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It is impossible under this heading to tell in detail about the fundamental knowledge of our sages in the field of music. This topic is closely related to the hidden part of the Torah – Kabbalah. To comprehend this part of the Torah, years of hard study, spiritual cleansing, and meticulous work on oneself are necessary. But let us try to describe in general terms the view of Judaism on music.
Our wise men talked a lot about the great impact music and singing can have on a person’s soul. Music saves from “depression”, as we see in the story of Tsar Shaul: so as not to “frighten his evil spirit from Gd”, he invited a person who can play the kinora (stringed instrument) – the future King David. Moreover, music is capable of attracting the spirit of prophecy, contributing to its manifestation, as it was with the prophet Elisha: wanting to “evoke” the spirit of prophecy, he asked: “Take me a musician … and the spirit of prophecy will descend.”
One of the students of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Israel from Shklov, transmits the words of his teacher about the meaning and power of music: “… comprehending much of the deep secrets of the Torah is impossible without it, and because of music, the soul of a person can fly out of the body, Torah, – you can revive the dead … Part of the tune Moshe-Rabane received during the Sinai revelation, and the rest are variations of them … “.
Our sages talked a lot about the magnificence of music, and about the benefits of it, and that a good melody is worth the beauty of whole spiritual worlds and is able to awaken a person’s soul and lift it from materiality to Divine heights. It is so important to properly use this power of music to serve the Almighty that the Babylonian Talmud even gives the following striking interpretation of the verse of the Torah, “For not serving Gd, your Almighty, with joy and kindheartedness” (the verse speaks of punishing a Jew who does not serve Almighty with joy). According to this interpretation, Jews who served in the Jerusalem Temple without songs and melodies (after all, a person does not sing, if he does not feel joy in his heart), laid down by the Law, shall be punished with great punishment!
But, on the other hand, the sages talked a lot about the fact that music can have tremendous destructive power. One example is music alien to traditional Jewish concepts, serving the Creator. Songs, singing the low manifestations of a person or more – sins, and especially – at a feast, with wine, are forbidden in every way and even forbidden by our wise men. The use of this great power to please our Yetzer hara (“bad principle” – bad motives) evokes the wrath of the Creator. After all, any talents given to man, including voice and musical ear, are given in order to serve the Creator. And the one who uses music and singing for purposes that do not correspond to such a ministry is likened to a man to whom the king presented majestic robes, so that he would dress in them before the king, and who would dress his dog in them …
Therefore, we should strive for the music and singing, which we listen to, to awaken in us the love for the Creator and the desire to serve Him. Our sages approve of singing during festive meals (for example, at the Sabbath table), as well as melodies that a person sings while studying the Torah. Beautiful Jewish songs that a person needs in order to avoid depression, maintain joy in the heart while performing the commandments are not prohibited.