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Music and jews.

Eddie Mair | 14:24 UK time, Friday, 12 September 2008

The role of music in Jewish life is hugely important. And an un-harmonious row is dividing ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel after several leading rabbis banned certain kinds of music, even religious songs. The rabbis say the use of modern instruments like drums and guitars to "distort" music, is dangerous and immoral. Wyre Davies will report for us tonight. As a blog extra, here is Rabbi Efraim Luft who appears in the piece, and here is the list of dos and dont's.


  • 1. At 3:25pm on 12 Sep 2008, Thunderbird wrote:

    Do you think that the Aforementioned Rabbi is able to hide a Jazz quartet in that beard ?

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  • 2. At 3:36pm on 12 Sep 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    "The saxophone ... received the name 'The Devil's Flute' because of its indecent, seductive tones"...

    Bring it on, Candy Dulfer !!

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  • 3. At 4:26pm on 12 Sep 2008, annasee wrote:

    As someone who plays at lots of weddings, I love the instruction "Only the person who pays the musicians has the right to tell them how to play" What scenarios produced that rule, I wonder???

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  • 4. At 5:16pm on 12 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    Klezmer music only, eh?

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  • 5. At 6:06pm on 12 Sep 2008, CKennard wrote:

    Now that we are making generalisations, Radio four listeners hate percussion based music as well, they mainly listen to radio three for musical entertainment and think that rap is akin to American Verse poetry. As one of few young grade 8 pianist I think most pop is a bit basic for interlectual stimulation, but I realise as an orthodox jew, this just seems like a cry for a spiritual lift through music, of which classical musicians understand the thirst. I guess those that want justification just look towards the heavens for divine approval. Those, like me, who are orthodox and educated in the ways of the described 'non kosher' music know that in reality it is just a different word for 'simple'.
    Clive (Hendon)

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  • 6. At 7:37pm on 12 Sep 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I expect that the Christian establishment may have tried, at one time and another, to forbid people from playing the 'wrong' sort of music; luckily people like Bach ignored them, eh? This sort of censorship always reminds me of the old joke about why religious fundamentalists are opposed to sexual congress: it may lead to mixed dancing....

    It seems to me that anyone who assumes God to be such an old fuddy-duddy that He doesn't like people to enjoy music has a very small-minded image of the Almighty.

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  • 7. At 11:19am on 13 Sep 2008, gossipmistress wrote:

    I missed the broadcast but this sounds very like the 'battle' in many Anglican churches between traditional (originally all male) choral music with organ and 'modern' hymns.

    In the anglican situation I can't see why there can't be space for both, but really hope the old traditions are not lost.

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  • 8. At 11:30am on 13 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    C_G 6, God isn't a fuddy-duddy. He just has good taste.

    gm 7, Once Guitars and drums take over in our Cathedral, I leave. I've already complained to Songs of Praise for some of the hand-waving, happy-clappy, rubbish they now foist on us. I got a reply saying that they have to appeal to everybody. Let's have some Jewish and Muslim music then. FYI, I was brought up in evangelical churches and saw the music slowly go downhill.

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  • 9. At 1:49pm on 13 Sep 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    DMcN @ 8, it seems to me that God may not share my taste -- or rather, that He may share *everyone's* taste, so I'd feel a bit stupid saying 'oh, God told me what He likes to hear and nobody ought to play/sing anything else'. What other people like to hear or play (yeah, even until tambourines!) may be as acceptable to Him as anything else, and who am I, or who are you, or who is any priest or rabbi or imam to claim they know better?

    'We all create God in our own image. It is our greatest temptation.' (I think it was Elizabeth Goudge who said that.)

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  • 10. At 1:52pm on 13 Sep 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    sorry -- pressed 'post comment' too soon by accident

    I tend to agree with you about music having gone down-hill in churches I have attended -- starting with changing the hymn-book to include a lot of things the congregations didn't know and so didn't sing along with -- but that isn't to say that I am certain that God agrees with us.

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  • 11. At 2:37pm on 13 Sep 2008, Sid wrote:

    Of all the items I've heard on PM in the last month or so, this really was the most depressing ...

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  • 12. At 2:53pm on 13 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    C_G 9, God obviously know what is best or our great Cathedrals wouldn't have organs in them. We just put around 750,000 pounds into repairing ours. Donations graciously appreciated.

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  • 13. At 3:30pm on 13 Sep 2008, Humph wrote:

    David (12) I have a tambourine that I could donate. Where should I send it to? Psalm 149 v3


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  • 14. At 4:39pm on 13 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    Humph 13, Thanks, but I think the organ repair includes a tambourine stop. You can, however, 'buy' a pipe of varying size for varying amounts of money. We have 'bought' one.

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  • 15. At 4:49pm on 13 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    C_G 10, Do you know the most popular hymn according to the last two 'polls' done by Songs of Praise for their top 10, or however many, hymns program? No Googling! I assume we all watch Songs of Praise here. Is everybody going to watch the Last Night of the Proms tonight?

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  • 16. At 4:51pm on 13 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    C_G 9, God has very little to do with it as far as I'm concerned. I just like good, well presented, church music. We have one of the top choirs in GB.

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  • 17. At 9:49pm on 13 Sep 2008, Humph wrote:

    Re David (15)

    we all watch Songs of Praise here


    Is everybody going to watch the Last Night of the Proms tonight?


    This is the PM Blog. A common connection could be the listening to the PM programme on BBC radio 4 between 5pm and 6pm - Mondays to Fridays. Other connections, though possible, should not be assumed.


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  • 18. At 09:17am on 14 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    Humph 17, Thanks for the info. I always wondered why this is called the PM Blog. I just watched the first part of the two programs on BBC 4 (not connected with Radio 4, I assume) dedicated to another Humph, Lyttelton (Associated with Radio 4 via ISIHAC and also Radio 2 via his Best of Jazz program. But Radio 2 should not be confused with Radio 4.). As you only listen to PM, you won't have known about any of this. Who is this Eric Mayor guy?

    Our pipe is a Great Principal 8' Bottom D.

    Off to the farmers' market. Not to be confused with PM or any associated blogs.

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  • 19. At 12:14pm on 14 Sep 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Mr McNickle, You remind me very much of the guy in the parable of the Widow's Mite that I remember so well from Sunday School...

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  • 20. At 6:57pm on 14 Sep 2008, Sid wrote:

    The widows might? There's only two widows in this parish, and both of them do ...

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  • 21. At 9:49pm on 14 Sep 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Sid @ 20, I thought the point about widows was that they don't.

    They don't yell
    They don't tell
    They don't swell
    And they're grateful as

    (That's what Heinlein said anyway.)

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  • 22. At 09:47am on 15 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    Sid 20, The big question is what the widows might do with the pair of bulls.

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  • 23. At 09:50am on 15 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    lBG 19, Sorry, you've got the wrong man. The pipe we sponsored is is one of the smaller ones, although not as small as the widow's mite.

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