Head to Head: Elevating Non-Jewish Music
8 years ago Leighest 0
Head to Head: Is there a way to elevate non-Jewish music?
In regards to music, the issue with listening to non-Jewish music lies in the lyrics, as well as the music itself. According to the code of Jewish law, music that is considered immodest, vulgar, or which negates Jewish values should not be listened to or enjoyed. When you listen to a piece of music, you connect not only to the music, the lyrics, and the style, but also the the composer. So, really, when you listen to music, you’re connecting directly to the soul of the person who composed, wrote, or sings the music. We connect with music on a much deeper level than what we realize, and it may not be a good idea to connect to a source that fights the values of Judaism.
When listening to music, consider how it will affect you. Though the music may be enjoyable and fun, the overall effects it leaves is not always a good one.
Another interesting fact to note about non-Jewish music is that following the destruction of the Holy Temple, Jews were banned from listening to music. This was because music was not solely for pleasure, but meant for a higher way of serving G-d. The reason why it once again became permissible was because of the ability that music has to strengthen the connection to and service of G-d. Therefore, when listening to music, it should be done so as a way of strengthening your bond to your Jewish roots, not the other way around.
Music is a controversial topic always debated in the Orthodox community. It can remind us of a certain time, lift someone’s spirit, or change our emotions very quickly. Music is often more powerful than we can comprehend.
There is a lot of scientific research behind music such as why they play certain genres or tempos in coffee houses, doctors offices, etc. When listening to music we have perceived reactions and felt reactions, meaning we can understand the emotion behind a piece without actually feeling them.
Maimonides discusses that if the content of a song is immodest or negates Jewish values, than it should not be listened to. To go even deeper, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe stated that a creator of music puts his all into his work, it reflects a part of his heart and soul. When listening to a piece of music, you connect not only to the lyrics but also the musician. It is therefore understood that you should be careful about the type of music you listen to.
While there is a lot to be said about the effect that music has on the mind, body, and spirit in a negative sense, I think it is important to remember that anything that has a negative aspect also has a positive one.
I believe there is a way to turn the negative aspects of secular media into positive. For example, it has become popular for Jewish artists and musicians to cover popular non-Jewish songs, giving them Jewish lyrics, and a powerful Jewish message. Part of the message of the power of youth is taking materials in the world around us, and using them to elevate and inspire others. How much more so can be said of the power of music, which has the ability to uplift and changes lives.
Because of this fact, I have truly realized how important music is. It is important for all of us to recognize our ability to uplift and change things from negative to positive, beginning with our own music choices.