THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MODERN CHAREIDI ROCK MUSIC: ITS SOURCES AND EFFECTS
FOR ADVICE ON ALL SUBJECTS OF MUSIC IN THE CHAREIDI PUBLIC:
הועד לנגינה יהודית
THE COMMITTEE FOR JEWISH MUSIC
- ADVICE TO BAALEI SIMCHAH FOR WEDDINGS
- LISTS OF KOSHER BANDS AND MUSICIANS
- ADVICE TO ARRANGE HACHNASSAS SEFER TORAH
- BOOKS AND ARTICLES ON THE SUBJECT OF CHAREIDI MUSIC
- LECTURES IN YESHIVOS AND SEMINARIES
- POSSIBILITY TO CONTROL THE VOLUME AT SIMCHOS
- WITH THE APPROVAL OF GEDOLEI HADOR
CHAPTER 1 – THE INFLUENCE OF MUSIC
CHAPTER 2 – QUOTES FROM NEWSPAPERS AND BOOKS ON “ROCK AND RO
CHAPTER 3 – THE SOURCES OF THE MODERN “CHASSIDIC” MUSIC
CHAPTER 4 – THE INFLUENCE OF MUSIC ON THE BODY
CHAPTER 5 – THE INFLUENCE ON THE SOUL
CHAPTER 6 – כי דבר ה’ בזה
ROCK MUSIC INFLUENCES VIOLENCE AND STUPIDITY
EVERYTHING THE SINGERS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE MODERN CHAREIDI MUSI
“THE TORAH IS NOT HEFKER” IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE HEBREW VERSION: כי דבר ה’ בזה
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RECHOV TOLEDANO 6
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The gaon, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapira זצ”ל related that the gaon Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz זצ”ל used to compose songs to words from pesukim and tefillos, and would bring them to his Rebbe, R’ Chaim of Brisk זצ”ל who would decide if the songs were suitable and respectable to be sung to the words. Unfortunately in our times, every ignoramus who wants to write songs set to words from pesukim does as he likes, and the people who decide whether it is good or not are the businessmen and disc jockeys who run the Jewish music business.
In the past twenty years there has been an extreme deterioration in the music being written and played for the chareidi public. The people who run the Jewish music business, seeing how their non-Jewish counterparts have succeeded in making millions out of the young generation, have followed their example to present the singers and their songs in a similar way. Gedolei Hador have expressed their opposition to the modern styles of music that are played at simchos and listened to in the homes of most frum people, and many educators claim that the modern music is a major cause to influence young people to abandon Torah and mitzvos, רח”ל. However their protests are generally ignored, mainly due to a lack of understanding of the power and influence that music contains.
In the following pages we will present the sources and effects of the modern styles of popular music and the opinions of experts and Rabbonim so that the chareidi public can decide for themselves if there is any justification to allow Jewish music to be presented in the way it is today.
THE INFLUENCE OF MUSIC
There are many people who have been led to think that there are no bad influences in music. They assume that if we do not find any prohibition mentioned by our Rabbis of previous generations to refrain from listening to any type of music, then everything is permissible. We do find one place in Chazal in חגיגה ט”ו, that tells us that the Tanna Elisha Ben Avuya was influenced to become an apikorus by listening to a Greek song. This seems to imply that there did exist in the Greek music of that period bad influences that could corrupt the soul. This does not mean that all types of non-Jewish music are bad, as we find that over the generations our Rabbis permitted to use non-Jewish melodies even for Kaddish and Kedusha [see Birchei Yosef או"ח תק"ס and Pri Megadim או"ח נ"ג, א"א י"ד]. The truth is that there are many different types of music in the world. Some are beneficial, or at least not harmful, and others give negative influences, and apparently the Greek song that Acher listened to was of this type.
This is verified by the ancient Greek philosophers who mention that there did exist in their times negative types of music that could corrupt the soul. The philosopher Plato mentions in several places that music has positive and negative influences. He writes that music has moral or immoral effects, and that it can enervate or corrupt the soul [Laws 700-701]. It is also quite clear that he held that rhythms imitate the good or the bad in human beings [Laws 798] and so can influence the listener.
He also writes that music must promote self-control, rather than excite vulgar sentiments and passions [Laws 662b, 800e], and in Laws 802c he writes that sober and ordered music makes man better, while the vulgar and trivial sort makes him worse.
“No change can be made in styles of music without affecting the most important conventions of society. So Damon declares and I agree.” [The Dialogues of Plato: Republic 242c, translated by B. Jowett, Oxford University Press, London, 1933.]
These opinions were not merely theoretical. Several generations before Plato, there began a decline in Greek music that had an immense influence on the morality and behaviour of Greek society, and this soon led to the Greek revolution in the year 3356 which brought the downfall of the elite of Athens. Decades later, in his famous work, Laws, Plato lamented the musical revolution and its ‘unmusical anarchy’. His words are as relevant today as when first written: “Through foolishness they deceived themselves into thinking that there was no right or wrong in music – that it was to be judged good or bad by the pleasure it gave. By their work and their theories they infected the masses with the presumption to think themselves adequate judges ….. As it was, the criterion was not music, but a reputation for promiscuous cleverness and a spirit of law-breaking.”
Also Aristotle held similar views about the influence of music: “The same principles apply to rhythms, some have a character of rest, others of motion, and of these latter again, some have a more vulgar, others a more noble movement…. ‘music’ has a power of forming the character, and should therefore be introduced into the education of the young.” [Aristotle, Politics 1340. from the Works of Aristotle, edited and trans. J.A. Smith and W.D. Ross, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1912.]
Aristotle says that the amusement and relaxation produced by music are akin to sleep, drinking and dancing, which are sought for the sake of pleasure [Politics 1339a, 15-20). He goes on to say that music serves virtue by accustoming the player and hearer to rejoice rightly. There are nobler strains and meaner ones, sensual rhythms and rational ones, discord and harmony. The base soul delights in more primitive rhythms whereas great souls delight in harmonic order and gravity of theme.
Also the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius held similar opinions to the Greeks as can be seen in the following quotations: “In the periods of disorder, rites are altered and music is licentious. Then sad sounds are lacking in dignity, joyful sounds lack in calm… when the spirit of opposition manifests itself, indecent music comes into being…. When the spirit of conformity manifests itself, harmonious music appears…. So that, under the effect of music, the five social duties are without admixture, the eyes and ears are clear, the blood and vital spirits are reformed, customs are improved, the Empire is in complete peace.” [“Yoki Liki” as cited in “Introduction to the Study of Musical Scales” by Alain Danielou, The Indian Society, London 1943, p.16-17.]
“Tones arise from the human heart, and music is connected with the principles of human conduct. Therefore the animals know sounds but do not know music. Only the superior man is able to understand music. Thus from a study of the sounds, one comes to understand the tones: from a study of the tones, one comes to understand the music; and from the study of music, one comes to understand the principles of government and is thus fully prepared for being a ruler.” [Yoki Liki XIX, as cited in The Wisdom of Confucius, by Lin Yutang, Modern Library, New York, 1938, p.254].
“The music of Cheng is lewd and corrupting, the music of Sung is soft and makes one effeminate, the music of Wei is repetitious and annoying, and the music of Ch’i is harsh and makes one haughty. These four kinds of music are all sensual music and undermine the people’s character, and that is why they cannot be used at sacrifices.” [The Wisdom of Confucius, p.264.]
THE OPINIONS OF OUR RABBIS ON THE INFLUENCE OF MUSIC
After we have clearly established the opinions of the ancient philosophers that music has the power to influence society in both a positive and negative way, people may still say – “Who says that we have to believe these goyim! Maybe our Rabbis held differently?” Let us therefore see what they had to say on this subject.
Rabeinu Avraham the son of the Rambam wrote the following:
“אך הישמר לך פן תטעה לחשוב כי שמיעת שירים וקולות המעוררים את היצר הרע או הפעלת חוש הראיה לכגון דא הוא דבר אנושי, אלא דומה הדבר להפעלת תכונה אצילה לצורך שפל, כמו שנבערים מדעת מעסיקים את מחשבתם ודעתם בעבירותיהם ובהמיותם ורשעותם, והדברים ברורים.” [ספר המספיק לעובדי ה', מאמר כבישת הכחות והמעשים, עמוד 165].
And these are the words of the חובות הלבבות:
“ופרוש ממה שיביאך להמרות האלקים ולעזוב מצוותיו ממיני הזמר והניגון והשחוק והרינה, הטורדים אותך מן המצוות והמעשים הטובים.” [שער הפרישות פרק ה'].
And Rabeinu Saadiah Gaon wrote the following:
“וכן הקול היחיד והנעימות והלחנים אינם מעוררים מתכונות הנפש אלא דבר אחד בלבד, [כלומר דבר אחד בלבד מהקולות לא יניע מדות וכחות הנפש מאומה] ופעמים יזיקוה, אבל מזוגם מאזן מה שמתגלה מתכונותיה וכוחותיה, [ר"ל מזג הקולות ישוה עם תנועות הכחות הנפשיות ויתנועעו על פיו] וראוי שתדע השפעותיהן כשהן נפרדות כדי שיהא המזוג בהתאם לכך, ואומר עתה, כי הלחנים שמונה, ולכל אחד קצבה של נעימות, הראשון מהן קצבתו שלש נעימות רצופות ואחת נחה. והשני שלש נעימות רצופות ואחת נחה ואחת נעה, ושני לחנים אלה מעוררים כח הדם ותכונת המלכות והשלטונות.
“והשלישי מקצב שתי נעימות רצופות שאין ביניהן כדי נעימה ואחת נחה, ובין כל ירידה ועליה וירידה כדי נעימה, וזה לבדו מעורר המרה הירוקה והגבורה וחוזק ומה שדומה להם.
“והרביעי מקצבו שלש נעימות רצופות שאין ביניהן כדי נעימה, ובין כל שלש ושלש כדי נעימה, וזה לבדו מעורר המרה הלבנה ומגלה בנפש כח השפלות והכניעה והמורך וכל הדומה לזה.
“והחמישי מקצבו נעימה בודדת ושתים שונות זו מזו ואין ביניהן כדי נעימה, ובין עליה וירידה כדי נעימה. והששי מקצבו שלש נעימות נעות. והשביעי מקצבו שתי נעימות רצופות שאין ביניהן כדי נעימה, ובין כל שתים ושתים כדי נעימה. והשמיני מקצבו שתי נעימות רצופות שאין ביניהן כדי נעימה, ובין כל שתים ושתים כדי שתי נעימות. וכל ארבע אלה מעוררות מרה השחורה, ומגלות בנפש מדות חלוקות, פעם לשמחה, ופעם אל הדאגה.
“ומנהג המלכים למזגם זה בזה כדי לאזנם, ויהיה מה שיעוררו מתכונותיהם כאשר שומעים אותם בכדי להטיב נפשותיהם להנהגת המלכות, ולא יטו אותם לרוב רחמנות או אכזריות ולא הפרזת גבורה או מורך, ולא תוספת וגרעון בשמחה ובחדוה.” [ספר האמונות והדעות, מאמר י', פרק י"ח].
It is interesting to note that these words are very similar to those of Aristotle:
“Emotions of any kind are produced by melody and rhythm; therefore by music a man becomes accustomed to feeling the right emotions; music has thus power to form character, and the various kinds of music based on the various modes, may be distinguished by their effects on character – one, for example, working in the direction of melancholy, another of effeminacy; one encouraging abandonment, another self-control, another enthusiasm, and so on through the series.” [quoted in “The Secret Power of Music” by David Tame, p.19].
We therefore see that our Rabbis also mentioned that music has beneficial and detrimental influences. But we should ask why there is nothing mentioned by the Gedolim of Europe on this subject [as we find that the only type of goyishe music that they prohibited was music of עבודה זרה and שירי עגבים (love songs), where the bad influence is essentially in the words, and not in the music]. The answer is that European music until the 20th century was generally clean and respectable, and did not contain negative influences. Therefore we see that those Gedolim who did write about harmful music were the ones who lived among the arabs, whose music is full of immoral content as is mentioned by Rabbi Chaim Palagi:
“מי יתן שיזהרו המשוררים שלא ינגנו הקדיש והקדושה בניגוני הגוים במאקאם, שהיודע מהם יבאו לו הרהורים רעים, ופיגול הוא לא ירצה, וההעדר טוב ממציאותו.” [ספר כף החיים ס' י"ג אות ו'].
However, we find that during the 20th century, Western music changed its direction and purpose. Serious music abandoned the concepts of tonality, feeling and spirituality, and became inhuman. New forms of popular music appeared with a new purpose to promote immorality, rebellion and violence. The results can be seen on the street. This musical anarchy has already destroyed the last two generations of modern society, and over the past 25 years has been creeping into chareidi music by means of irresponsible singers, arrangers and producers who do not seem to care about our spiritual welfare. Let us now hear from the experts what they say about the modern popular music.
QUOTES FROM NEWSPAPERS AND BOOKS ON “ROCK AND ROLL”
The “New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians” (2001) Vol. 21 describes “rock” music: “Musically it tends to be highly amplified, with a strong beat and rhythmic patterns commonly considered erotic, and to draw heavily on proto-folk (especially African-American) musical sources from Southern USA.”
And in Vol . 20 page 106: “ Censorship and other techniques for weakening rock and roll’s impact reflect accurate perceptions of its power to challenge and disrupt accepted behaviours.”
“The rock n’ roll school in general concentrated on a minimum of melodic line and a maximum of rhythmic noise, deliberately competing with the artistic ideals of the jungle itself.” [Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year, 1955, p. 470.]
“It appeals to the very base of man, brings out animalism and vulgarity.” [Newsweek, 23.4.56, p.16]
“Rock and roll inflames and excites youth like jungle tom-toms.” [Variety, 23.4.56, p.32.]
“A noted psychiatrist described ‘rock and roll’ music today as a ‘communicable disease’ and ‘another sign of adolescent rebellion.’ Dr. Francis J. Braceland, psychiatrist in chief of the Institute of Living, called rock and roll a ‘cannibalistic and tribalistic form of music.’” [New York Times, 28.3.56, p.35.]
“Strange things happen in the blood stream when a musical resonance coincides with the beat of the human pulse.” [Conductor Herbert Von Karajan in the New York Times, 27.10.56, p.35.]
Rock and roll “represents some kind of change in our standards. What has happened to our concepts of beauty, decency and morality?” [President Eisenhower in a public statement, 1956, quoted in Garland Encyclopaedia of World Music, Vol. 3, p.354.]
Rock and roll “is the most brutal, ugly, desperate vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear. Rock n’ roll smells phony and false. It is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons, and by means of its almost imbecilic reiteration, and sly, lewd, in plain fact, dirty lyrics….it manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the earth.” [Frank Sinatra at 1958 Congressional hearings, New York Times magazine, 12.1.58, p.19.]
“The most fundamental defining characteristic of rock and roll, of course, has always been a 4/4 time signature in which the second and fourth beats are heavily accented. In all rock lyrics and dances the ineluctable “one-TWO-three-FOUR” is the force which sustains the motion.” [Langdon Winner: “The Strange Death of Rock and Roll” in “Rock and Roll will stand”, Ed. Greil Marcus, 1969, p.46.]
From the article: “Why they rock ‘n’ roll – and should they?” by Gertrude Samuels, in New York Times magazine, 12.1.58, p.19:
“What is this thing called rock ‘n’ roll? What is it that makes teenagers –mostly children between the ages of 12 and 16 throw off their inhibitions as though at a revivalist meeting? What – who – is responsible for these sorties? AND IS THIS GENERATION OF TEENAGERS GOING TO HELL?
“An important source of course, is the music itself. Technically rock ‘n’ roll derives from the blues. But rock ‘n’ roll is an extension of what was known as “Rhythm and Blues”, a music of the Thirties and Forties that aimed primarily at the Negro market; that music emphasized the second and fourth beats of each measure. Rock ‘n’ roll exploits this same heavy beat – by making it heavier, lustier and transforming it into what has become known as the Big Beat. It is a tense monotonous beat that often gives rock ‘n’ roll music a jungle-like persistence. (Quotes from young people): “It’s the rhythm, it’s easy to listen to.” “It’s the beat!” “Because it’s music we understand.” “It makes you feel good.” “The main thing about this music is that it’s lively – it’s not dead. It makes you want to dance. With a waltz you have to be in a good mood to dance to it. But with rock ‘n’ roll no matter what your mood is, it gets you.”
“According to Allan Bloom (in his book “The Closing of the American Mind”) rock and roll is indeed no more and no less than the savage and primitive rhythm of darkest Africa.” [From “Present Tense: Rock and roll and culture,” Ed. Anthony DeCurtis, p.47.]
“In March 1957, fearing the effects of the “hedonistic, tribal rhythms” of rock and roll music, Chicago’s Cardinal Stritch bans popular music from all catholic-run schools. Stritch later called a press conference to educate parents about the negative effects of rock music on their children. [“Music Censorship in America” by Eric Nuzum, p.220].
[In addition to the material brought above, I have many more quotes about the pornographic nature of rock music that are unfit to be presented here.]
STATEMENTS FROM CHAREIDI SINGERS ON THE MODERN “CHASSIDIC” MUSIC
Many innocent people will ask here – “What do all these quotations of goyim on modern goyishe music have to do with modern Jewish music??? We also admit that rock music is disgusting, but we only listen to “Chassidic” music written and sung by frum people! Are you implying that our holy songs contain the same immoral influences as the goyishe ones???”
The answer is – yes!!! Let us hear from the singers themselves:
“There is no such concept and it is not possible to be such a thing as “Modern Chassidic Music,” because these are two opposites – Chassidic or modern. The two can not exist together. Many of the songs today that are placed in the category of “Chassidic” music are in reality Rock and Roll, an imitation of the music of the street, from areas that have nothing to do with us.” [R’ Ben Tzion Shenker in ‘Shiru Lo,’ Vol. 10, p.34].
“Today there are styles in the chassidic music that have no connection to chassidus,” says the singer Mordechai Ben David Werdigger. “It is like being in the jungle. The kushim sing in a more refined way than they do. The words don’t make the song chassidic. Maybe it gives pleasure – like eating pizza, but there is no spiritual pleasure in it.” [from an interview in the Bnei Brak paper Kol HaIr 12th Tishrei 5764].
“Something has happened to the chassidic music in the past few years,” says Avraham Freed. “The truth is that today’s young singers have no red lines. I know that I have my limits that I will never cross….. The situation today has worsened to a point that very soon we, the singers and the public will have to shout – ‘The music has reached the gates of hell!’” [from an interview in the magazine Shaah Tovah, Erev Sukkos, 5764].
The singer Gidon Levine [in the same magazine] sums up the situation: “My problem is that the imitation of goyishe music is likely to bring a deterioration in our society, and particularly among the young people.”
These singers [with the exception of R’ Ben Tzion Shenker] fail to mention that they are the ones who started the trend to imitate American rock and roll, and that the younger singers who they criticize are only taking an example from them to copy the new styles of popular street music. Let us finally hear what the “Composer of the year – 5764” Yishai Lapidos has to say about the subject:
“I know many people who claim that today’s big singers introduced the disco beat and the rock. For example, Mordechai Ben David introduced rock and roll, Deady Groucher brought in the rock, Vindish with Boruch Hagever brought in the trend of ‘converted songs’. The song ‘Moshiach’ of Mordechai Ben David is in the style of real rock and roll, and there is not much difference between rock and roll and dance. The disco of all the big singers such as Werdigger, Freed and Deady have come from the American rock and roll and disco.” [From the magazine, Shiru Lo, Chanukah 5764, p.20].
CHANGES IN MORAL VALUES CAUSED BY THE INFLUENCE OF MODERN MUSIC
A close friend told me a story of his friend who was learning in Yeshiva in New York during the Second World War who went to sit in a New York park on a hot summers’ day. Since he was alone at the time, and the weather was very hot, he took off his shirt. After a short time, he was apprehended by a police officer and presented with a fine for being indecently dressed in a public place. If he had done the same thing ten years later, nobody would have looked at him.
We find that from the 1950’s there began a great deterioration in moral standards amongst the goyim. The young generation rebelled against all the values that their parents had received in morality, religion, modesty and decency, and in a short space of time, the whole educational and family structure in America was in ruins, and the rest of the world soon followed their example.
The American professor, Alan Bloom, in his book “The Closing of the American Mind: How Education has failed Democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students” devotes a whole chapter to the influence of rock music on the young generation. He puts the blame mainly on this music as the biggest influence in destroying their moral values. Unlimited exposure to a type of music that was basically pornographic, caused the moral destruction of a whole generation. Bloom points out that unlike films and television, that were controlled for their content of immorality and violence to protect children from them, there was no censorship on popular music at all.
“The result” writes Bloom “is nothing less than parents’ loss of control over their children’s moral education at a time when no one else is seriously concerned with it. This has been achieved by an alliance between the strange young males who have the gift of divining the mob’s emergent wishes, and the record-company executives, the new robber barons, who mine gold out of rock.” [Bloom, page 76].
Earlier on in the same chapter, he writes about the realization of the truth in the words of the Greek philosophers that music can destroy civilization: “Symptomatic of this change is how seriously students now take the famous passages on musical education in Plato’s Republic. In the past, students were indignant at the censorship of poetry, as a threat to free inquiry. But they were really thinking of science and politics. They hardly paid attention to the discussion of music itself and, to the extent that they even thought about it, were really puzzled by Plato’s devoting time to rhythm and melody in a serious treatise on political philosophy. Their experience of music was as an entertainment, a matter of indifference to political and moral life. Students today, on the contrary, know exactly why Plato takes music so seriously. They know it affects life very profoundly and are indignant because Plato seems to want to rob them of their most intimate pleasure. They are drawn into an argument with Plato about the experience of music, and the dispute centers on how to evaluate it and deal with it.” [The Closing of the American Mind, page 70].
We must realize the danger that the modern popular music presents to our own children. Let us not fool ourselves to think that the holy words that are used to sell indecent rock music to the chareidi public can make the music kosher or prevent the evil influences from defiling the soul. We all know that the modern frum pop songs have no positive influence. The influence on the young people is to distance them from the Torah and spirituality. There is no control or censorship over the cheap music created by those cretinous goons who are unfortunately held in higher esteem than Gedolei Hador by many young people. Through the influence of modern barbaric music, modern civilization has been set back over 3000 years. Do we have to go with them?
We must remember that today – to go with the times means to go down the drain!!!
THE SOURCES OF THE MODERN “CHASSIDIC” MUSIC
Most of the chareidi music that is listened to today is not at all Jewish music. Many people will immediately attack this statement by saying that most of the Jewish music in earlier times was also not Jewish, and many famous tunes were even written by goyim, such as Kol Nidrei, Maoz Tzur, etc. But I will say it again – Most of the chareidi music that is listened to today is not at all Jewish music – since it is completely unsuitable for Jewish people to listen to, and is certainly unfit to be used with holy words.
The emergence of a completely new type of wild music is due to the drastic change in the purpose of music in the world. In contrast to European music, that was generally decent and respectable, today’s popular music, in its many weird forms, is created for the purpose of arousing the yetzer hora, and its content is generally indecent and immoral. There is no dispute among the experts on this matter, and everyone knows the effect caused by this music on the goyim who constantly listen to it.
We all know that rock music was born in America, but can it rightly be called American music? There is nearly no connection between rock and roll to the American music of the 19th century, which does have a continuation in contemporary American folk music, which is music with a certain amount of feeling and spiritual content. But the wild noisy music that is heard everywhere has no connection to traditional American music. The main source of rock music comes from black American music, mainly from jazz and the blues, and accordingly we find that modern Jewish music – whose creators admit that it is also rock music – is also basically Negro music – with a bit of Jewish flavour here and there. Let us see exactly what are the origins of jazz.
It is well known that Jewish music has always been strongly influenced by the contemporary style of the local goyim. By listening to the songs of a certain group, any expert can tell that the Gerrer Chassidim come from Poland, and Vizhnitz is in Rumania. Every place has its own style, which changes from one period to another. At a time when the majority of non-Jewish music was a respectable art, there was nothing wrong with copying those styles, and therefore the Rabbis of previous generations allowed to use their music even for Kaddish and Kedushah.
The same can not be said about the music of Africa. It has no intellectual content, and is also not made to give respect or honour. It does contain feeling – but not the type of feeling that can be used for דברים שבקדושה, but rather impure feelings from a type of primitive music that was used for עבודה זרה and the occult art of voodoo.
THE ORIGINS OF JAZZ MUSIC
“Were we to scour the globe in search of the most aggressively malevolent and unmistakably evil music in existence, it is more than likely that nothing would be found anywhere to surpass voodoo in these attributes. Still practiced in Africa and the Caribbean specifically as the rhythmic accompaniment to satanic rituals and orgies, voodoo is the quintessence of tonal evil. Often its very declared purpose is to inflict harm upon other parts of life. Its multiple rhythms, rather than untying into an integrated whole, are performed in a certain kind of conflict with one another.
“It would be quite incorrect to consider voodoo to be ‘primitive’, however. Studies have shown that the multiple rhythms, performed on a large number of percussion instruments, are actually extremely complex. It is said by some that certain very subtle nuances which are incorporated into voodoo rhythms, while being too subtle for the ear of even the trained western musician to notice, are actually the source of much of voodoo’s claimed occult power.
“During the slave trade, voodoo crossed the Atlantic in the persons of those among the blacks who practiced it, and took root in the Caribbean, as well as in the United States. Though the historical records on the matter are sketchy, the original African-style voodoo seems to have arrived in the West Indies more-or-less intact. Laws were passed against the playing of such music as early as 1619, but with little effect. Nor could the voodoo rite be stamped out on the American mainland. It is on record that by 1835 blacks would gather in New Orleans to sing and perform acts of voodoo, including the blood sacrifice of animals. Musicologists and historians are in no doubt that the drum rhythms of Africa were carried to America and were transmitted and translated into the style of music which became known as jazz. Since jazz and the blues were the parents of rock and roll, this also means that there exists a direct line of descent from the voodoo ceremonies of Africa, through jazz, to rock and roll and all of the other forms of rock music current today.” [“The Secret Power of Music” by David Tame, p.190].
It was specifically in New Orleans, where the tradition of voodoo was still not forgotten, that the music of jazz was born in the late 19th century. The word jazz is of African origin, and the meaning of the word is the same as that of rock and roll, which in Negro slang means pritzus. This is not a coincidence, and describes perfectly the underlying influences of both types of music.
When jazz spread to the big cities in America during the 1920’s, it met with considerable opposition in the press, and many claimed that it was promoting immoral behaviour. Most of the later forms of popular music were based on jazz. “American popular music of the 20’s incorporates the rhythmic and melodic forms of black American jazz.” [Eric Salzmann: 20th Century Music, p.225].
From then onwards, the lower segment of society was attracted to the new forms of music, that contained no spiritual content, and was purely physical and appealed to the yetzer hora. The higher forms of European music remained with the educated, upper segments of society.
Over the next thirty years there appeared many new forms of popular music, all of them originating from jazz: Blues, Swing, Beebop, Boogie-Woogie, Rhythm and Blues. Then in the 50’s there appeared Rock and Roll. The outstanding factor in all rock music is the heavy beat, that has more importance than the melody. This is also nothing new. The primitive tribes in Africa have been playing in that way for thousands of years, and according to the French professor of music, Pierre Meuge, the purpose of this type of music is to break down the moral barriers of the listener to entice him to idol worship and immorality. It is interesting to note that this non- Jewish professor actually pointed out things that our Rabbis have already mentioned as the intention of Yuval, the originator of musical instruments. Rashi mentions in the name of the Midrash that the intention of Yuval was for idolatry, and the Malbim explains that his intention was for immorality.
These are the words of the Malbim:
“ושם אחיו יובל. הוא לקח לחלקו את הנהר השני הסובב כל ארץ כוש ששם הזימה והנאוף, והוא היה ההתחלה אל הזמר והניגון ע”ד “קחי כנור סובי עיר זונה נשכחה”, שכן היה דרך המתעתעים לשיר שיר הזונה גם בבתי משתיהם גם בבתי אליליהם, שהגם שאח”כ שב הניגון לדבר נכבד, הממציא הראשון היה להמשיך לב נשים, וע”כ נקרא שמו עוגב מלשון שיר עגבים.” [בראשית, פרק ד', כ"א].
Similarly, the goyim in America rediscovered the music of Yuval, and within a short time it spread throughout the world.
THE INFLUENCE OF MUSIC ON THE BODY
Before we explain the power of music to affect the soul, it is important to investigate the physical effects of different types of music. Much research has been done throughout the world to prove that music has a profound effect on the body, and nearly all parts of the body can be affected both in a positive and negative way, depending on the type of music being used. The roots of the auditory nerves are more widely distributed and possess more extensive connections than those of any other nerves in the body. It has been found that music influences changes in digestion, blood pressure and circulation, nutrition and respiration.
The healing effects of music are mentioned also in the Gemora [ברכות נ"ז:]:”שלשה משיבין דעתו של אדם ואלו הן – קול מראה וריח” and on this the Maharsha explains:”ר”ל משיבין דעתו אם הוא דואג וביגון משיבין האנחה ממנו”. Also the Malbim [שמואל א', ט"ז,י"ד] explains that music has the power to heal depression.
Research has clearly proven that positive music has positive effects on the body, and negative music has negative effects. Music is used today to help heal the sick – not just those who suffer from depression, but all types of sicknesses as is mentioned in the book “The Mozart Effect” by Don Campbell, who has found that the positive straightforward music of Mozart is most suitable for this purpose. On the other hand, it has been found that wild noisy rock music has a serious influence on the heart-beat, and its constant heavy rhythms have been found to change the heart to beat in accordance with the rock beat. This is the reason why many rock musicians die from heart attacks in their forties. Rock music has also been found to cause high blood pressure and also affects digestion [this can be felt at weddings where the bands play loud wild music, besides the pain to the ears, pressure can also be felt in the heart and stomach].
The most serious point that affects us is how rock music actually has the power to influence immoral feelings. “Former rock guitarist, Bob Larson, in conjunction with a physician, offers some light on the relationship between hard rock and immoral behaviour. He contends that the low frequency vibrations of the bass guitar, coupled with the driving beat of the drum, have a decided effect on the cerebral spinal fluid. The fluid in turn affects the pituitary gland which directs the secretion of hormones, resulting in an abnormal balance of primarily the sex and adrenalin hormones. Instead of their normal regulatory function in the body, these hormones secreted under such conditions produce radical changes in the blood sugar and calcium of the body. Since the brain is nourished exclusively by blood sugar, it ceases to function properly, causing moral inhibitions to either drop to a dangerous low or be wiped out altogether.” [Bob Larson: “Rock and Roll: The Devil’s Diversion,” (1970) quoted in “Popular Music” (1987) Vol . 6/3.]
THE INFLUENCE ON PLANTS
Some people may still claim that the effects of experiments on people depend if they happen to like or dislike a type of music. For example, hard rock music can make most respectable people sick, whereas those who are addicted to it enjoy it. They will tell us that it’s all a matter of taste. And if we bring them the case where rats were placed before two boxes, one with the music of J.S. Bach being played in it, and in the other, rock music, and it was found that they all ran to the box with Bach, they will say that rats also have taste for old-fashioned music. However we can not say this when we see that also plants drop dead when exposed to rock and roll, and thrive to respectable forms of music. This was put into practice by a farmer in the South of England who grew giant tomatoes by placing headphones on them and playing the music of Mozart and Bach. The biggest proof that there lies in music a great spiritual power is found in the results of numerous experiments done around the world exposing plants to all types of music and sounds.
An intensive series of studies carried out by Dorothy Retallack of Denver, Colorado, demonstrated the effects of different kinds of music on a variety of household plants. The experiments were controlled under strict scientific conditions, and the plants were kept within large closed cabinets on wheels in which light, temperature and air were automatically regulated. Three hours a day of acid rock, played through a loudspeaker at the side of the cabinet, was found to stunt and damage squash plants, philodendrons and corn in under four weeks.
Mrs. Retallack played the music of two different Denver radio stations to two groups of petunias. The radio stations were KIMN (a rock station) and KLIR (a semi-classical station). The Denver Post reported:
“The petunias listening to KIMN refused to bloom. Those on KLIR developed six beautiful blooms. By the end of the second week, the KIMN petunias were leaning away from the radio and showing erratic growth. The petunia blooms hearing KLIR were all leaning toward the sound. Within a month all plants exposed to rock music died.”
In another experiment, conducted over three weeks, Dorothy Retallack played the music of Led Zeppelin and Vanilla Fudge to one group of beans, squash (marrow), corn, morning glory and coleus; she also played contemporary avant-garde atonal music to a second group. Within ten days, the plants exposed to Led Zepellin and Vanilla Fudge were leaning away from the speaker. After three weeks they were stunted and dying. The beans exposed to the atonal music leaned 15 degrees from the speaker and were found to have middle-sized roots. The plants left in silence had longer roots and grew higher. Further, it was discovered that plants to which placid, devotional music was played not only grew two inches taller than plants left in silence, but also leaned towards the speaker.
In Dorothy Retallack’s own words: ‘If rock music has an adverse effect on plants, is the rock music listened to so long and so often by the younger generation partly responsible for their erratic, chaotic behaviour?’ And: ‘Could the discordant sounds we hear these days be the reason humanity is growing neurotic? [‘Music that Kills Plants’ by T. Olga Curtis, Denver Post, 21.6.70].
Dr. T.C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at Annamalia University, India, has also conducted research into the effects of music on plants. He discovered not only that constant exposure to classical music caused plants to grow at twice their normal speed, but also went on to find what seemed to be one of the main causes of this accelerated growth. The sound waves of a musical instrument, Dr. Singh found, cause increased motion in cellular protoplasm. As a further test, a tuning fork was sounded six feet away from a plant, and this also caused streaming movements in its protoplasm. (Protoplasm is the basic material of which a plant – and animal and human – life is made up.)
In Dr. Singh’s experiments, the violin was found to be the most life-enhancing instrument. Perhaps the most interesting and significant of all of Dr. Singh’s findings was that later generations of the seeds of musically stimulated plants carried on the improved traits of greater size, more leaves, and other characteristics. Music had changed the plants’ chromosomes! Presumably the same effect can result in the negative sense, from bad music. [Day, Langston and De La Warr, ‘Matter in the Making’, Vincent Stuart, 1966].
From all the information brought here we can clearly see that good, clean positive music brings life and positive influences, while negative forms of music cause damage and even death. It is also clear that the effects come from the music and not from the words, and we should not think that the addition of words from Torah sources can cancel the bad influences of the negative music.
“The words finally don’t matter after all,” says Dr. William J. Schafer, “Rock music is communication without words, regardless of what ideology is inserted into the music.” [From “Rock Music” by Dr. William J. Schafer]
“The words only let you know what the music already says.… The music is its own message and it can completely change the message of the words.” [From “The Big Beat” by Professor Frank Garlock]
THE INFLUENCE ON THE SOUL
After all the opinions that have been presented here, maybe some people will be infuriated that we are trying to say that most of the chassidishe rock and roll that they enjoy is obscene and totally unfit to be listened to by any Torah-observant Jew, and these people will still try to dismiss all the expert opinions and say that there are people who have different opinions who they rely on. Who are their experts? Pop stars, disc jockeys, and all the gang of yeshiva dropouts who are making lots of money out of the frum rock music. These are the “experts” who reassure people that their songs are kosher. Unfortunately there are many people who really believe them that this music is kosher – because they enjoy it – and it is impossible to speak sense to them.
We should not be fooled to believe that the creators of Jewish rock music are not aware of what they are doing. They simply do not care. As long as they make plenty of money, they will never admit that they are bringing treife songs into chareidi homes.
“WE ARE MOVING AFTER THEIR MINDS”
Even if we can say that some of the frum singers do not intend to corrupt the young people with their corrupt music, this can not be said about the goyishe pop stars. They know exactly what they are doing, and their control to ruin society is so strong, that an American priest, Reverend David Noebel, wrote extensive articles against the Beatles claiming that they were actually communist agents who were manipulating the behaviour of Western society by means of their music.
Of course, the main motive of all singers is to make money, but there lies more behind the evil music of rock and roll. The English pop star Mick Jagger, in an interview during the 1960’s spelled it out absolutely clearly: “We are moving after the minds, and so are most of the new groups.”
The rock star, David Crosby, has also confided in an interview: “I figured the only thing to do was to swipe their kids. I still think it’s the only thing to do. By saying that, I’m not talking about kidnapping, I’m just talking about changing their value systems, which removes them from their parents’ world very effectively.” [David Crosby in The Rolling Stone Interviews, Arthur Barker, 1981].
Let us not fool ourselves that some frum musicians and singers do not have the same intentions. One chareidi band leader, who holds himself to be the number one wedding band expressed his intentions at a meeting of band leaders in Bnei Brak in Teves, 5764. The meeting was made in protest of the Roshei Yeshivos who had demanded that the music at weddings should be respectable, and he said the following: “We will compromise a little. We will talk with the Rabbis. But if the Rabbis will not agree with us, I will organize every night parties for the bochurim!”
At another opportunity, the same band leader expressed himself on radio [1st of Tammuz, 5764] saying the following: “I am not at all interested what the bochurim want, because I am not obligated to give them what they want. I simply have to know what is the spirit of the time. I have to go with the times!”
These are the intentions of the corrupt people among us – to force modern ideas into the Yeshivos, and influence young people to rebel against their Roshei Yeshivos and parents through their wild music that is made to incite rebellion!
THE RESULTS OF THE INFLUENCE OF ROCK MUSIC
Another important point that has to be mentioned is the direct influence that rock bands have on their audience. During the 1950’s, there were reported riots all over the world by teenagers at concerts and films of rock music. We should not think that this happened by accident. The musicians know very well how to provoke rioting, hysteria and violence.
John Phillips of the group, the Mamas and the Papas admitted this in an interview saying that “by carefully controlling the sequence of rhythms” any rock group can create audience hysteria consciously and deliberately. “We know how to do it,” he said. “Anybody knows how to do it.” And according to the Saturday Evening Post of the 25th of March, 1967, Mr. Phillips and his colleagues were not at all satisfied to allow his words to be unproven. Prior to a concert they were to perform in Phoenix, Arizona, they decided to put their theory to the test. And during the concert, by making use of a certain combination of rhythms, they actually did create a riot among the audience.
The Rolling Stones were protagonists in a similar story. When, during the 1969 Altamont festival, they performed the song, Sympathy for the Devil, the Hell’s Angels ‘bodyguards’ went on a rampage, attacking the audience with such violence that people were severely injured and even killed. Afterwards, Mick Jagger did not seem too concerned about the incident. He and the other group members even refused to attend court in order to identify the murderers who – perhaps because of this – went free. However, one thing Mick Jagger did have to say: “Something like that happens every time I play that song.” [The Secret Power of Music, p.154].
Of course, such things do not happen at frum rock concerts, but this is mainly due to several reasons – 1. The young people in the chareidi audiences, even the lowest of them are better educated than the goyim who attend theses types of shows, and have more self-control to stop themselves from misbehaving in public.
2. The words of the songs do not promote violence and disruptive behaviour.
3. The frum musicians and singers are not interested in promoting violence, because they don’t want the Rabbis to ban them completely.
But we should not think that things do not happen at frum pop concerts. There have been several occasions when the boys threw their shirts at the singer, and at a concert in Tel Aviv the night after Purim 5764, it was reported that the girls did the same thing. In addition to this, the way the young people react when the singers appear on stage or in public is very disturbing. The girls scream and the boys go wild just like the goyim do for when they see their idols, and they try to tell us that these singers are holy people with holy songs!
Let us bring again the words of Plato, that apply just as much to our times:
“Through foolishness they deceived themselves into thinking that there was no right or wrong in music – that it was to be judged good or bad by the pleasure it gave. By their work and their theories they infected the masses with the presumption to think themselves adequate judges….. As it was, the criterion was not music, but a reputation for promiscuous cleverness and a spirit of law-breaking.”
THE DISCO WEDDINGS
The powerful influence of the immoral music has had a strong effect on the chareidi weddings, making them into a show to advertise all the latest hit songs. In some cases the bands will agree to play according to the instructions of the family in a more Jewish style before ברכת המזון, but afterwards they have to go wild and make the wedding into a discotheque. The band leaders say that they are forced to do so by the bochurim, but we can see from the words of the chareidi band leader quoted above that it is not the boys who are dictating what and how to play, but rather a few corrupt individuals who set the style for all the Yeshiva weddings, and they are willing to fight for the right to continue to do this.
Everybody heard about another infamous band leader in Shvat, 5764 at a Bnei Brak wedding, when he saw that the boys took down part of the mechitzah to let the girls come through to dance on the mens’ side, he started to encourage them by playing in a way that aroused the yetzer hora. And we shouldn’t think that he is the only one who knows how to do this. They all know how to play in that way, but they are still waiting to see if that one degenerate can succeed to get more orders, then they will follow his example, because their parnossah is more important than Yiddishkeit.
Chazal tell us that שחוק וקלות ראש מרגילין את האדם לערוה. They did not say that this is the immediate result, but it leads a person in that direction by lowering his moral barriers until he is able to sin. The modern style of “Chassidic” music is built on foundations of שחוק וקלות ראש, and its destructive influence can be seen in non-Jewish society. It has also affected the frum community, and is influencing the weaker segment of the young people to leave the way of the Torah. We have an obligation to throw the yetzer hora out of our simchos by demanding from the musicians to stop insulting us by playing cheap and indecent music, and to play in a way fitting to be heard at a Jewish simchah.
כי דבר ה’ בזה
After all the information that has been brought above, there remains no doubt that rock music and all its related styles are not only completely unsuitable to be used as Jewish music, but also it is absolutely forbidden to use the modern forms of music in songs with words from pesukim, berochos or divrei Torah, since the music is pornographic in nature, and contains many immoral undertones that come from the evil music that originated in the jungles of Africa. Furthermore, the music itself, even without words contains evil influences, and since the majority of the singers, arrangers and musicians in the frum music business do not care at all about the purity of their songs, it is the obligation of all parents and teachers to try their best to ensure that children should not have their minds filled with this indecent music.
There is no doubt that if the goyim took those same pesukim to use in their immoral songs, there would be an uproar in the entire chareidi community. If so, why do people remain silent when the dregs of the chareidi community are using holy words for the sole purpose of making money, and degrading them? If some lunatic would throw seforim on the floor or start ripping the pages out of a sefer tehillim, would anybody sit there and allow him to continue to desecrate כתבי הקודש???
What must we do to stop this plague of obscene music from conquering the minds of our children? First of all, we are obligated to destroy the image of all the chareidi pop idols, who receive the utmost respect in the eyes of young people. Just like the pop stars and movie stars of the goyim are worshipped by the young generation, and control their minds and are responsible for the generation gap that has disconnected parents from their children, so the chareidi rock idols are having the same influence on our young people. Therefore we must ensure that these singers should not be given any respect in any public place, and certainly should not be used as the star attraction at dinners, siyum of the ש”ס, הכנסת ספר תורה, שמחת בית השואבה, or Yeshiva camps.
It is also the obligation of everybody to protest at weddings and other simchos when the band plays rock music, especially those songs that have no connection to the simchah. The majority of people are not interested in turning a wedding into a discotheque, but usually everyone is too embarrassed to put the band in its place. It is of course more of an obligation on the people making the simchah to ensure that the music being played is kosher, and this should be done by hiring a reliable band, and deciding which songs should be played. Also it is advisable to make a contract with the band stating that if they do not play as they have been told, they will not be paid. We must realize that we are dealing here with a serious matter of Chillul Hashem, and degradation of the Torah, and we are not allowed to be quiet in such a case. If you can’t protest, leave the hall immediately.
David Merrell, a high school student from Suffolk, Virginia, won top honours in regional and state science fairs for his experiment involving mice, a maze, and hard rock and roll music.
After establishing a baseline of about ten minutes for the mice to navigate the maze, David divided them into three groups and started playing music to two of the groups for ten hours a day, then put the mice through the maze three times a week for three weeks.
His findings: the control group mice that did not hear any music, were able to cut five minutes off their time; the mice that heard classical music managed to cut 8.5 minutes off their time; and the mice that were exposed to hard rock music took twenty minutes longer to find their way through the maze.
David said, “I had to cut my project short because all the hard rock mice killed each other. None of the classical mice did that at all.”
[Washington Times, July 2, 1997]
THE POWER OF PROTEST
At a party in a Chassidic cheder in Bnei Brak, the talmidim started to sing a new Chassidic song.
Two of the boys however refused to sing with their friends, and instead they placed their fingers in their ears.
“What is the matter?” asked the menahel of the cheder.
“In our house” said one of the boys “we don’t sing songs of Lippa Schmeltzer!”
“If so,” said the menahel, “also in our cheder we will not sing his songs!”
THROW THE TRASH OUT OF THE HOUSE!
At present in this country we are witness to the phenomenon of ‘Greek song’. Two of the mushchossim of the tzibbur who were thrown out of Eretz Yisroel returned to America with their merchandise to sell to the public. One of them made rachmono litzlan, a song about the most important principle of the 13 principles. The second took examples from this to make a song about the destruction of Amolek, and they turned them into jazz רח”ל – literally! What happens to a person’s heart when he listens to this version of mechiyas Amolek? He hears that to wipe out Amolek is jazz! Is it possible to receive any good influence from this? Or chas vesholom the opposite, that he is disconnected from the whole concept of destroying Amolek? Or if he hears ‘Moshiach’ with that imbecilic nigun – is it possible to elevate oneself by hearing this? In this way they are killing the public, and we have to publicize them by name – one is called Freed, and the other is called Werdigger!
Anyone who lets their songs into his house must know what this will cause to his Torah. Elisha ben Avuya, one of the four great members of the chaburah, did not stop singing a Greek song, – and it made him into a different person and finally a heretic! We have to throw this out of the house! Throw it all out! And not let this trash remain in the house!
[Rabbi Yisroel Elya Weintraub שליט"א, Lakewood Yeshiva, Cheshvan, 5755]
“Speech is the expression of the mind. Music is the expression of the soul, and by means of this it is possible to determine the level of a person at any time. The prohibitions related to speech apply also to musical expression.”
The Rebbe of Bobov, Rabbi Ben Tzion Halberstam הי”ד.
“I have heard that there is something new that they call “Chassidic music”. I don’t know whether it is kosher or not, but one thing I can be quite sure about – that it has no connection to chassidus, and I do not know if it is suitable for yeshiva boys to listen to it.”
Rabbi Elazar M. M. Shach זצ”ל.
“The non-religious street has managed to infiltrate into chareidi society by means of the modern music.”
Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapira זצ”ל.
EVERYTHING THE SINGERS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE MODERN CHAREIDI MUSIC
- WHAT IS IT THAT BOTHERS GEDOLEI YISROEL ABOUT THE MODERN STYLES OF MUSIC?
- WHY DO PARENTS AND EDUCATORS EXPRESS THEIR DISTRESS ABOUT THE NEW TYPES OF MUSIC THAT THE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO?
- WHAT HARM CAN COME FROM A SONG?
- IF THE WORDS ARE FROM HOLY SOURCES WHAT DOES IT MATTER WHERE THE MUSIC COMES FROM?
- THE SINGERS AND ARRANGERS TELL US THAT “IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TASTE” – BUT IS THIS REALLY TRUE?
- ROCK MUSIC, ITS SOURCES AND INFLUENCES – THE OPINIONS OF THE EXPERTS, THE PRESS AND THE SINGERS
Jewish music has always used the contemporary styles of non-Jewish music. Why in our generation is there an outcry from Rabbis and educators against this?
“The Torah is not Hefker” presents for the first time to the Chareidi public the truth about the modern styles of music, their sources and effects from the opinions of experts to explain how far music can influence all forms of life.