Tuesday, November 30, 2004


I don't understand the fuss over Yossi Karduner, and I don't understand why a smartish man like Lazer Brody insists on misspelling the word shteeble.

I bring it up, because the blogosphere is buzzing (well, PT and DM are buzzing, anyway) about this Brody post that discusses Karduner.

If you scroll down, you'll find this confusing sentence:

Yosef Karduner from Bet Shemesh, Israel. A "chassid" in every sense of the word; when he's not making one of his rare appearances on stage, he spends his time learning Torah or walking the Judean foothills singing his heart out to Hashem in personal prayer. Listening to such a vocalist is directly conducive to faith and spiritual gain. [emphasis mine]
In a word: Huh?

Look, the boy can sing. No argument. And, I wouldn't object to spending an evening with his music. Still, is it really "directly conducive to faith and spiritual gain?" That's quite a sales pitch, a sales pitch I don't think the Truth in Advertising czars would accept.

In fact, the breathless certainty of the Bordy-blurb remindes me of those hucksters who promise long life, vitality, and amazing weight loss if you buy their potions. Only now, the promise is "faith and spiritual gain." Please. Still it's a comforting and reassuring message, isn't it? Don't worry about studying torah. Don't worry about mitzvot. Kick the cat. Steal from your neighbor. Have another brew. No worries, bro. The music of Yossi Karduner will carry you home.

As I hope you've realized, this is utter hogwash.

Music, on its own, can not deliver spiritual gain. There are no shortcuts to spirituality. People (like Lazer Brody?) often confuse spirituality with the warm and happy feeling you get after a big plate of cholent, or a few rounds of zmiros. They're wrong. Spirituality isn't a feeling. It isn't an emotion. It isn't anything you can touch or feel. Spirituality, remember, isn't material.

All Yossi Karduner - or any musician - can do is make you feel nice. If you never do anything with that nice feeling, you have not made spiritual progress. The idea is to harness that good feeling -wherever it comes from; music is just one source - and use it in service of the Torah. A musician can spiritualy improve me only if his music inspires me to do soemthing like study torah, or daven with additional concentration or perform acts of charity. If I don't do anything with the warm, fuzzy feeling, all I have is a warm, fuzzy feeling. And that's not worth anything, spiritually speaking.

Question: What is the difference between an athlete who uses music to pump himself up for the big game, and the yeshiva bochur who uses music to psych himself up for shabbos (excuse me, to put himself into a shabbos frame of mind?)

Answer: Nothing. Both ar eusing music as a tool, because that's all music can be. A tool. It's a means. Not an end.


Jack Steiner said...


You come across as being a bit cranky, I think that somewhere in that crusty soul is a man in dire need of a hug. Come here boychik and let Jack show you some love.

Anonymous said...

About mispellings - I think it's spelled 'sentence'

DovBear said...

Jack, on your own side of the bed, please. This ain't San Franscisco, ya queer.

Mr. Dictionary, we're mighty impressed with your erudition. You can spell "sentence." Wow. For that gift, I'd trade away all I have - the cars, the women the frequent notice from Protocols. Don't fritter away your talent on me and my blog, man. You should be spelling sentence on TV. On broadway. The movies, even. And I'll be sure to tell my grandkids, that I was there, at the very begining, when Anonymous Cretin first appeared with his fantastic spelling tricks and taught us all to laugh, to cry, and even to love.

Jack Steiner said...

Come here & give me a little yeshiva love, you hairy man, you. Men can be affectionate w/o it being queer.

Jack Steiner said...

I have to admit that I was laughing so hard I almost spilled my coke on the keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Dov Bear, the more you rant the more you reveal the limits of the knowledge you have. Brody doesn't dream what he says; you can say in Likutei Moharan first section, 3rd subject "Akrokta" where Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that hearing the music of a good yerai shamayim "menagen", or singer, is conducive to spiritual gain. I know both Brody and Karduner personally - both do a tremendous job in bringing people close to hashem, each in their own way. The way you make fun of them shows how far you are from Hashem. Clean up your act, DB, your a bright guy so use your sechel in the right way. Yours, Avi from Bet Shemesh, Israel

DovBear said...

I am not arguing with Rav Nachmen. I haven't seen RN "inside" as they say. But I did see what Brody wrote, and it's rediculous. Music is a tool. Not an end. If it was possible for music by itself to bring you closer to God, why did He, in his wisdom, ask us to waste time with miztvos and Torah study? He should have just said "listen to music."

Because we do have mitzvos, and because it says everywhere that we become better people by performing mitzvos, I can only conclude that Lazer misunderstood Rav Nachman.

John W Leys said...

I could be wrong--it wouldn't be the first time--but I didn't read Rabbi Brody's comments to mean that music is a spiritual free ticket, just that it conductive to spriritual growth. Just as one might say a quiet room is conductive to studying. This doesn't mean that sitting in a quiet room by itself is an end, just that it helps make studying more productive. In this way music can help make spiritual growth more productive.

That's how I saw it anyway.

DovBear said...

If that's what he meant, kol hakovod. It isn't how I read it, though.

Anonymous said...

Dov Bear, you keep digging yourself in a deeper hole. If you can overcome your "Midas Hanitzachon" for two minutes, go back to the Shtibble (does it really matter how the heck Brody spells it - you're giving your cards away by nitpicking like that) and see what Reb Lazer writes about total immersion in Torah. In the Karduner post, he was answering a mother with a 16 year daughter, and not giving a shmooz to his avrechim. It seems by your post and continued comments that first you decide you're gonna nail the guy, then afterwards you decide how to do it. That's not exactly emes, and it's really skirting close to LoshonHora. Sorry, DB, but that's how I see it. Avi again from Beit Shemesh

DovBear said...

If he says something that isn't true, or makes a sloppy argument, I am going to point it out. He doesn't get a free pass. Read my blog. This is what I do, and Lazer isn't the only blogger I've "nailed."

John W Leys said...

Saying its "what I do" doesn't make it right. Its not that you shouldn't "nail" other bloggers or disagree with them, its the way that you do it that bothers me. You come across very mean spirited and advisarial. I think its being kind to say you're only "skirting" l'shon hara.

DovBear said...

There is no loshon hara on DovBear.