Volume 9 Number 98
                       Produced: Mon Nov 15 20:15:44 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Classical Music with Religious Content (2)
         [Jonathan Goldstein, Mayer Danziger]
Justice, Righteousness and Torah Study
         [Michael Allen]
Peace Accords
         [Morris Podolak]


From: <Jonathan.Goldstein@...> (Jonathan Goldstein)
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 93 00:23:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Classical Music with Religious Content

In Volume 9 Number 91 Sharon Hollander (<sjh@...>) writes:

>       Does anyone know if there are any halachic problems with listening
> to classical music that has religious content, such as requiems, masses,
> chants, etc. (aside from any problems associated with music in general).
> Are there any distinctions based on your motivation for listening, the
> actual content of the piece, and the language it is in (in other words -
> if it is in latin and you don't understand it at all does that make a
> difference?).

I too am interested in this topic.

According to R. Gedalia Gurfein (now doing kiruv work in Sydney),
listening to music of any sort exposes the listener to whatever
spiritual effects the music might convey. I don't know his sources.

Such effects are embedded in the music by the composer's state of being
at the time the music is composed, and also by the performer's state of
being at the time the music is performed.

example: a pop-song written by someone while in a violent mood and played 
         by a heavy-metal satanical group will tend to steer the listener 
	 towards violent deviant behaviour

Quite seriously, I'm not sure how the listener of a hassidic tune
composed while in awe and love of HKBH, but used as the sound-track in
an advertisement containing scantilly clad women, would be affected.

Since I played trombone for quite a few years in a brass band and an
orchestra, and now learn classical guitar, I am interested to discover
how playing various sorts of music will affect me.

Does anyone have references that will help?


Jonathan Goldstein       <Jonathan.Goldstein@...>       +61 2 339 3683

From: diverdan!<mayer@...> (Mayer Danziger)
Date: 11 Nov 93 19:17:28 GMT
Subject: Classical Music with Religious Content

Rabbi M. Feinstein in Igrot Moshe Yore Deah vol 2 no 111 states:
1) Music (with or without words) performed to honor a religous diety is
2) Music with words of religous praise are prohibited even when performed
   in a secular setting. No distinction is made regarding language or
3) Religous music without words of praise in a secular setting (aside from any
   problems associated with music in general) is permitted but R. Feinstein
   calls it a "davar mechuar" - an ugly/disgusting thing. The instruments
   used cannot be instruments generally used for religous purposes.
Please see above responsa for more complete discussion.

Mayer Danziger 


From: Michael Allen <allen@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1993 12:44:17 -0600
Subject: Justice, Righteousness and Torah Study

In m.j, vol 9, #89, the following was said:

>> It is clear that Torah she-bikhtav, in particular the prophets, do not
>> have any real notion of Torah study.
>> ... (It is well known that yeshivot will not allow the students an
>> afternoon off of learning so that they can perform acts of hesed,
>> arguing that Torah study is more important. ...

I was very surprised to see an article like this in m.j.  I would have
expected wording more like:

I don't see where the justification for today's stress on Torah study can
be found in the in the Torah sh'bichtav.  I am particularly concerned
that today's Yeshivot seem to be stressing Torah study at the expense
of other important values, such as g'milut chasidim.

Be that as it may, I would like to respond to the issues raised.  The
justification for the primacy of limud Torah (learning and teaching
Torah) can be found in many places in Tanach.  Perhaps one of the
clearest places is in the v'ahavta, "v'shinantam l'vanecha, v'dibarta
bam.  b'shivt'cha b'veitecha, u'v'lechtecha vaderech, u'v'shochabecha,
u'v'kumechah" (Deut. 6:7).  My (lightly) interpreted translation: "You
shall inculcate/drill them (Torah matters) into your children, and you
shall speak about them, when you are at home and when you are out
conducting your affairs, until you you to bed and from when you get up
in the morning."  That is, limud Torah is an obligation everywhere and
at all times.  Further, in the seemingly extra phrase "v'dibartah bam",
the word "bam" can be read as an acronym for "b'reisheet" (the first
word of the Torah sh'bichtav), and "mei'eimatai" (the first word of the
Torah sh'b'al peh).

In answer to the second issue, I must first say I don't know of Yeshivot
that forbid the talmidim to take some time off to perform such things as
g'milut chasidim and bikur cholim.  To be fair, I don't know of any
Yeshivot that organize field trips for such things either.  But more to
the point, we have a deep tradition that limud Torah increases harmony
in the world.  Of course, learning must lead to actions (which must lead
to more learning), but there is always a tension.  This may be compared
to the situation of a young medical student.  Should he take every
afternoon off to do volunteer work in a soup kitchen thus putting off
his graduation, or should he stay and study so he can start healing
sooner?  The point is that there are trade-offs and decisions like this
must be individualized and must not be trivialized.


From: Morris Podolak <morris@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 93 03:52:47 -0500
Subject: Peace Accords

I think a number of people misunderstood my intention with regard to my
posting on Rav Zemba ztz"l.  Let me restate my postition in more detail.
In a previous posting someone (I apologize in advance for not including
names, I have not kept records) pointed out that Rav Zemba had compared
cutting out parts of Israel to cutting out parts of the Torah.  The
point, I assume, was to add this to the many arguments against giving up
land for peace.  All I intended to point out in my posting is that
arguments that involve the security of Israel and the Jews living there
must be considered very carefully.  I suggested, in as polite and
careful a way as I could, that perhaps Rav Zemba had made an error in
judgement, and that perhaps his statement should be taken with some
caution.  I also intended to suggest that perhaps we should take what we
can and work from there, rather than wait in exile for the whole
package.  Perhaps we were meant to get it in parts.  On looking back, I
can see how the tone of my statement could have been taken as
inflamatory, and for this too I apologize.  In view of some of the
responses I have received, I think some issues need to be set straight.
If the following statements seem inflamatory, that is partly my aim. :-)

1. The infallibility of our sages: A great many Torah giants urged their
congregations not to leave Europe.  There were excellent reasons for
this.  Both Israel and the United States were known to be places where
religion was very weak, and where there was a great danger of
assimilation.  This feeling was so strong that some rabbis forbad their
followers to go to Israel.  There are strong arguments for saying that
their appraisal of the situation was incorrect in that they did not
forsee the holocaust.  It is difficult to say this about such giants as
the Chafetz Chayyim, and Rav Elchanan Wasserman, but the fact remains
that our sages are not always right.  Let me cite just two examples.
Rabbenu Yona, the 13th century sage was instrumental in getting the
inquisition to burn the RAMBAM's works.  He like many other sages of his
day felt that the RAMBAM's Moreh Nevuchim was a work so close to heresy
as to be dangerous.  In many respects he was correct.  Still, his
appraisal of the situation was faulty.  The RAMBAM's works may be
unhealthy for many people, but he did not forsee that the Inquisition
would go further.  The idea of burning Jewish works appealed to them so
much that not long afterwards they burned the Talmud on the same spot.
Rabbenu Yona realized his error and set off for the RAMBAM's grave to
apologize.  Rabbi Akiva thought that Bar Kochba was Mashiach.  Whether
he could have been or not is beside the point.  Rabbi Akiva misjudged
the situation, and all Israel paid for that error.  There are many other
examples.  No one is infallible, not even the sanhedrin in matters of
halacha, all the more so individuals in matters of politics.

2. The holocaust: This is a very sensitive subject, and several people
were upset by my implication that people could have been saved if they
had gone to Israel.  I certainly did not mean to imply that they are
somehow to blame.  My parents survived the holocaust, but three of my
grandparents and five of my uncles and their families did not.  I
certainly don't blame them.  My father tells me that it was extremely
difficult to go to Israel in those days.  He was in Warsaw when a large
group of Jews, with permits, set out for Israel.  They were beaten
mercilessly by the Polish police.  My suggestion is that the religious
leaders are not totally free of blame, however, not in the generation of
the holocaust and not in the preceeding generations when the whole issue
of returning to Israel was first raised.  I am certainly in no position
to criticize the giants of previous generations, so I will let one of
those giants speak for me, Rabbi Issachar Shlomo Teichtal ztz"l.  Rabbi
Teichtal was the Rav, Av Beit Din, and Rosh Yeshiva of Pistyan.  He was
killed defending a fellow Jew in 1943.  In his book "Aym Habanim
Semaicha" he acknowledges that there is a problem with nonreligious
elements in Israel, but he adds that if all the charedim (very orthodox)
would have lent a hand to the settlement of Israel, they would have more
of a say in how it developed. In other words the problem that existed in
Israel in the thirties might have been averted if the sages in the
previous generation had had more foresight.  He writes "Even though one
should judge those charedim who kept themselves aloof to their credit,
that they acted in this way because of their extreme care, and their
fear that perhaps there was lacking the complete spirit of the Torah as
is necessary.  But, they will excuse us, they forgot the words of our
teacher the chassid in his Chovot Halevavot (in the inrtroduction) where
he writes 'from carefulness - that you don't overdo being careful' ..."
In other words if you wait until you are absolutely sure beyond any
doubt, you would never do anything.  This, according to Rabbi Teichtal,
was the reason that the religious leaders in Europe at the turn of the
century did not participate in building a Jewish state, and that is why
it developed into a nonreligious state.  A state in which they later
found they could not participate.  Perhaps Rav Teichtal's strongest
accusation is the following: "And now, who takes upon himself the
responsibility for that kosher blood that was spilled in our days [he is
writing during the holocaust] through our many sins.  And I think that
all those leaders who held Israel back from going and and joining the
builders [in the land of Israel] will not be able to cleanse their hands
and say 'our hands did not spill this blood' [see Devarim, 21:7]" It was
these words that I had in mind when I made my suggestion about Rav

3. Additional issues with regard to Gaza: There are several other points
to be made, but first a story from Rav Schwadron, the Maggid of
Yerushalayim.  He tells that once while he was at home working he heard
a child scream in the street.  It turned out that one of the children in
the neighborhood, a boy named Meirka, had hurt himself.  The maggid and
his wife ran out, picked the child up, and started carrying him to the
hospital.  In the distance the child's grandmother saw them carrying
someone, and assumed it was their own child.  She came to comfort them,
saying that G-d would surely help.  When she got closer she saw who it
was and started screaming "Gevalt, Meirka".  It is easy to be calm and
trusting when it is someone else's child, but when it comes to your
Meirka it is another story.  I have one son who is 18, and has gotten
his draft notice.  A second son had his 15th birthday this summer.  I
worry about them.  The other day I saw a rabbinic meeting on the news
where the majority opinion seemed to be not to give up any part of
Israel.  I know many of the people present at that meeting, and honor
and respect their knowledge and character.  Still, I couldn't help
wondering how many of them had sons in the army.  For most of them it
isn't their Meirka they are making decisions for.

There is another important point that many people are not aware of.  It
is not just the personal danger to which a soldier is exposed to in Gaza,
it is the spiritual danger.  In Gaza and in Yehudah and Shomron you have
to deal with terrorists.  You have to be tough, and sometimes brutal.
The brutality sometimes enters the soul.  Good Jewish boys go off and
become an occupying power.  It is not healthy.  It happens that people
return from duty in these areas slightly changed, slightly less caring.
I suppose a similar phenomenon was seen in Viet Nam veterans.  I hope I
never see it in my sons.

There is still another problem that is not unrelated (although it would
take too long to explain here.  I'll be happy to do so privately), and
that is the growing animosity between the religious and the nonreligious
here in Israel.  I think this is a much more serious problem than any
other Israel faces today.  In the past we have lost the land of Israel
because of hatered between Jews, are we doomed to repeat this part of
history again?  The threat of having to give up part of Israel, rather
than bringing us to our senses and uniting us, is merely increasing the
hatred that already exists.  How can we improve this situation? Is it
possible that ridding ourselves of the hellhole that is Gaza will help?
It certainly is worth thinking about. One more story.  A man lived in a
town that was in danger of being flooded. People started evacuating the
town but this man, a tzaddik, insisted that he would place his faith in
G-d.  It started to rain, and the tzaddik went up to the roof and
recited Tehillim with great fervor.  A wagon went by and offered to give
him a ride, but the tzaddik, full of faith, insisted that G-d would
help.  The water rose, and a boat went by offering him rescue.  The
tzaddik still insisted that G-d would help, and remained on the roof
saying Tehillim. A wave knocked him off the roof and he drowned.  When
he got to heaven he asked for an explanation.  He had displayed perfect
faith and had prayed with great fervor, why hadn't he been saved.  G-d
answerd him "I sent a wagon, I sent a boat, but you didn't want to go."
Who is to say that this is not G-d's way of getting us out of a very
serious mess. 

To conclude.  I worry about the peace agreements.  I don't believe that
giving up the Golan is in the best interests of Israel's security.  I am
not in favor of dismantling Ariel or Emmanuel.  I am less sure of my
position on Gaza, however.  My sons will go to the army, they will serve
in Gaza if called upon to do so.  But I insist that the issues are not
clear.  Mistakes have been made in the past, even by the greatest of our
sages.  We do what we must, but we have to be humble enough and honest
enough to admit that we may be in error.



End of Volume 9 Issue 98