Practical Applications

So what of the practical applications of the argument over musical holiness?

For instance, I like to listen to Jewish Music, oftentimes are work. Sometimes, I will walk the hall humming a tune, or maybe whistling (not loudly) to myself.

If I walk into the bathroom while doing this, is there a problem?

According to my theory on the matter, if humming the tune will cause me to think of the words, then I will thinking about words of Torah in the bathroom, and that is a no-no. If, however, I can avoid this, by either, thinking simply of notes, thinking of the words in english to the rock song that was ripped off or humming a tune that has no words like a niggun, then I am OK.

According to the theory that holds that music has intrinsic holiness, and it is to be determined by the intent of the singer/composer, then I am in trouble only if the tune was composed by someone with good intention.

Essentially, the second theory makes the rule unable to be be practically applied, because the true intent of any composer is impossible to know.

In my opinion, this works as a proof of sorts, philosophically, against the second theory. What I mean by that, is that Judaism is a religion of action. It serves no purpose to have a rule that can’t be practically applied. In fact, a rule with no practical application wouldn’t have been originally created by God, as it would have been a waste, and contrdictory to his perfect nature. So, therefore, such a rule can’t exist. Therefore, the rule necessary by the second theory must be wrong.

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8 responses to “Practical Applications

  1. I asked my Rav and he told me that humming, singing, listening or hearing any jewish music in the bathroom is a no-no. Regarding the whole argument i have been having with you, one more thing that I have not said which might make you understand the power of a jewish niggun that is really Jewish in which it wouldn’t make a difference in intent is the following test. Ask yourself the following questions and if you answer yes then maybe you can say that it is a holy niggun.
    1. Can i use this niggun as part of davening?
    2. Is it appropriate to use this niggun as part of davening?
    3. Will other people be able to sing along and somehow connect with the niggun and davening.

    Now the other test since all music isn’t always for davening is.
    1. If at a tradition Jewish wedding would it be appropriate to dance to this song?
    2. Would the niggun add to the simcha and holiness of the wedding?

    and the lsat case.

    1. Can you sing these niggunim at a Shabbos/Yom Tov Tisch?
    2. Is it appropriate to sing these niggunim at a Shabbos/Yom Tov tisch?
    3. Is it good for a Simcha Beis HaShueva?

    And last but not least,
    Would you feel comfortable with your children listing, singing, and looking up to the people who compose, sing and perform these niggunim.

    “Shlomo the Villiage Idiot”

  2. Every single one of the questions you posed as though they were determinative are all subjective. “Appropriate” is entirely up to individual judgment. Entirely.

    In order: 1. Can i use this niggun as part of davening?
    2. Is it appropriate to use this niggun as part of davening?

    Did you know that one of the most popular tunes for kedusha of mussaf on shabbos (one that if you heard, you would certianly think of as “Jewish”) was originally taken from an Israeli love song? Yet, it is used regularly as part of davening.

    1. If at a tradition Jewish wedding would it be appropriate to dance to this song?
    2. Would the niggun add to the simcha and holiness of the wedding?

    At many frum Jewish weddings in the early ’90’s, they were playing and dancing to the Macarena. Is that a “Jewish” tune. Of course not. Yet, they were dancing to it at a Jewish wedding. (By the way, using the term of conflict in the determination doesn’t help resolve the matter. Does any song add to the “holiness” of the wedding. Well, that’s what we’re trying to figure out!)

    As for this: 3. Will other people be able to sing along and somehow connect with the niggun and davening.

    Isn’t a tacit acceptance of my position entirely that the holiness of any particular depends on the feeling it inspires in the listener, and not anything inherently “holy” in the music. That you put this question as part of your determination tells me you ultimately agree with me.

    And finally: Would you feel comfortable with your children listing, singing, and looking up to the people who compose, sing and perform these niggunim.

    Since I listen to rock-and-roll as often as Jewish music, I really would have no problem with my kids doing the same. I wouldn’t seek to influence their tastes (other than choosing what I listen to in their presence, which will ultimately have an effect). As for looking up to the artists, I wouldn’t want them looking to anyone whose music they listened to, same way I don’t want them looking up to anyone who plays the sports they play and watch.

  3. “Did you know that one of the most popular tunes for kedusha of mussaf on shabbos (one that if you heard, you would certianly think of as “Jewish”) was originally taken from an Israeli love song? Yet, it is used regularly as part of davening.”

    I am not sure what niggun you are talking about but i am making an assumption that i do and all that i can say is that a niggun like that is only sung in the modern shuls and it would never be sung in a yeshivish/chareidi shul. Secondly on SImcahs Torah many people joke around and do many secular tunes, but the Rav of my minyan held that this practice is innappropriate and should not be done.

    I think it is hypocritical to say that you would not let your kids look up to the musicians and the music they listened to and sports stars yet you let them watch the sports and listen to the music. When we were growing up it was much different because your average sports player was not a drug addict and woman abuser, drunk and all sorts of other things and the words in todays music are much more involved in sex and drugs then it was. The reason why i say this is because any kid watching a sport or listening to music is obviously going to be looking up to these people and there is nothing you can do to stop this exept by not letting them watch the sports unless you know the players don’t have a criminal backround and the music if you know the musicians are clean people and their lyrics are clean.
    “Shlomo the Villiage Idiot”

  4. a niggun like that is only sung in the modern shuls and it would never be sung in a yeshivish/chareidi shul.

    If ever there was a comment to make me even more comfortable that I am right, it was this. I don’t guide my life by what the yeshivish/chareidi do. Using that as a proof does nothing for me.

    Nevertheless, you’ve still managed to avoid most of the rest of my substantive argument.

    As for your claim of hypocrisy, I disagree. There is nothing wrong with being entertained (especially by another Jew, even though he may be in the Music business for parnasa), while understanding who your role models should be. I will teach my children, I will be their role model and we will watch sports together. And when they ask me why so-and-so does drugs, I will say “being good at baseball doesn’t make you a good person.”

    I won’t shut myself out from the world and I won’t do that to my kids. I think that’s a bad way to go about your life. Bad things go on, there are bad people about. I can watch them play sports, and use the opportunity to teach my children.

    There’s no hypocrisy there. Good parenting, IMHO. But not hypocrisy.

    Also, you changed what I said to fit your argument. Please don’t skew my words. I didn’t say I wouldn’t “let them” look up to anyone. I said I wouln’t “want them to.” The first, I think, isn’t up to me. The second, though, can be effectuated with good parenting.

    When we were growing up it was much different because your average sports player was not a drug addict and woman abuser, drunk and all sorts of other things and the words in todays music are much more involved in sex and drugs then it was.

    Are you serious? When I was growing up, sports stars were doing drugs and being generally bad role models just as much as today. In fact, you could argue, that with TV and the internet, sports stars are much more image conscious now, and staying away from those things now more than ever. Appealing to the “good old days” is a weak arguing position.

    Almost as bad as appealing to what they do in the “yeshivish” world.

  5. The words and arguments that you have been using are making me think that you are religious because you were brought up that way and are only keeping your religion because you feel obligated to and you want your children to grow up that way. I also feel that you are extremely liberal especially after you said “Almost as bad as appealing to what they do in the “yeshivish” world.” It doesn’t seem like you have repect for the more religious world and can’t see things through there eyes and can only see things through yours.

    Village Idiot

  6. First of all, I honestly don’t care what you think about me, and what labels you’ve decided to apply.

    That said, my opposition to your appeal to the “chareidi” or “yeshivish” world is part of the argument. I don’t think that a group of people that take every opportunity to apply whatever chumras (which are not part of halachah) they can shouldn’t really be viewed as an authority when discussing a philosophical point. You can feel differently, you can think this makes me “liberal”. Like I said, I don’t care. Your arguments are progressivly getting weaker, you haven’t said anything substantive in the last few posts, and I’ve lost the patience to continue having a one-sided argument.

  7. “I don’t think that a group of people that take every opportunity to apply whatever chumras (which are not part of halachah) they can shouldn’t really be viewed as an authority when discussing a philosophical point.”

    Please let me know the chumras you are talking about because i sat in a nice shiur on Shavuos with my Rav discussing the issues of chumra and the halacha with chumra and the example of a chumra that would be against halacha is if there is a woman drowning and a male passerby will not jump in a save her because it is not tznius to swim with the woman and it is not in the laws of negiah to touch the woman. With that in mind i would really like to know the chumras you are talking about because i don’t think you know what you are talking about. Also please let me know when the last time is you learned basic halacha or reviewed halacha that you previously have learned and applied it.

    I don’t agree with you that i have not been able to argue with you and I also don’t agree with you that the sports and rock world were the same when we were growing up. I can list a number of respectible athletes and musicsions that were around while growing up and the list would be at least double what it would be like today. Yes it was bad when we were growing up but it is a lot worse now than the way it was. I think it is also a result of society. When you can be a senator on alcohol and drugs, get into a car accident and not get in any trouble (Kennedy) then it really doesn’t matter what anyone does anyway.

    “If ever there was a comment to make me even more comfortable that I am right, it was this.”

    What makes my statement say that you are right? i don’t see the connection.

    ” won’t shut myself out from the world and I won’t do that to my kids.”

    Who said by censoring what you children listen to and watch is shutting yourself from the outside world?

    “In fact, you could argue, that with TV and the internet, sports stars are much more image conscious now, and staying away from those things now more than ever.”

    This is by far the most rediculous thing you have said. If these athletes cared about their image maybe they would graduate high school and college before becoming a professional. They don’t care about their image or what people think as long as they are making money. The best example of this is Barry Bonds. You think he cares that millions of fans hate him. He’s laughing all the way to the bank. Allen Iverson when he was on house arrest was throwing illegal house parties which was all over the news. Did he care about his image? Absolutely not.

    “Village Idiot”

  8. Pingback: The Great Orthodox Schism « The Noy G Show

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