Jewish Law

Non-Jewwish Music

11.02.19

Question

is it prohibited to listen (watch) non jewish songs? whats the reason? Is it prohibited to listen to non jewish kids songs?

Answer

 
To the Questioner,
 
 A non-Jewish song video may include sights  that are prohibited for a Jewish person to see - such as immodesty or artifacts of avodah zarah beliefs - based upon the Torah prohibition of "You shall not follow after your eyes and your heart" (Bamidbar 15:39).

The non-Jewish song itself may contain words or lyrics which laud such actions, and would thus also be included in the above prohibition - even without any visuals at all. 

Even when all the words and lyrics do not include any reference to such categories, the music itself may be detrimental for a Jewish person to hear because of its causing the external arousal of a high sensory state without first having any internal arousal of feelings. This is problematic since everything we experience should be leading us to some path in our connection to Hashem (see Orach Chaim, 230). The general way to do this is that when a person becomes aroused internally
with feelings of love for Hashem due to a situation, for example, when marrying off a child and feeling tremendous gratitude, or after having completed a mesechta in Shas, or on a Yom Tov etc. then he uses to external mediums of song and music as an expression of his inner arousal of feelings which was there even prior to when the music began. Therefore, listening to music which causes the arousal of a high sensory state without first having any internal arousal of feelings would be wrong, since it does not bring the listener to any further enhanced connection to Hashem. 

While it is true that the Mesilat Yesharim (end of Chapter 7) states that it is good to experience even an external arousal at times since it can bring to the internal arousal of the feelings , he is clearly referring to a case where the listener has already some internal point of reference of connection to Hashem - as is evident from the fact that he is talking about one who is in the midst of an act of fulfilling a mitzvah - and so, in that case, even an external type of arousal will bring toward an internal arousal of feelings through which he can build upon his connection to Hashem. Unfortunately this is not the case for many Jewish people nowadays, and especially if their aroused sensatory state or "lift" comes from listening to non-Jewish music (even kids music), it is highly unlikely that this will bring them to closer levels in their relationship with Hashem.

It is therefore much more advisable to listen to songs that were compiled by Jewish people who took into consideration one's soul connection to Hashem and who try to utilize the medium of song so that it be an expression of the spectrum of emotions that a Jewish soul naturally tends to feel internally in his relationship with Hashem.

Even in regard to music composed by Jews, not all is such that it can act as a natural expression for what a person is feeling and will thus bring their feelings of connection to Hashem to greater heights and actualization. Therefore a person must always check on an individual basis as to whether the music or songs he is listening to is playing a part in his feeling closer to Hashem – in which case he should listen to them – or whether they do not cause him to feel any closer to Hashem in any which way – in which case he should not listen to them.

With Blessings,
Rav Nachum
 
 

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