Here is the first video from the new album. ENJOY.
“A true participation in the [Israeli] draft will only take place based on a willing agreement and pact between Israeli society and the haredi community,” said Shas MK Aryeh Deri.
I agree. And that is why I am confused. Mandatory conscription of haredim has been a hot issue in Israel for years. And MK Deri is correct; the solution must an agreement between all parties involved.
So why be contentious?
“I would not suggest to any Prime Minister that he confront hundreds of thousands of haredim [over the draft issue],” said MK Meir Porush of UTJ.
Why not? Most Israelis want this issue resolved and guess what? They think haredim should serve. The haredim can protest as much as they want, but Israeli society is changing and this issue ultimately needs to be dealt with.
Why not call their bluff?
If the haredim take the lead on this issue, they have everything to gain, very little to lose, and they will solve many problems within the haredi community as well.
Haredi leadership should demand – right now – mandatory conscription of all eligible haredim.
Think about what will happen.
First of all, if the haredi leadership takes the lead, they will be in a position to make demands. And they will probably get everything the want, including:
- A complete and total exemption for women
- An exemption for exceptional Torah scholars (many agree to this already, I heard Ehud Barak suggest the top 10%, I bet that can be boosted to 15% or even 20%)
- Special haredi units, i.e. units led by male officers (especially important for basic training), with higher standards of kosher supervision and times set aside for prayer and study. (And these units already exist; I served in one 13 years ago.)
In addition, some haredim will excel in the army and become officers. That is good for them and good for the haredi population as a whole.
Plus, there are a lot of haredim. The Israeli army doesn’t need and cannot absorb so many new recruits at once. Most haredim over the age of twenty-two will probably be granted total exemptions from military service.
What am I missing?
The irony is that secular Israelis – who supposedly hate the haredim with passion – are insisting that the haredim be given power, accesses to the highest levels of Israeli society, and weapons. Funny.
There are those who argue that the study of Torah is the only true protector of Israel, the Israeli army is merely hishtadlus (making an effort). And as a religious Jew I agree one hundred percent.
But that has nothing to do with the draft.
The Talmud states, “Any town in which there are no schoolchildren studying Torah will be destroyed” (Shabbos 119B). But no one wants to draft schoolchildren. Is their Torah study not good enough? What about the men ages 22 and up (post-service or most likely exempted)? Is their Torah study not good enough? Or what about the top 10%; the exceptional Torah scholars most agree should be exempted from the draft? Doesn’t their Torah study count? It can’t be that the only Torah study worthy of protecting the Jewish nation is the study of Jewish men ages 18-21, and particularly the men not exceptional enough to be exempted from service.
There are those who argue that service in Israel’s military will make young haredi men go off the derech (give up a religious lifestyle). Give me a break. Haredi men are already going of the derech, and in record numbers. And if a haredi man cannot stay religious in a religious unit (with male officers, higher standards of kosher supervision, and special times set aside for prayer and study) then I am sorry, but that man was going off the derech already. Don’t blame the army.
And haredi society will benefit from the draft. Some haredi men are trapped. They don’t have the headspace to study fulltime, but they cannot leave Kollel for fear of the draft. So they flounder. Service (or an exemption) means that they will be free to join the work force. They can earn, provide for their families, travel in and out of the country, and create businesses in freedom and with peace of mind.
Israeli society is divided. It is naïve to think that solving the issue of haredi service in the military will solve Israel’s problems. There will still be secular Israelis who hate haredim. And there will still be haredim who hate secular Israelis. But it will help.
Haredi service in the military is the most contentious issue in Israel today. It is up to the haredim to solve it. And they should, because they only stand to gain in the deal.
*I know, Yair Lapid calls for a much smaller number of exemptions but: 1) if the haredim take the lead they can probably get what they want, and 2) even he agrees that some should be exempted. Also note: Israel can’t afford a universal draft.
This video was shot while I was testing cameras and equipment before a talk back in November. I looped three simple modal funk grooves and soloed over them. Nice? The soloing gets hot at about the one minute mark.
No one noticed.
Paul Ryan listens to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. Not a surprise. He is the right age and those bands defined his generation. Not surprising that he mentioned that either. He wants to appear hip and listing those bands gives him props with the right demographic.
But here is the shocker. After his speech – when he was joined on stage by his wife and children – Led Zeppelin’s Rock n Roll was the song playing in the background.
Can it be that Led Zeppelin has reached such a level of acceptability that it is deemed appropriate for the Republican National Convention? Indeed it has. And there is nothing more establishment, corporate, mainstream, or white bread than the Republican National Convention.
That is the death of rock n roll.
Once upon a time every longhaired, acne covered teenager used the inside gatefold of House of the Holy to separate seeds and roll up a fatty. The music represented rebellion, freedom, a refuge from authority, and just about everything else. Not anymore.
True, rock sold out years ago. The music business is big money and very corporate. Teen rebellion was packaged a long time ago, too. It was marketed and sold just like cornflakes and sneakers. But that didn’t matter. Your parents didn’t like to listen to it and they got upset when you insisted on playing it really loud around the house.
But not anymore, now it is the soundtrack to the RNC and in the iPod of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.
Oh well. Good bye rock n roll. It was fun while it lasted, now it is time for something new. Maybe it is time for that long-awaited Penderecki revival. It might not catch on but at least it will upset the neighbors.
I wrote an amazing new book called: Knee Deep in the Funk: Understanding the Connection Between Spirituality and Music.
It is about Music and Spirituality – awesome right? Specifically, it discusses:
- The power of the intuitive experience in music
- The obvious but never discussed link between music, drugs, and spirituality
- The even more obvious but never discussed link between music, sex, and spirituality
- The power of vocal music and its ability to create relationships – both real and imagined
- Music as a tool in meditation and self-abandon
- Music and prayer
- Music, joy, and the power of growth
- Music as a universal language
I am now raising funds to cover the publishing costs (like editing, typesetting, layout, cover, printing, PR, and other fun stuff). Visit the site I set up for the book to learn more and get involved: Vechulai.org.
And because Vechulai is a registered 501(c)3 organization, your contributions are tax deductible. Nice.
Get involved today and thanks.
I received a lot of feedback about my previous posts concerning the seven-note scale in Kabbalah. Unfortunately, upon further investigation, it seems clear that the seven-note scale doesn’t have a basis in traditional Jewish sources (i.e. the Talmud, Zohar, etc).
The best source I found is from Rabbi Shmuel Stern, in Shir Bina – his excellent book about Torah and music. He makes the following disclaimer before his chapter about musical scales and Kabbalah:
“This entire book was written after much thought and analysis, nevertheless this section [about scales, other concepts in music theory, and Kabbalah] is only conjecture. That is because there is no source from the Sages to rely upon. Due to our sins, our wisdom and understanding has been lost. It has been exiled from us [and given] to the nations of the world.”
In other words, you can learn many cool ideas and parallels between the seven-note scale and Kabbalah, but they are only that – cool ideas. They are not rooted in the older classical sources.
Rabbi Stern clarifies further: “The musical scale has seven notes [per octave] and we consider it to have seven levels. But this does not apply to Mizrachi music. Mizrachi music is based on much smaller divisions [of the octave].”
I.e. the seven-note scale is a Western idea. It is not a universal musical truth.
There is a lot of amazing Torah – particularly from Hasidic Rabbis – based on the idea of a seven-note scale. The Hasidic movement started during the Baroque period. By that time the seven-note scale and the modern concept of key were firmly established in Western music. Similar to Rabbi Stern in Shir Bina, it is best to say that the Hasidic Rabbis were discussing interesting ideas based on the music of their day.
A few people mentioned that the GRA stated there would be an eighth note in the Messianic era. (The Art Scroll Siddur makes a similar point in its commentary on Kabbalos Shabbos.) See my last post about the Talmud in Arachin 13B where I discuss this in more depth.
There are many parallels between Western music and Jewish thought. These ideas aren’t universal, but they are still very interesting.
In my last post, I mentioned that there doesn’t seem to be a source for a seven-note scale in traditional Judaism. A few people mentioned a famous quote from the Talmud (plus a few later sources probably based on it). As you will see, it is cool, but it isn’t a source for the seven-note scale.
The Talmud in Arachin page 13B presents what you might think is evidence that the Sages had a seven-note scale.
The Mishna states that a Levi, if he is still a child, may sing in the Temple but may not play the kinor or nevel. (The kinor and nevel are musical instruments. The kinor is a type of stringed instrument. The nevel is probably a wind instrument.)
The Talmud presents an argument that Rebbe Yehuda – one of the principle Rabbis from the Mishniac period – considers the kinor and nevel the same instrument. If that is true, then the Mishna is inconsistent with Rebbe Yehuda’s opinion (and that is a big problem based on the way the Talmud understands its sources).
The possible inconsistency is based on a Baraisa (a contemporary source from the same time period as the Mishna). The Baraisa states that the kinor had 7 strings in the Temple. It will have 8 strings in the Messianic era. And it will have 10 strings in the World to Come. The Baraisa brings verses to support each level. The verse supporting the idea of 10 strings calls the instrument a nevel (and hence the reason to consider the kinor and nevel the same instrument).
Before I tell you the Talmud’s answer, there are two ways to learn the Baraisa.
#1 – The 7 strings on the kinor could be the Talmud way of stating that the musical system the Sages favored was based on a seven-note scale. In the Messianic era our perception of harmony will change and the new scale will be based on 8 notes (the same being true for the 10-note scale in the World to Come).
#2 – Or the Baraisa could be referring to timbre (the acoustical properties of the particular instruments). The additional strings added to the kinor would reflect a change in the timbre of the instrument. It would not reflect any change in the harmonic system.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for a reference for a seven-note scale in traditional Jewish sources, you won’t find it here.
The Talmud answers that indeed the Mishna can also work according to the opinion Rebbe Yehuda. The kinor will have 10 strings in the World to Come. And because of the rich tone of the 10-string kinor, the verse calls the kinor a nevel. But it is not a nevel. It is a kinor (and therefore even Rebbe Yehuda considers them different instruments).
Point #1 – the Baraisa is clearly talking about timbre. The kinor is called a nevel because of its enhanced acoustical properties. The name change and additional strings have nothing to do with scales or harmony.
Point #2 – notice that only the kinor is changed (additional strings are added) – the nevel is not. It is still the same nevel. The kinor is called a nevel because it has a bigger sound. But the kinor is compared to the same nevel from nowadays. Obviously, the sound of the kinor has changed. But our perception of harmony and sound has not.
And based on this, we still have no idea how many notes were in the scale used in traditional Judaism.
The Torah has a lot to say about music. It is deep and very powerful. But unfortunately, many people are mistaken about the nature of music. And many people make definitive statements about music in Kabbalah that I think are based on a mistaken assumption.
You will see a lot of discussions about the number seven. Seven days in the week. Seven colors in the rainbow. And seven notes in the musical scale.
The problem is that the seven-note musical scale is highly subjective. It is not a universal. To my knowledge, it does not exist in most cultures.
The seven-note scale is a Western invention. It is found primarily in European classical music. Although the concept of a diatonic scale has been around since the time of the Greeks, the modern concept of key is only a few hundred years old. And even within Western music, Western folk music – particularly the blues, jazz, and rock – contain notes not found in the classical seven-note scale. (The famous blue note – you probably sing it all the time – isn’t on your piano.)
The octave is universal and found in most music around the world. How you divide the octave into a scale varies from culture to culture. There may be a scientific basis for the seven-note scale (based on the harmonic series), but it isn’t used in most cultures. I doubt that music based on the seven-note major and minor scales was sung in the Temple.
I am not aware of any statements by Chazal in regards to a seven-note scale. I don’t believe it is in the Zohar either. The statements I have seen and heard about the seven-note scale have been exclusively from Ashkenazi rabbanim. I have not seen similar statements from Sephardi rabbanim. And that makes sense. Sephardim come from a world that does not use a seven-note scale.
That said, discussions about a seven-note scale in Kabbalah are nice, but they probably aren’t emes.
If someone has heard or seen evidence contradicting what I said – I would love to see it. I would be thrilled to learn that Chazal had a seven-note scale. If the Jewish idea of music includes a seven-note scale, then although it is subjective, it is consistent and part of a system. And that works. But I need a source.
My third and newest book – Discover This – is due out this summer. Stay tuned! Go here to find out more and get involved.
The craziest thing about my trip to Chicago was my visit to the Sears Tower (now “Willis Tower” – but nobody calls it that). I went in, looked around, stood against the outer wall and looked up, and admired it from a distance. But I didn’t have time to go to the top.
It is a cool building and it is black. Black is cool. But it isn’t that tall. Yes, I know the stats. I know that it is supposed to be the tallest building in America.
But it isn’t.
Stand next to the Empire State Building. The Empire State feels taller. And it dominates the skyline in a way that the Sears Tower doesn’t. I used to get the same vibes from the Twin Towers – they felt tall, too. And they also dominated the Manhattan skyline.
But not the Sears Tower. The Sears Tower is just another big building. Some people have a theory that it looks short because it is black. If it were white it would look bigger. Maybe.
But I don’t buy it.
I think it is a Chicago-style scam – similar to their dirty politics – to get recognition for their city.
Sorry Chicago – but cut it out. Admit that the Empire State Building is taller. And feel good about yourselves. Chicago is a cool place. It has a lot to offer. You don’t have to lie about your buildings to get people to love you.