Rav Avigdor Miller on the Beautiful Niggun and the Waste of Time

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Q:
I saw in a sefer that music is the highest form of spirituality, right underneath the level of Torah. Is that true?

A:
That’s שקר וכזב. It’s totally false. Music is לא כלום  – it’s nothing at all. Sometimes you have a man who sings well, and he wants to sell you his merchandise, so he tells you, music is this and it’s that. No, no. It’s nothing at all.

The Chofetz Chaim didn’t have any music in his place. There was no music in the Chofetz Chaim’s house. No kind of music. He sang zemiros at the table, but it was mostly pensive, thoughtful things that he sang – nothing fancy. Rabbi Yisroel Salanter didn’t have any music. The gedolei Yisroel didn’t have any music. Music is for the המון עם, for the common folk. You have a lot of עמי הארץ, a lot of common folk, and you want to attract them to your table, so you sing. No harm. It’s better than going out in the street Motzei Shabbos. So they gather around the Rebbe’s table and they sing zemiros – very good. No harm done.

There was a man who told me that when he came as a boy to America, he would have gone lost, but the Melavah Malka saved him. They sang music there and that saved him. But it doesn’t mean that it’s best thing to do. When people get together and they speak דברי אלוקים חיים, when they speak words of Torah, that’s the very best music.

So music has absolutely no value, unless it’s accompanied by noble thoughts. And the Leviyim didn’t just sing bim-bum-bim-bum-biddy-bum-bum in the בית המקדש. They sang words. שירו לו זמרו לו, שיחו בכל נפלאותיו  (Tehillim 105-2).  שירו  and שיחו means words. Words, yes. Words of music are inspiring. Words that help create Torah thoughts in your mind. But music without words is just tickling your nerves, and it’s a waste of time.

 TAPE # 609