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What is the Jewish view on non-Jewish music and movies?


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Rabbi Shlomo Chein: Welcome. I'll be with you in a moment...what's on your mind?

Josh: this is the situation

Josh: there is this kid (believe me i dont knw how i got involved) but he's totally Frum and is really confused about his jewish identity and asks me questions

Josh: today he asked me wut is wrong w/ non jewish music and movies and he's like y cant we watch or listen so i gave him an anwser and he wasnt happy can u give me a good reasson that might hit home for him

Josh: sry that was really long

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: ok - let me try (it might a little tough since this is online and I don't really know him, but I can try).

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: Let's start with movies, it is far worse that music

Josh: ye i knw

Josh: i'll give u backround he's 15 and really confused and has no where to really turn

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: that is sad that he has no one to turn to

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: you know what I just thought of... could you send him here?

Josh: i would love to but i'm not sure he'd come

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: ok, so let's talk about movies a bit

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: what did you tell him?

Josh: like i told him that we r different then the world and that by listening to their music and watching their movies we r conforming to their lifestyle and giving energy to things that r distracting us from the goal and the reason we were put here

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: very nice

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: let me tell you a story I heard from a woman who grew up in a home where the parents let them go to movies....

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: so she often would go to the movies. One day when she was about 12 or 13 she was in the theater watching a movie about this man having an affair with a married woman...

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: (sorry for the delay there are a lot of people on)

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: anyway... the plot of the movie had the audience feeling sympathetic for this man...

Josh: ye

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: suddenly this girl watching the movie thinks "oh my G-d" - here I am having sympathy for a guy who is doing something against the Ten Commanmends. Basically, G-d tells me one thing, and the producers of this movie have me feeling another thing! She picked herself up in middle of the film, and never walked into a theater again!

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: this was true 40 years ago - imagine how it is today. The movies are a lot worse - more of the movies, and more of each thing inside the movie is against what Hashem's says in the Torah. You see people killing, stealing, lobster, sex, immodesty, afairs, cheating etc. etc. and what is worse, in many of the movies the people doing all these things against the Torah are the hero of the movie, which means they become the hero of the person watching the movie

Josh: ok

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: so on one side you have G-d, the creator of all the universe, saying Chaim (pretend that is his name), Chaim, I have a special mission for you, no one else in the world can do it, I need you to do it. On the other side, you have some actor who is doing everything against what G-d said, and by watching it, you are sort of saying G-d, I don't care if you need me, I don't want you, i want this immoral junk instead!

Josh: ok this is all way good how do i copy it and paste it

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: when you are ready to leave press the quit button (not the X) and you will have a choice to have this emailed to you

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.


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I like the way Rabbi explains it

Posted by: Anonymous, Teaneck, NJ on Jan 29, 2006

I had the same question and one of the Rabbis refered me to this link where RAbbi Chein discusses the issue of movies. I really liked the way he explained it but I still have 2 questions. Can't jewish music do the same to you, like listening to Goin Chassidish or Mattisyahu or all the other latest hits. And also what if I don't watch or listen to the real bad stuff and I just do the in between stuff, like classical music or comedy movies (vs. romance)?

Editor's Comment

Rabbi Chein responds:
As mentioned in the article there are two issues with regard to music: a) the lyrics b) the message found and coming from the heart and soul of the author which is covertly expressed in the music.

The lyrics of Goin Chassidish and Matisyahu are obviously kosher/Jewish lyrics. As far as their souls, I have no reason to think that they are unkosher or unJewish, and thus no reason to compare them to non-Jewish, or even non-torah-observant musicians. If there is a Jewish person composing music with lyrics that are against the theme of Torah, and/or his soul and lifestyle are distant from Torah, then I would say his music too is a problem.

Classical Music obviously doesn't have the lyrics issue, but it still has the deeper issue – the message coming from the heart and soul of the composer which is put into his music. The problem with movies doesn’t depend on what category Hollywood attributes to the movie. It depends on the content of the movie – and any movie coming from the secular world, regardless of category, can (and most times does) have immodest, improper, or anti-Torah images or messages.

Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
"The Name." Out of respect, we do not explicitly mention G-d's name, unless in the course of prayer. Instead, "Hashem" is substituted.
(Yiddish) Religious.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.