The Matzav Shmoooze: Has Jewish Music Hashkafah Been Lost Completely?

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Dear Editor,

It looks like we’ve lost all sense of appropriateness and hashkafah when it comes to Jewish music and the marketing of it. As long as we say it’s Jewish and we talk about people becoming closer to G-d, it’s okay?

Since when do Jewish singers and marketers talk about marketing their music to the masses? When did it become mainstream to talk publicly about music recorded by Jewish music artists in connection with the Grammys and the Oscars? Where do we draw the line?

Maybe once people started calling Jewish music jobs “gigs,” I should have realized that we’ve lost any sense of Yiddishe taam in what’s being done in Jewish music today.

I’m not going to conclude with a sharp “Shame on them” rant – I’ll leave that to others – but I will say that conversations about recording non-Jewish music, marketing to the non-Jewish market, and allowing the infiltration of non-Jewish music, values and ideals into our machaneh should be removed from any and all platforms so that the wrong message is not sent to our youth – and ourselves. Re-record the conversation and ensure that the proper message is being conveyed.

And in case there is any doubt, let there be a consult with those rabbonim who are ostensibly reviewing and approving the moves being made toward the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in Jewish music hashkafah. I have a hard time believing that such conversation would receive their stamp of approval

A Jew in Pain that We’ve Lost Any Sense of Proper Hashkafah

Far Rockaway, NY

{Matzav.com}

24 COMMENTS

  1. Go eat breakfast and have a great day!

    “Since when do Jewish singers and marketers talk about marketing their music to the masses? When did it become mainstream to talk publicly about music recorded by Jewish music artists in connection with the Grammys and the Oscars? Where do we draw the line?”

    What does this have to do with anything? Jews of all professions have always ‘dreamed’ about making it big. Does Matzav not dream about being quoted by the media of the masses? Don’t doctors, authors, politicians, emergency responders etc look to be accepted by the masses so that Matzav and other will then call it a kiddush Hashem?

    We have always had goyish influences in our music. From the biggest Rebbes to the great chazanim. From Ashkenaz shul nusach and Zemiros to traditional sefardi songs.

    Erlach Yiddim know how to find and embrace kedusha and distant themselves from Tumah. There are BH lots and lots of great Yiddsh music choices. Look for it and you’ll find it and embrace it. Don’t complain about people that have a lower standard of and appreciation of kedusha. Accept the nisyonos that are an itegral part your avodas Hashem and strengthen youself.

  2. Can anyone really pinpoint what truly Jewish music is? Jews have lived around the world, in areas with various musical traditions. Our artists want to earn a living as anyone would. My beef with today’s output from the Jewish music industry is that it’s too often dull, loud, repetitive, and imitative of the least interesting rock music (in instrumentation if not in content). A “new” song can come on, and I can sense in a few seconds what boring tune it will use. Nigunim from the really old days have a soul, a depth and a complexity that we mostly lack now. Of course, the musical IQ of the nearby gentiles was also much higher then.

    I’m not looking to some kashrus inspector to pass judgement on songs. I want our real artistic genius to shine forth.

  3. I can’t make heads or tails out of your drivel. You never made any point. Completely incoherent. Why don’t you stay in Far Rockaway and deal with your neighbors qho are building all those mansions off of Reads Lane? That is worse hashkaficaly, then any music marketing.

  4. Where do we draw the line?

    We don’t. The people involved in such things aren’t asking for our opinions.

    I’m no youngster and for as long as I can remember there were members of the Jewish music industry who said and did controversial things. I suspect that some are actively looking for controversy as it gives them a lot of publicity and the passionate support of the anti-establishment crowd

    You just have to tune them out.

    • Not asking for opinions? Ok, but just like you, other people can also express their feelings and outlook on this matter. Now, ”Looking for controversy”?…..No need to look further than the actual topic he’s referring to! Grammy / Oscar / Universal Studios Etc. For a “so called” chasidish/heimish singer to be affiliated (to say the least…) with this kind of stuff; (and of course with permission from a/his Rabbi. Sure, find me something that doesn’t have a certificate these days? So that makes it right? A public figures actions or decisions needs to be done with utter seriousness, bearing in mind the responsibility). I would rather call that “Controversial”, And not someone or people who are simply “reacting” and decrying how were unfortunately witnessing such decline in morality when it comes to
      keeping to our sacred standers. Yes time changes our approach to topics and we need to adapt one way or another, but the essence of Torah & shulchan orach doesn’t change. Period.

      By the way: Granted, no need to mention names, but when a big star has songs here and there (many years ago) which stem from non-jewish sources, theres a HUGE difference. Theses particular songs can easily be given a jewish
      flavor to it, as oppose to the ones in question here. Its ridicules and dishonest to compare them as all ONE concept.

  5. Forget about the marketing of their music, how about the very songs that are sung today. I go to weddings…and I go often enough, I literally don’t recognize not one song. What happened to all the songs that were sung at weddings over the last 20 years? Now all we hear are these new songs with incredible talent yet no yiddishe t’aam at all and a lot of these songs are not suitable at weddings but they are sung anyway. Additionally, it seems all these new artists that have come on the scene of late…and even some of the older ones who’ve been around a while, it seems they no longer sing songs from pesukim from Tehilim or other areas in Tenach but instead they’re all singing made up words in Hebrew which have no t’aam at all at least to the older generation. All we hear from the artists as to this new phenomenon is that this is what the young generation wants today.. It’s sick on so many levels what has become of the yiddishe music and how the yiddishe t’aam is totally evaporated….

  6. Thanks for raising some important issues.

    Just because someone has a beard, dresses Hasidic, etc., doesn’t mean that everything they do is proper, and בהכשר רבנים.

    I recall an event not long ago when a Hasidic cantor, who wears a shtreimel on Shabbos, sang at a benefit for a Reform Temple (!).

    Is everything allowed for parnuseh??

    Is it about time these people are subjected to some long-overdue scrutiny. The free ride needs to end.

  7. Since when does jewish music have to be with Yiddish. What happened to Hebrew. And the mizrachi/sefarad tradition should have the overall sound of what jewish music should sound like.

  8. As R’ Yehudah Halevi wrote in Cuzari a thousand years ago that although music can be used for coming close to Hashem, it is now in the hands of fools. If that was true then, kal vachomer now.

    The idea that materialistic people dictate Jewish music is loathsome. The few times I actually saw a well known singer I was turned off. One davened in a shul in New York and would walk out in middle of krias hatorah to get some food from the kiddush of the earlier minyan that was finsihed. He would roll back in around Shishi time. The other time, another well known singer yelled at a kid with problems during a kiddush to “get off his rack”. Meaning stay away from me. Don’t get too close to my body.

    If you value your children, filter what they listen to. Even Jewish music

  9. Not only do “Yiddishe” songs have no yiddishkeit, but they immitate the grobkeit and plain Rock-n-Roll tenuos of the goyishe songs. The instrumentation is pure nightlclub! The dancers look like monkeys aping the Goyishe singers of the lowest kind. And the ear-splitting loud playing?!!! Why do w have to go home with a headache and ringing ears from a chasuna? PLEASE!! Let’s bring yiddishkeit back into our simchos.

  10. Why does almost all Jewish music nowadays need to have a backing vocal group of Chassidim?

    Why does nearly all the music produced today, utilize Chassidish or Yeshivish pronunciation? (For some of us we have to try and decode what words are being sung!)

    What happened to the days when Jewish groups pronounced a Cholom as an ‘Oh” and not an “Oy”.

    According to various rabbonim and poskim, this has been the traditional pronunciation since time and memorial!

  11. To A Yid: There is a HUGE difference between trying to make it big in the business or real estate world etc, and trying to make it big in the secular music/entertainment industry! In the entertainment world they glorify and idolize people who represent immorality, crime, and lawlessness.
    Just being involved in that world changes and influences a person. We all know of several big name frum singers and producers who fell for the glitz and glamour and got dragged in. Some returned and made it out ok, some didn’t.

  12. The Ivrit lyrics are annoying. The songs don’t show much musical creativity (they are cookie-cutter productions aimed at mass-marketing). The old songs with 3 or 4 chords on an acoustic guitar repeating words from Tanach had more spiritual content than anything being produced today.

    • Most people don’t know this but you are not allowed to SING pesukim from Tanach by heart. They must be read with the te’amim/trup from writing unless they are pesukim that we regularly daven like shma or Hashem yimloch etc. So that would automatically eliminate something like half of our “jewish music”.
      I heard from Rav Mutzafi in Eretz Yisrael that Rav Eliezer Silver, the founder of Agudas Yisrael in America, came to visit his yeshiva when he was a bachur. After Rav Silver blew them away with a 3 hour shiur, the bachurim started singing something like “yamim al yemei melech” in his honor (which is a pasuk). Rav Silver raised up his arms in alarm and shouted for them to stop. He told the Bachurim it was Assur to sing psukim and that they should not learn from what is happening in America with Jewish music. He proceeded to teach them a song that he had composed from a Chazal instead and the entire Yeshivah sat and learnt a “niggun” from Rav Silver.

  13. i read your article and i sincerely cannot make out heads or tails. which points specifically are you referring to?
    do u mean rockiness/ loud levels/ the idea of a celebrity??

  14. I heard a song on a jewish radio station that sounded like an exact copy of a gospel song with background choir and refrains tell the “composers” to stop listening to goyishe music especially brazilian

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