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Non Jewish music

Question:

I am in high school.
During breaks, classmates like listening to music, generally rock music from Jewish bands.
I like listening to calming non-jewish music, ie. jazz or blues (not about trief subjects or by the other gender, obvs). If I play  it, I am told it is forbidden to listen to it. How is Jewish rock music more “eidel” than non-Jewish jazz?
Another point, a classmate likes listening to non-Jewish classical (for some reason:) ), why is he allowed to do that.
Then, if it is about the religion of the singer rather than the actual content and style of the song, thus Israeli pop music (i.e. listening to radio stations) is allowed? If so, is UK male only pop music stations also allowed (ie DJ)?

Thanks

 

Answer:

You are asking an important question. In order to answer your question properly, let’s first investigate a little what music is about and its effect on us.

R’ Mattisyahu Solomon shlit”a (the mashgiach of Lakewood Yeshiva) asks an interesting question, (See Matnas Chaim -Moadim pg. 152-160) from R Shlomo Alkebetz (the author of the Lecho Dodi). He asks, in Megillas Esther we find that during the massive party that Achashveirosh made, he had every type of pleasure that they could think of. The best food, the best wine, couches, tapestries etc. as enumerated in the megillah. Why is it that there is no mention of music by his party, after all doesn’t music add to every party and wedding and make it more enjoyable? He says an interesting point. The reason why our soul enjoys music is because this is what it is used to when it was still in heaven. He says that the angels communicate in a melodious way, especially when they sing the praises of Hashem. It can even be said, that “melody is the language of heaven”. He also says that this is why a young baby is calmed by music, because it subconsciously reminds him of the past serenity and pleasure that his soul had.

Additionally, Radak (Tehillim -4) describes some of the intricacies of the art of music. How there are various types of music with different instruments, and each instrument played a different type of music, each evoking different feelings in the person’s soul. Therefore, certain specific tunes were sung with different Psalms, in order to bring out a better feeling and understanding as to what the Psalm is saying. The tune gives the soul a much deeper understanding of the words that are being said.

Then R’ Solomon discusses using secular tunes. He brings from Birkei Yosef (O:CH 560) that throughout the exile, the Jews did take tunes from the gentiles. R’ Solomon explains, that a tune is not good or bad, rather it depends on the words that are attached to it, and to the intention of the person singing it. Therefore, it is possible to take the tune of a gentile, and when it is sung with the proper words and intention it can arouse the person to want to come closer to Hashem and make himself better.

With this, R’ Solomon explains why Achashveirosh didn’t want to play music at his party. Although the purpose of his party was to get the Jews to sin, he was afraid that the music he would play, although played in order to evoke negative feelings, he was afraid that the Jews would turn it around and use it as a way to get closer to Hashem. Therefore, he decided not to play any music at the party.

Now let’s get to your question. The rule with music is; what feelings is it going to evoke to the person listening to it? If the music is from a gentile source and has words with an immoral overtone- that is treif and damaging. However, if it doesn’t have words, then it depends on what feelings it awakens inside of us. Does it make us want to be wild, fidgety, and do bizarre things, or does it evoke a feeling of wanting to lift ourselves up and connect to something more positive?

This is why in general classical music is not frowned upon, whereas rock music especially with lyrics from moral low-lives can be quite damaging. When the song is sung by a person without yiras shomayim, usually the intention or connotation of the song will be promoting his life-view and values. On the contrary, when a song is sung by a person with correct intentions, even if it is lively will be very different.

I hope this gives you some clarity on this issue.

Best wishes

 

 

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