More Thoughts About Simchah Music

As a longtime fan of Hamodia, I was quite let down after reading your Sukkos supplement, specifically the Prime magazine. There was one article that left me especially speechless —the simchah music interview by Shia Eilen.

An interview is a form of writing where the writer tries to ask probing questions to the interviewee so that the public can see their views and opinions. The article by Shia Eilen was a pack of accusations, where he blames and points fingers at the innocent group who agreed to be interviewed. I felt that he did not listen to their answers and used his article as a means of airing his views before the public.

Besides the above-mentioned faults with the article, I was also baffled as to why he holds such strong resentment to our singers and musicians. Music, if sung from the heart, sincerely, will have the power to move and inspire. It is the language of the soul, and not everyone’s soul speaks in the same slow, kvetchy, whiny, soulful style he strongly misses. Many, especially the younger generation, connect so beautifully to the more modern styles sung by G-d-fearing singers of today.

As long as singers and listeners are sincere in their choice of music, I see no reason to get accusatory or cynical about the changes in the Jewish music industry, and about the new music being released.

Please carry on producing magazines and articles at the standard your readership has come to expect.

Thank you for your generally interesting, inspiring and informative articles.

Sincerely,

B. Schachter

Shia Eilen replies:

Thank you for reaching out. I appreciate your taking the time to express your feelings. Your letter once again underscores the fact that different people can read the same article – and draw opposite conclusions. Fortunately, the interviewees – three of whom I have been in touch with since the article appeared, and all of whom I hold in high esteem – felt very differently about the article than you did, and the feedback I received from this article, including from prominent mechanchim, was overwhelmingly positive.

Please be assured that I bear no resentment to singers nor to musicians. However, the interviewees readily acknowledged that there is no doubt that the wrong type of music – even if sung by observant Jews with Lashon Kodesh words – can have very negative effects on its listeners. The right music can bring one closer to Hashem. The wrong music will have precisely the wrong affect. The question is only where to draw the line, and how to define which music is kosher for the soul and which isn’t. As I indicated in the interview, I believe that the time has come to initiate “kashrus supervision” on music, similar to what we have in the food industry. At the very least, we as a community have to follow our instincts and send a clear message to the musicians about the type of music we want our guests to be exposed to.