« Physical and spiritual 6: Music | Main | The strangeness of Jewish civil law »

January 27, 2008


Rael Levinsohn

The reality is that since the dawn of time, Judaism has been trying to present its message through the prism of contemporary culture (the list of personalities involved is too long to even begin). Culture consists of high and low elements. This is an example of culture on the lower rungs. "Gangsta-rap" is a popular genre of music that uses as a motif the soldier, the warrior, the gangster, the rebel. Its tone is confrontational, abusive and arrogant. In this particular case the message is at least of a religious nature as opposed to the usual hedonistic, criminal and obscene variety.

Now a person might object, out of a personal preference to the style, content and "beat", but I do not think one can say that it is "unjewish" or sacrilegious. The use of low culture in of itself is not "sinful". Judaism by definition, is not confined by 18th century polish folk culture even if one will posit that an absolute Jewish cultural ethic does exist.

Think of the people who are listening to this video. It is not the chassid in Square, Bnei Brak, or Jerusalem. It is the jew who already is engulfed in this genre of music, more than probably the coarse, sinful version. He is in a much better position, from a spiritual and halachic perspective, to be listening to this music. One could perhaps even go so far as to assign metaphysical significance to it, a lifting or redeeming of the sparks trapped in the husks.

Musicians such as Jewda, Mattisyahu and others do a valuable service if you look at it from the right perspective. Do I think that someone in Bnei Brak should be listening to it? - probably not. But is there a place for it and does it serve a purpose? - definitely.

I look forward to hearing some responses on this.


You make a good point and I alternate between appreciating the genius of Chabad in skilfully using contemporary culture and the revulsion I, as someone older than you feel at the juxstposition of sacred and vulgar.

In a recent article on the boxe, the author points out that some elements of Chabad are comfortable with American Black culture. I wonder how much being located in Crown Heights has to do with it and whether this is simply due to the fact of being physically encased and exposed by and to that culture. "Salita drives the streets of Brooklyn bobbing his head to Matisyahu, and when the black-hatted reggae star makes an appearance at one of his fights, the two Orthodox men bump chests. “You’re representing, D.!” Matisyahu says. Orthodox Judaism co-opting aspects of hip-hop culture and making it its own; two Chabadniks completely comfortable in worlds defined and dominated by black men. Only in America, folks."

See, http://www.forward.com/articles/12510/

On the other hand, I just posted on Music under Physical and Spiritual. Are we not justified in drawing a distinction between music which is on the floor of ruchniyos and music which is toward its top?

See Radak in Tehillim 47, on the word Maskil. He says clearly that a level of enlightenment must be a part even of Gentile music.


Feh. Gansta rap is something which the righteous among the Black community hate with a passion. They are the first ones that scream that it is destroying their community. I am not one of those people who thinks that all music should be banned. Rather, I am certainly one of those who thinks that most types of music need to be redeemed. If you are the sort of person who watches movies, than I recommend you watch the movie Blood Diamond. Especially the directors narrative, where he points out that in Sierra Leone, many of the most vicious animals would use this music as their medium.

If you argue with me that Rap is a good thing, I won't quarrel. Rap is merely a more primitive form of poetry. Because poetry has been stolen from the people by the Academics, Rap was the only acceptable alternative for many men who need to express their inner hearts. Gangster rap however, is by it's very name a murderous thing. I do not accept it, and I do not accept someone who dresses in the same fashion as the thugs and murderers who create strife and torment among the communities of men. If this form of clothing was worn by people who constantly encouraged faith and kindness, I would have no problem. Provided a man covers himself, what does it matter his manner of dress? But this is the uniform of the cruel. And I for one, will have no part of it.


fun rpg games like runescape

Earning money in Runescape is trickier than many other MMORPG's. Table 2: Fish needed to train cooking from level 50-99 without burning. This way the monster will not take much of your damage and you can auto train your combat levels while browing other websites.

xbox 360 emulator

This will give you step by step instructions with photo's, text and videos. This guide explains how to use your Android device for DLNA video streaming to certified products such as TV's, media boxes and game consoles. Maybe we ought have a have a look at say, 5 principal factors why probably it is best to purchase new xbox 360 kinect for christmas gift and reassess them.

The comments to this entry are closed.