It Has Arrived: New Hechsher for Jewish Music
Yair Alpert • Matzav.com
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.
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.
"[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:
[Hat Tips: M. L., etc., etc., etc.]