MBD: I Haven’t Heard Any Chiddushim in Music from Younger Singers


mbdAlso Comments On Those Who Have Been ‘Rodef’ Him and Others

By Elisha Ferber

[Video below.] In an intriguing video interview with COLlive’s Yehuda Ceitlin, Mordechai Ben David Werdyger recently discussed the world of Jewish music, his new album Kulam Ahuvim, mixed sitting at concerts, how his name MBD came about, new singers and composers, as well as those who, he says, have been rodef him and other singers unjustifiably.

MBD relates that he first began singing at the urging of his father, Rav David Werdyger, who, after hearing a composition of his, told him to make an album. In 1973, he released his first album, Original Chassidic Niggunim.

He said, interestingly, that he thought he would ‘chalish‘ (pass out) the first time he got up to sing in public.

“The pachad was awesome,” said MBD.

Speaking about goyishe music, MBD related that he would absolutely not listen to it, and is not willing to give up his Olam Habah for it.

“The Mishnah in Sanhedrin says that those she’ain lohem cheilek l’Olam Habah, in Perek Hachelek. Rabi Akiva says, “Af hakoneh b’sifrei chitzonim, and the Bartenurah says that it refers as well to shirei agovim, love songs.

“Might as well not take a chance,” said MBD.

Asked about using adaptations of non-Jewish songs, he said that yes, absolutely, that has been done.

“Throughout the generation we’ve found that,” said MBD. “Rav Nachman of Breslov talks about it a lot, [and it is] brought in other seforim. The Kaliver took a niggun from a shepherd, as did the Baal Shem Tov,” he said, who was with his talmidim when they heard a shepherd sing a song. They asked him to sing it again, but he didn’t want to. So the Baal Shem Tov gave him some money and he sang it again. This happened a second time as well. By the third time, the goy forgot the niggun as it entered into the realm of kedushah, MBD said.

“The shailah is what you do with the niggun. A niggun is not a dovor gashmi. It depends what the niggun does to you,” MBD averred.

MBD stressed the need to be mechadeish – to come up with new concepts and ideas – in music.

“I’ve been trying, if you’re following my albums, and my career, for the past thirty years. I’ve always tried to be mechadeish…as much as possible, without straying from the yesodos.

I try to be mechadeish all the time.”

MBD continued: “There aren’t too many composers in our field. But I think it is beginning now to chap un (catch on). There are a few new chevrah who are beginning to understand that you can’t just take a song and copy it. And it’s just not a chiddush…just changing the words. But there is some new talent out there, and I guess like the whole field has been developing.”

Speaking about the explosion of the Jewish music scene, MBD said, “For many, many years, I was the only guy around, and Avremel (Fried) came around, and then it was Dedi for a while, but that was it. Now it’s like mushrooms after a rain. There’s like hundreds of new singers.”

Do any of the singers impress MBD?

“I haven’t really heard anything that blew me away. And I think the problem is because everyone is trying to copy. They are not trying to be original.”

Who are they trying to copy?

“I don’t know,” said MBD, “but they’re not mechadeish anything.” I want to hear chiddushim. Lipa (Schmelczer) was the first guy to come around who was really a brilliant composer and song writer. He”s got real talent. But other than that, [there aren’t]…composers that come up with chiddushim other than my neighbor here, my shochein for many, many years, my good friend, Yossi Green, who has come up with some brilliant songs over the years. He’s a real composer. But to say that from the younger chevrah ich hub gehert nayeh groiseh chiddushim…bombeh chiddushim…hub ich nisht gehert.”

It was mentioned during the interview that Lipa has gotten flack for some of his music. MBD relates that he, too, was the subject of criticism in the past.

“I got flack over the years for some stuff… I did a song Let My People Go .. and it was a little upbeat and it was banned in many yeshivos…”

He then commented on efforts to ban certain musical events.

“There are a couple of machers, a handful of guys – not even a handful, a couple of fingers – who have been running around being rodef me and everybody else in the business for years. I mean, I’ve been suffering from these guys for …ever since I remember. [They try] to impose their opinion upon everybody else. So what do they do? They go to rabbonim and they tell them, ‘Eh eh, veist vos tutzach dortin? Mir tzantzed yingalch mit meidlacha. Un es tutzach dortiin pritzus.’ Which is a bunch of lies, of course. But a rov, who is sitting in the koslei bais hamedrash yomam volayla, all he knows is daas Torah, they come to him and say, ‘Yingalach and maidlach tantzen tzuzamen… [and he says,] ‘Avadeh..Hashem yeracheim…Assur!

“As a matter of fact,” continued MBD, “here, when they had a problem with the Lipa event last year, also two machers…ran around to rabbonim, farkoifin lukshen, and there was a letter from Rav Belsky who supposedly signed that issur… First of all, they changed around everything that was written. And second of mall, most of the rabbonim who signed it… most of them never even signed it. They never even saw it. So these are machers. That’s what happens in today’s day and age. All the machers that run around to rabbonim, they sell whatever they want to sell…they get epes a vort from ados, they get one signature [and go to other rabbonim and say,] ‘Der rov hot ge’asart,’ [and the rov says,] ‘Avadeh es iz assur…”

Speaking about his son, Yeedle, who produced his last couple of albums, MBD was quite laudatory.

“…I trust [Yeedle] so much… And  I really believe that he feels and he knows what he’s doing and saying, I trust his opinion very much.”

MBD has been very vocal about people refraining from illegally copying music albums, and thus concluded the interview by saying, “I hope you enjoy [the new album] – the original copy of course…”

To watch the interview, click below:

[media id=154 width=400 height=300]

{Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I wish MBD wouldn’t try to be “mechadesh” and would sing the same style songs as he did in the 70’s – 80’s, how I miss those years!

  2. NUMBER 2 you are so right it really grated at
    my ears. MBD> is really great however so other and since he doesn’t listen to other people’s music how would he know this?

  3. The reality is that the Jewish music that comes out today is not jewisfh music but rather Hebrew music- hebew words and pop rock roll theme

  4. There have been many new styles and genres introduced into the jewish music slowly over the past decade, and the key word is SLOWLY. However, as every new style grabs hold, it becomes over saturated in a very short time by the many assorted singers trying to chap arein. This is what i think he is getting at. One last thing, this is not an issue with jewish music inasmuch as it is an issue with any art form. Just take a quick listen to ‘ other’ music.

  5. number one i totally agree with you! i wish mbd would go back to the old style, the real nice niggunim. i really miss those.
    i think the king of music is shlomo carlbach. we need more hartzige niggunim these days that really stir you .we need more Ana Hashem, Lmaan Achai,Shifchi Kamayim…

    and ya number five is right on target- isn’t that song some Polish pop music? so ya, what about only getting music from Jewish sources?

  6. Wow! nice backyard! Great view!
    I agree that all these young schnooks who come out with a CD, really shouldn’t be given any attention! Any dope can sing. With today’s studio’s you can make a monkey sound good!

  7. Music is not music with mention of Shlomo Carlbach and Abby Rottenberg…

    You know them well MBD, you have used songs of theirs and AR is the mega composer of various songs.

  8. MBD, you are not just the king of jewish music- your whole MEHUS is like a king. that alone that you admire LIPA who is much younger than you etc. shows what a special person you are!!

  9. Aderet has been around waaaaay longer than sameach. Back in the day, Aderet’s main competitor was Menorah Records on Eldridge St on the East Side. Aderet is owned by the Werdyger family and managed by Mendy. As long as there are Werdygers putting out popular music, and there are some young ones as well, check out Yisroel Werdyger’s Bayis Neeman B’Yisroel, Aderet will always have a guranteed slot in the business.

  10. It’s a great view, but I don’t think they should have moved the interview indoors, it creates a somber atmosphere. I think that whoever sets up the interviews for matzav needs to realize that we would rather watch bright encouraging interviews.

    Better Luck Next Time,
    P. HENRY

  11. if the new people arent mechadeish anything then hy does he need to involve a guy like aaron razel in the productionof his new album? face facts, the yeshivishe music world of the MBD types is dead. its been replaced by the Lipas and Berrys and Gertners on one tzad and the very talented Karduners, CHaim Dovids, Razels, Shlomo Katzs on the other.

  12. 3 things to note about “…Speaking about goyishe music”:
    1- How do you “adapt” a non-Jewish song if you did not listen to it and do not know if you will like it.
    2- Note, all these “OKs” to adapt non-Jewish songs has come in the last few hundred years with modern Chassiduth.
    This “rebbe” that “rebbe” OKd it, how does that make it “throughout the generations”??
    3- finally, miraculously the “goy forgot the niggun as it entered into the realm of kedushah”. Huh?

  13. How sad. Instead of putting down others, why doesn’t he re-invent himself and put out a decent album? He sounds so bitter and prefers to focus on negativity to console himself. What a has-been…

  14. it took a long time to bring out his new cd because he had to change his hole mehalech, i think he should leave the music to the young generation no bad feelings