Category — Niggunim

Musical Instruments on Shabbat


By: Benjamin Maron

Different communities hold by different understandings of what is, abortion
and is not, medical
permitted on Shabbat. At Mah Rabu, pharmacy halachic (legal) issues pertaining to the use of musical instruments on Shabbat were explored. The post is prefaced with:

This post addresses popular misconceptions concerning classical halachic sources about playing musical instruments on Shabbat. The purpose of this post is not to promote a particular stance about halacha (what should and shouldn’t be done) or meta-halacha (how one should determine what should and shouldn’t be done). I’m not suggesting (chas veshalom) that the only (or the best) way to justify one’s practices is by finding a pre-modern halachic text that supports them; I’m just clarifying what those pre-modern texts do and don’t say. Of course, people may have all sorts of reasons for their practices, including aesthetic preferences, mimetic traditions, logical arguments, and cultural/denominational/communal identities. My goal is not to invalidate those reasons, but to knock them off their “halachic” high horse. The intended result is that when we’re discussing questions about musical instruments on Shabbat — in distinguishing one community from another, or talking about where we will and won’t daven, or determining policies for our pluralistic communities — we’ll have to be explicit about those aesthetic preferences, mimetic traditions, logical arguments, and cultural/denominational/communal identities, rather than simply playing the “I’m halachic and you’re not” get-out-of-jail-free card. (No, I don’t think such a card should exist in the first place, whether it’s the “forbidden” card of Stage 1 or the “uncomfortable” card of Stage 2, but I can’t change the world overnight.) If you find factual inaccuracies in the post, please post corrections in the comments (with appropriate citations), and I’ll update the post. If you have a stance on the issue that differs from mine, then that’s swell — I totally support your right to have different aesthetic preferences, mimetic traditions, logical arguments, or cultural/denominational/communal identities, or to come up with new and innovative halachic interpretations.

Read the full post for a point-by-point look at the myths and facts about using instruments on Shabbat if your community is considering using instruments, if your community wants to study the possibility, or if you have questions about the practice.

Does your havurah or minyan use musical instruments on Shabbat? Why or why not? What is your own preference?

Benjamin Maron attended his first NHC Summer Institute as an Everett Fellow in 2006. He is on the NHC Board of Directors. He is chairing the 2010 Chesapeake Retreat.

December 28, 2009   No Comments

Singing and Chanting!

By: Benjamin Maron

You’ve decided to start a minyan or havurah, treat and you want the davening (prayer) to be musical, sales you want to highlight some great signing for extra ruach (spirit). But maybe you don’t know which tunes to pick. No problem. There are many resources available to help you learn to sing (and lead) different tunes:

  • Kol Zimrah has recorded tunes used on Friday nights “with the intention of enabling individuals and communities to lead and participate in their own exuberant and melodious Friday Night Services.” You will find Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming the Sabbath) and Ma’ariv (Evening) services there, usually with more than one version of each prayer/psalm, plus some songs for singing around the dinner table. Guitar chords are included for some of the songs.
  • Tikkun Leil Shabbat has assembled two Word documents of guitar chords: Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming the Sabbath) [doc] and Ma’ariv (Evening) [doc]. (Both are collected from Kol Zimrah, NFTY Chordster, and Rob Levy.)
  • A large collection of audio recordings of niggunim (songs without words), prayers, and other songs can be found on sixthirteen.
  • Siddur Audio is a site for learning how to daven (pray).
  • Virtual Cantor aims to teach nusach (style, melody) for davening.
  • NeoHasid offers niggunim and songs for holidays and Shabbat, categorized by Hasidic lineage.
  • Ellie’s Torah Trope Tutor is a resource for learning to chant (leyn) Torah, Haftorah, and Megillot (scrolls).

Benjamin Maron attended his first NHC Summer Institute as an Everett Fellow in 2006. He is on the NHC Board of Directors. He is chairing the 2010 Chesapeake Retreat.

December 26, 2009   2 Comments