Rav Avigdor Miller on Worthless Music (July 1980)

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Q:
The Rav mentioned earlier that music is הבל, a worthless endeavor. But wasn’t there music in the בית המקדש? Was that worthless as well? Don’t we see then that music is great?

A:
That’s like saying that the wheel was a great invention, and therefore anything on wheels is great. Is that so? There was a trumbel that was used to carry people to the executioner in the good old days in France. Now, the trumbel was on wheels. It rolled through the streers of France, carrying people to the guillotine. Were the wheels great?! The victims didn’t appreciate the wheels. They hoped the wheels would fall off. To them, the wheels were the very worst thing in the world.

So it really depends on what the vehicle is being used for. If music is used to help a man with noble aspirations to climb up to Hashem, then music is fulfilling its purpose. If a person will sing his שירי קודש with music, then there’s no question; it enobles his life. That’s the purpose of music – to bring him closer to Hashem.

But when music is used just to tickle your nerves, to make noise and get you excited without any thoughts in your head, then its worthless. And when its used to arouse people to thoughts of bloodshed and immorality, then it’s הבל. It’s worse than הבל! If music is used to make you think about romance and so on, or even if it’s just to get you excited over nothing at all, then you’re taking the noble purpose of music and dragging it through the mud.

TAPE # 319 (July 1980)