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January 18, 2010

Haredim Launch Music Hechsher

Music Hechsher Seal Percussion should be used sparingly, guitar and saxophone should not be used, and all forms of modern music are forbidden.

It Has Arrived: New Hechsher for Jewish Music
Yair Alpert • Matzav.com

Music Hechsher Seal A new committee in Eretz Yisroel has been formed to provide hashgacha on Jewish music. It is not yet clear who will feel obligated to adhere to the guidelines of the new committee which will affix their seal to music that it deems appropriate Jewish music.

The committee, comprised of four individuals, will give its approbation to those music albums that they feel is appropriate for the every Jewish home and will enhance one’s connection to the Ribono Shel Olam.

It is not clear if lacking the new certification will automatically mean that a given album is not considered acceptable to the masses. However, obviously, say those in the Jewish music industry, this initiative needs the majority of people to honor it for it to have any noticeable effect. Whether this will happen is very uncertain.

Along with the announcement of the new music hashgacha, the committee released a list, in Hebrew and in English, of various guidelines regarding the playing of music, which instruments are permitted, and more. For example, the guidelines state that when singing a tune to words of a holy source, it should be sung carefully and with respect. The guidelines also discuss misbalances between rhythm and melody, and states that instrumentation should suit the meaning of the words of a song.

Guitar Other information in the guidelines include that percussion should be used sparingly, guitar and saxophone should not be used at all, and all forms of modern music, including pop, reggae, disco and rap, are forbidden.

The English guidelines can be seen by clicking here and here, and then click on the image to magnify it.

Note that this not a ban, but rather simply a hashgacha.

According to sources in Israel, there is a movement to counter this new effort, with organizers pushing for consumers not to purchase any albums that possess the new hashgacha.

Update: From our research and conversations, we have not yet found any of the gedolim publically supporting or giving their haskama on this endeavor at the present time. The committee may eventually announce who has supported this initiative, but at the present time they have not yet done so.

This appears to a rehashed ban attempt from the same rabbi, Efraim Luft behind earlier attempted bans.


Rabbi Luft relied heavily on the KKK publication The Southerner for his 'proof' of the corrupting nature of pop, rock and jazz music, and Yated Ne'eman, the haredi 'newspaper,' picked up Luft's ravings and used them approvingly. Here's an example:

"[Rock music] will erode the entire moral structure of man . . . of spirituality in holy marriage . . . all the white man has built through his devotion to God." (The Southerner, March 1956, p.6)

And here's a sample of Yated's line of reasoning:

In earlier times, most of the non-Jewish music was respectable and could be used for singing with holy words. Even simple peasant music was clean and fit for playing at Jewish simchas. But in modern times, with the development of recording and radio and the entertainment business that catered to the masses, a new purpose was found for music -- to arouse the yetzer hora.

Ha'aretz profiled Rabbi Luft in 2008, and the Jerusalem Post covered him, as well:

"We might be able to adopt Bach or Beethoven, music with class, but not goyishe African music and beats.…

"There are certain types of music, such as rap and reggae, that are disgusting and have no place in our community."…

The whole idea is that there are types of music that have no place with respectable people. Respectable people listen to decent music and immoral people list to indecent music…

It has been proven that rock music has a very negative effect on people and on animals and plants, while classical music has a very positive effect."

Here are Matzav's scans of the 'new' rehashed guidelines:

Music Guidelines 1 
Music Guidelines 2

Previous Posts: 1, 2, 3.

[Hat Tips: M. L., etc., etc., etc.]

Comments

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These clowns should be forced to listen to the Ring Cycle 24/7. (In fact, listening to it just once takes close to 24 hours (about 16, actually.) I recommend the Chicago Symphony Orchestra version conducted by Solti (a Jew) with Brigit Nilsson as Brunnhilde (not Jewish).

Great music. No guitars. No saxophones.

Mr A, I'm surprise that you of all people are unaware that Wagner performance was once a Jewish thing, before the war, many of the great Wagnerians were Jews or married to them (Bruno Walter, Lotte Lehmann, Emanuel List, Fredrich Schorr, and the greatest of all, Lauritz Melchior, was an open anti-Nazi and left the country during the war). Bruno Walter's Walküre was an act of resistance recorded in Austria when the Nazis forbade them to work in Germany.

Anyway, this is all about control and getting publicity. Nowadays in the chareidi world you either need to be descended from someone famous or you have to pull a Glenn Beck to get attention, writing a real sefer gets you nowhere, and even the ArtScroll books are now too numerous to get attention (and anyway, they name them after the money donators rather than the author for the first time in Jewish History). So if you are some loser with 10 kids and a nasty wife living in a tiny cramped apartment and you want to appear in Yated Neeman, you have to create a new chumra. And if it reads like Nazi propoganda, well, back in Europe things were better...

You know, of course, that the Zionist Conference led by Herzl opened with the theme from Tannhauser?

I'm not unaware of it at all, AC.

Walter: 1/2 Jewish, Lotte Lehmann, 1/2 Jewish, etc. And of course, Wagner has been performed by the Israel Philharmonic, with Daniel Barenboim conducting.

As you probably suspected all along, I'm a big Wagner fan, although I never much cared for Parsifal.

Of course this is in line with one of Shmarya's original gripes about the american haredi world, but the line of the Sotuherner is the evil of black/african music.

According to Rabbi Luft, "African" music is bad, but music written by holy German composers is OK!!

This is nothing suprising. We already knew that orthodox judaism has a thought police.

Actually Api, it's the Vienna Philharmonic under Solti (real name: Stern), not the Chicago Symphony. I just bought a new remastering of it on SACD. Still like the 1955 Beyreuth performance of it by Kleiber better though.

The use of "swing" both in the singing and instrumental accompaniment should be avoided.

As Wayne and Garth would say:

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that schwing!!!

Sorry, that's Keilberth, not Kleiber...

that's it...keep making rules, see where people go. there will soon come a time when the masses of religious jews will take a stand and say with one voice, "stop binding our hands, stop shackling our hearts, stop enslaving our minds"
i don't even need to make an arguement that proves the stupidity of this issue. it speaks for itself.

I'm sorry, but you have to be a glutton for punishment to do the Ring in one sitting.

All those bloody leitmotif's!!!

And to make things worse contemporary composers are expanding upon this themes!!

A year ago I spent an excruciating hour at a LASO concert at the Hollywood Bowl listening to a program by a modern composer who began with last few bars of Götterdämmerung and then went into an all percussion piece representing Alberich having survived the apocalypse.

Thank G-d the rest of the program was Holst's Planets!!!

I recall a wedding, with a mehitzah (divider between men and women), where the men thought that the women were talking too loudly. A man took to the microphone and announced, "It is requested that the opposite-side-of-the-men's-side be quiet."


On his assertion "It has been proven that rock music has a very negative effect on people and on animals and plants, while classical music has a very positive effect."

I wonder if Rabbi Luft watched this episode of Mythbusters....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_%282004_season%29#Talking_to_Plants

Seems like plants like heavy metal.

This is typical of the Haredim: since they have nothing better to do with their time (ie-go to work and earn a living rather than accept welfare), their minds-which might not be such a terrible thing to waste-focus on minutiae. These people actually remind me of children between 8 and 10 that are making up new rules to a game and changing them to suit whatever mood they happen to be in at the time.

Ridiculous

Well, why not.

Actually, some 500 years ago, the catholic church "invented" classical music by forbidding dissonances, and giving clear rules of composition (the so-called Palestrina Style).

So perhaps this will be the start of a whole new era of innovative jewish music?

As they say: If you get caught by the censors, it plainly means you were not subtle enough...

The craziest part of this article is that there actually some people who care. Somebody out there is throwing out his Jewish music albums just because the musicians didn't pay off the rabbi

does that mean I have too throw out all my ac/dc music and Guns n roses?

This is idiotic many songs that are song in shul and or at home for shobbos (zmiras) where originally gentile songs

Will there be a fee?

Please, Seymour, now you're making it personal.

Please cradle your AC/DC and GnR albums gently in your arms. Do not even think of bringing harm to those masterpieces.

Scene 1
a rundown yeshiva classroom somewhere in orange county

bochur - rebbe, I have a confession to make. I listened to a song that didn't have a hechsher.

Dirty fat rebbe - oy. How could you? You must be stronger. You must fight your yetZer harah. Come sit on my lap sweetie. Let me squeeze you to toughen you up.

"There are certain types of music, such as rap and reggae, that are disgusting and have no place in our community."…

These men need some exposure to Matisyahu. One may argue about the reggea style, but his lyrics are far more respectfully and emotionally conveyed than some of the flat renditions that are more likely to get this certification.

Rob, the one I have, which is probably the best of the Ring Cycle CDs, was recorded by Solti and the Chicago Philharmonic, I believe in the late 1960's until early 1980's.

The recordings were remastered recently, and I'll probably buy the new set (not that CD's ever wear out).

No Ring Cycle performance, including those I went to at the Met last year, ever will compare. There is no Brunnhilde like Nilsson. Possibly not even the real one.

I wonder what kind of music 'decent' people like Kolko, Tropper and Mondrowitz listen to?

Dr. Dave: I never did the Ring in one setting (actually, in Bayreuth it would be four settings, consecutive days). I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment.

I understand the seats in Bayreuth are quite uncomfortable.

This had to be the silliest thing I found in a long time. I would continue to proudly play my hechsker free Jewish music. They can pay ME to hear it.

This is such a silly topic. It might as well be, "Kosher Music: "In G$d we Tru$t"

Luft is an ignorant racist.

Blog in the DM has a nine part analysis of Luft's book on this.

See: http://blogindm.blogspot.com/2008/10/in-review-r-ephraim-lufts-torah-is-not.html

Api,
I certainly agree with you on Birgit Nilsson as Brunhilde. What a heartbreaking performance in both the 2nd and 3rd acts of Walkure. However, Solti never recorded a Ring Cycle with Chicago (although they did perform one in a "concert" setting (without costumes), the Ring Cycle that you're thinking of is the one that Solti did on Decca/London Records with the Vienna Philharmonic recorded between 1958 (Das Rheingold), 1962 (Siegfried), 1964 (Gotterdammurung), and 1966 (Walkure). It's the "standard" of all of the Ring cycles and the first one recorded complete and in-studio.

Apologies to the Beatles:

I LOOK AT YOU ALL
SEE THE LUFTMENSCH THAT´S SLEEPING
WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS

I HEAR THE BOYS CHOIRS
AND IT'S ME THEY ARE CREEPING
STILL MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS

I DON´T KNOW WHY NOBODY TOLD YOU
HOW TO UNFOLD YOUR BAN
I DON´T KNOW HOW THE KLAN CONTROLLED YOU
THEY ALSO HATE THE JEWS

I LOOK AT THE DISC
AND I NOTICE IT´S TURNING
WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS

WITH EVERY MISTAKE
THE CHAREIDIM AREN'T LEARNING
STILL MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS

I DON´T KNOW WHY LUFT WAS DIVERTED
HE WAS PERVERTED TOO
I DON´T KNOW HOW MUSIC IS INVERTED
IT WILL JUST BORE THE JEWS

I LOOK AT YOU ALL...

You're right. I just looked at the box set. I was confused because Solti later became the conductor of the Chicago Symphony.

"The use of "swing" both in the singing and instrumental accompaniment should be avoided."

But that would rule out Benny Goodman.

Sorry, "rabbis." If it's between you and Benny, I'm going with Benny. Any time.

This story points out a serious issue within the frum world. A jerk like this guy (picture here: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/luft.jpg) writes stupid (see his pseudoscience), ignorant, racist nonsense, and now instead of everyone saying, shut up you pferd, as they would have in the past, now one has to "disprove" him with all sorts of articles, in a sense giving him a kind of halachic high ground.

The scene 1 comment has me laughing. This attempted music ban is nothing new. They stopped Lipa. I wa seven told by a Rabbi once that MBD is treif. The best thing to do is to ignore them.

Ya know, back in the day, I saw the Butthole Surfers in concert do their own unique version of Hava Nagilah.

Very tasteful.

It would have truly been a shame to have missed it.

"The use of "swing" both in the singing and instrumental accompaniment should be avoided."

But that would rule out Benny Goodman.

Sorry, "rabbis." If it's between you and Benny, I'm going with Benny. Any time."

Heh, it's not just Benny Goodman, they'd also ban Lawrence Welk. Besides swing was big in the 40's. I know the ravs in the 40's had other things to worry about, but if swing was such a problem, some of them could have gotten around to banning it.

"Walter: 1/2 Jewish, Lotte Lehmann, 1/2 Jewish, etc"

And don't forget Reb Elvis z'l.

Yossel,

MBD?

Yated said in the article:

"In earlier times, most of the non-Jewish music was respectable and could be used for singing with holy words. Even simple peasant music was clean and fit for playing at Jewish simchas. But in modern times, with the development of recording and radio and the entertainment business that catered to the masses, a new purpose was found for music -- to arouse the yetzer hora."

Many of the tunes to our prayers are taken from German drinking songs. From my reformed, ashkenazi Nusach, the following prayers were sung to such melodies: Adon Olam, Aleinu, the Birkat, and many others.

Another quote: "The use of "swing" both in the singing and instrumental accompaniment should be avoided."

They're about 70 years too late. The Barry Sisters were singing Yiddishe melodies with a swinging backbeat since the early days of radio.

Let's get down to what he really wants:
Little boy choirs singing slow yearning melodies with no beat or harsh instruments to disturb "the moment".

To Mr. A and Rob Wisler:

I'm from Chicago and never knew that Sir George Solti was Jewish. I just assumed (from his name) that he was Italian.

I was in Budapest in October taking a Jewish themed tour, and the tour guide listed a whole bunch of famous Hungarian Jews. I was quite surprised (and elated) to hear George Solti's name.

i wonder if mariza singing 'meu fado' got hekhsher!
by the way, how does it work?
ok, no milchig-fleishig, but like mariza gets hekhsher to be heared by women, no? for us men alas, it's kol baisha etc... well, pity! sure beats avraham fried or shweiki anytime of the day.
she looks besser too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cKv6EHNOTk

This is like a movie I saw with Kevin Bacon. A rabbi in a small town, played by John Lithegow, was trying to ban rock music and dancing... no, that's not it.

Oh, I remember! It was Christian Bale. A rabbi, played by Kenneth Brannaugh, in 1930s Germany, was trying to ban swing and swing dancing... maybe, not.

Since Shmarya has challenged me to a fight, I just downloaded the Gillette "Look Sharp!" March. Would that get a hecksher?

Speaking of swing, the Andrews Sisters weren't Jewish, but recorded "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen." How about that?

Mr A: Bei Mir Bistu Schayn - great song, but Scholem Secunda wrote it, he also wrote cantorial music, chamber music, all around underappreciated composer.

My tuchis hurts at the thought of the entire Ring in one sitting. I've only seen one of them live -either Das Rheingold or Siegfried, can't remember - and it had at least 2 intermissions.

AC -
money donators ?

Why not merely "donors?"


"Even simple peasant music was clean and fit for playing at Jewish simchas."


Have these "rabbis" ever even listened to the folk musics of the world? (Stupid question, I know.)

Sure, a lot of songs were "clean," but a lot were not - not by the "rabbis" standards at least. Many, many songs about falling in love, meetings ones lover (not tzniut), etc. Then, a lot of songs about cheating lovers, revenge, despair over being crossed, etc. And, of course, the whole corpus of songs filled with all sorts of clever euphemisms for sexual encounters, body parts, etc.

Then there are the folk songs of North America, Ireland and Britain, which in many of them, at least one of the characters always ends up dead by the end of the song.

There are rock bands out there whose entire discographies are more "clean" and wholesome than the "simple peasant music" of yore.

OCR: I lose syntax when excited.

Clear: "rabbi" luft is so wrong it doesn't even pay to start arguing rationally. Keep in mind that medieval Hebrew poetry, by the same authors who wrote the Kinot, and much of the prayerbook, wrote poems dealing with all of the subjects you enumerate above, some quite rowdy.

I recommend the Leib duo of Tropper and Pinter to the ad hoc anti music committee. They have a long and distinguished career of working together to control only other peoples vices. May G-d spare us from the holier than thou charlatans amongst us.

whenever i hear the guitar or saxophone, i inexplicably begin to furiously masturbate. i've stopped going to chasunahs because of my powerful yetzer harah and am glad that someone is finally is someone being bold enough to take measures to cater to the needs of people like me.

That would have been "Siegfried." Das Rheingold is about 2 1/2 hours long, with only one intermission.

The first 2/3 of "Siegfried" is boring. The last 1/3 makes up for that.

One of the Andrews Sisters, I forget which, married Vic Schoen, the singing group's bandleader. Thus the sond has a second meaning.

"I'm sorry, but you have to be a glutton for punishment to do the Ring in one sitting"

yeah, I did it when I was about 18 (and a big opera fan). They played it on one day in the radio, starting aroung 6:30 and finishing after midnight. I really got up this early on a sunday and sat all through it.

But truth to be told: I never acquired a liking for the "Ring" in particular or Wagner´s music in general. Lohengrin or Fliegender Hollaender are quite OK, but anything from the ring onward is not my taste (except, perhaps, Meistersinger)...

PS: actually as a fan of classical music, my preferences fully fit their criteria...

It is not a novelty that rabbonim pronounce bans about music. For further reference see Israel Adler´s book "La pratique musicale savante dans quelques communautes juives en Europe aux XVIIe–XVIIIe siecles".

"The final end and aim of thoroughbass, should be none other than the Glory of G-d and the recreation of the mind.

Where these are not kept in view, there can be no real music, only infernal jingling and bellowing."

J.S. Bach

I guess people will have to get rid of their "Guitar heroes" games....i can't wait for the advertising claiming that a kind and generous avreich has agreed to receive your CDs and Guitar Heroes games and will give you in return new kosher CDs and the kosher game called "Violin Gedolim".
Well worth the swap.

Mr A, gotta take issue with you on this point: "The first 2/3 of "Siegfried" is boring. The last 1/3 makes up for that."
Aside from Adorno calling Siegfried the most sublime work of Wagner, how can you call Act 1 scene 3 dull? That's the forging of Nothung, perhaps the best bit of the whole Ring! Perhaps you meant Die Walkure, where the first 2/3 are the family part?
Anyway, coming back to this forum, one can discuss whether Mime was meant to be an antisemitic figure :)

Saxophone has been good to my family. Grandpa Beckerman played saxophone, clarinet and guitar, making money in various well-known Jewish bands, such as "Cherniavsky's Yiddishe Jazz Band," as well as playing sax with the Philharmonic around WW1. He played his Selmer tenor until he was about 90, when it got too heavy for him.

His son, Uncle Jack, worked his way through college and grad school (Michigan) playing in dance bands. I have his old Buescher Aristocrat alto, not that I play very well.

This sort of thing might not have affected them that much, as neither of them was religious.

These four losers have been given too much blog and media attention already. Let them do something constructive with their lives instead of trying to dictate what people can listen to. Who the hell appointed them as the music police?

Die Walkure has its moments of languor also, but I was squirming through the first two-things of Siegfried.

Mr A: You don't like bears? :)

Steve: The gentiles have the Three Tenors. We have the Four Losers.

YL,

I wonder if the Losers will be putting out an album any time soon. They seem to be so knowledgeable about music, lol. They should listen to the latest Mordechai Ben David (MBD) album. The pulsating disco beats reminds one of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" or a night at Studio 54. I don't think MBD will be applying for their hechsher any time soon.

YL,

Just thought of a great parody. How about the "Lonesome Foursome Losers" with apologies to the Little River Band.

You got to love it: "When the saxophone was adopted for use in jazz bands in the 1920s it received the name "the Devil's Flute because of its indecent seductive tones." footnote 6

The people who wrote this need psychiatric help - stat!

AC:

Yes I do. I'm on record here as a Chicago Bears fan (used to live there).

This is another example of what I call the "Islamization" of Judaism.

Ridicoulous.
When we had real Gedolim, bullshit like this just never surfaced. Sadly, they are no more, so it is surfacing now.
Just like by shavers, R' Moshe Feinstien paskened lift and cut is muttar, but yener chacham today in Lakewood decides that we all have to pay them to mangle our shavers.

Many of the tunes to our prayers are taken from German drinking songs. From my reformed, ashkenazi Nusach, the following prayers were sung to such melodies: Adon Olam, Aleinu, the Birkat, and many others.GooD luck

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