’s unfortunate that it required a personal tragedy to catalyze this new approach to life. However, with no claims to knowledge of how Shomayim “works”, wouldn’t it be (with purposeful downplaying) kind of meaningful if somehow my mother’s neshama benefits from this stride in her son’s ruchniyus?

  53. I think Rabbi Seif is making a very important point. As Baalei Teshuva, we have been in at least two communities and we have the opportunity to bridge gaps and reject the “my way or the highway” approach. As we wrote on a post way back when, we need to expand the Tent of Torah.

    I do want to say that for the purposes of this blog, we are setting a baseline definition of Torah Observance at belief in the Rambam’s Fundamental Principles and adherence to Shulchan Aruch and Poskim. (I know it’s a little more complicated than that when it comes to Psak halacha.)

    But of course we welcome and extend our arms to all Jews who share in our direction of getting closer to Hashem, regardless of where they are currently holding.

  54. DK

    Klezmatics are fantastic but are you familiar with the work of Andy Statman? He dosen’t do vocals and with fewer instruments the sound is not as lush but in terms of pure instrumental virtuosity on both the clarinet and the mandolin no one anywhere in the Klezmer revival has anything on Andy.

    Andy is a Frum neo-Chosid. Davins in Modzitz.

  55. R’ Alter Klein wrote: My advice to everyone, not only regarding music: Any Heterim that you received when you were 1st becoming frum or anywhere along the way, should be updated and rediscussed with your Rabbanim on a semi regular basis. What was ok 5 years ago, might not still hold for your situation today.
    R’ Alter, Nobody would deny that. But, I would like to interject here… YOur comment leads me believe that you’re assuming that a ba’al teshuvah being told he can continue to listen to secular music is but a heter. While the people who were mekarev me would certainly agree (and certainly some of the music I listened to), let’s not forget that there are different hashkafos out there. This blog isn’t an Ohr Somayach teshuvah blog. There are baalei teshuva whose teachers that have small colorful kippot and they themsleves might be listening to secular music. And if that music is Bach or something like that, perhaps it’s completely ok even in an Ohr Somayach world view and not a “heter”. (I believe Rav Bulman would listen to classical music) And then if the kiruv yeshiva is in Bnei Brak, you’re might just hear that you should eventually wean yourself of Bach too.

    My point is, this blog is a public domain with many streams of Jewish life passsing through. Even kiruv professionals who have effectively given advice in their “kiruv domain” might want to think twice before couching a phrase one way or another on this blog. Not just to be politically correct, but because the reality is may people who visit this blog are not interested in becoming “our type” of frum and still need our support and guidance, while we still give them the space to gothe teshuva route that they have chosen. Shivim panim LaTorah!

  56. As Hebrew editor of said yearbook, I recommended to my committee that your Hebrew quote be from Thursday’s shir shel yom, “Rise up in song and play the drums”. I was overruled and you ended up with a silly ditty (drum related, of course). My choice of the pasuk in Tehillim, in context of praising Hashem in song, would have had much more lasting value for you these days, wouldn’t you agree?

    Now you know which Ruby…?

  57. If you recall under my pictue in our 8th grade yearbook was line “Gershon Seif, drums are his life”

    B”H, I’ve moved way past that a long long time ago, but as they used to say in tht cigarette commercial “you can take salem out of the country but you can’t take the country out of salem”…

  58. R’ Gershon, nice to be reunited with a classmate from yesteryear. I’m not sure about the NA, but I can vouch that the D in your DNA is Drums.

  59. My advice to everyone, not only regarding music:
    Any Heterim that you received when you were 1st becoming frum or anywhere along the way, should be updated and rediscussed with your Rabbanim on a semi regular basis. What was ok 5 years ago, might not still hold for your situation today. Lets remember that a heter is not the ideal. It is a special dispensation for someones’ personal situation. No 2 heters are alike. Just like prescription medicine should not be used by someone’s friends, so to with heterim. Each individual should ask their Rav.
    Gut Shabbos and Shabbat Shalom!

  60. Nothing illuminates the divide between secualr and frum culture like the music. If you want classical, Jazz, or even intelligent pop (like Radiohead or Thievery Corporation), there is no way you will ever be satisfied with the limited selection that frum music offers. Even in my most BT period, I never cast off secular music, and it was one of the few things that my Haredi Spiritual Guides approved I did not divest of, much to the annoyance of a few of the more devout bochrim.

    Restricting oneself to frum music is only a serious option for people who don’t have an intensive and rigorous musical background. Not an extensive background, an intensive one — so don’t tell me how you used to listen to this or that band all the time, or jam out on three chords like there was no tomorrow, that’s not what I’m talking about.

    Even within Jewish music, many of the best bands are secular. For instance, there is no frum equivalent to the Klezmatics, nor obviously, for Pharaoh’s Daughter.

    I particularly found the use of prepubescent boys as a substitute for the female voice a particularly annoying substitute, and something that many of us from a secular background should not be expected to enjoy.

  61. I feel the same as many other people here that it’s a bit of a step too far to go and get rid of all the old music. One thing I can say though is that over the past few years my CD collection has remained rather static. While I haven’t quite reached the point yet where I can discard all the secular music I used to listen to, I no longer have a desire to go out and add to that collection.

  62. Think it’s hard for you?

    I own and operate full time a mobile DJ Entertainment company.
    Granted, I am doing more & more frum events, but most of the modern Orthdox world want lots of secular classics.

    I’ve realized I can’t stop listening to songs that were a part of my secular past, so instead when I’m not working, I oversaturate my brain with Chabad nigguns & nice kosher music like Carlebach, Karduna, Simply Tzfat, Moshav, Soulfarm and of course MATISYAHU!!!!

  63. I gave mine away over 27 years ago. ( I couldn’t bear to throw them away – bal tashchis ;-) )

    But a walk down the isle in the supermarket and I’m still thinking of the next lyrics

  64. Wow, I recently posted on this topic in my blog where the subject was Music To My Ears. I am also very attached to my music collection and have not had the strength [yet] to start throwing away all the treif albums in mass. Of course this will probably change if I am ever so blessed by Hashem to have children; but for right now, I’m just not ready to say “bye-bye” just yet.

  65. I just looked over there and saw the first part of that post cited by Velvel Pasternak. That’s a blast from my past! He was my school music teacher back in the 60’s for a few years, and his kids attended the same school I did (Hillel in Lawrence, NY). He was also the person who wrote the musical arrangements for the first few Carlebach albums put out around 1960. Boy what a trip down memory lane…

  66. I hear you, I hear you. And I hear Dave too. Back in the day, decades ago, I wasn’t just a casual music listener. I was in bands from the age of 11. Rock, Jazz, Theatre Company musician. It’s part of my DNA.

    We take the culture with us when we review that stuff all the time. OTOH, perhaps there’s aspects of that culture we can uplift and not have to reject. If our Rebbeim aren’t listening to this kind of music, well that’s because they ever been moved by that kind of music. And coming from where they did, they shouldn’t have. But if we have, isn’t there a way we don’t have do reject our very selves? That’s a good part of why I’m writing music these days. You should know I agonize over this question often.

  67. I know many FFBs as well at BTs who listen to everything from Abba to Zepplin. If you are now offended by a song, don’t listen to it.

    Music is the soundtrack of your life. My life is tied to the music I was listening to when major events happened to me. Whenever I hear Megilat eshter, I immediately think of Van Halen 1984 and Nena 99 Luftballoons. Both were popular when I was studying for my Bar Mitzvah (I did the Megilah)

    Music is the soundtrack of your life. Don’t let someone erase it


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