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I am machmir on only listening to music that was performed by a Jew, but i don't really understand it. Does anyone know what is the source for this? Does Matisyahu perform with only Jews?

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I have been to many Chasunos where some of the band members were non Jews – Gershon Gold Jan 25 '11 at 23:35
From your question it sounded like you decided to do this yourself (hence my confusion). Why don't you ask the Rav who told you this in the first place? – Dave Jan 26 '11 at 4:12
@avrohom, with tefillin, you can say you're doing it because God said so. To say the same about this restriction, you're going to need a source. – Isaac Moses Jan 26 '11 at 15:15
@avrohom Four different places in the Written Torah, plus a large body of Halachot in the Oral Torah, as documented copiously in all over the Talmud (webshas.org/ttm/tefillin.htm). – Isaac Moses Jan 26 '11 at 18:26
@avrohom It's well-established in the Oral Torah that a) God commanded us to wear tefillin, and b) this is what He meant in those places in the Written Torah. I don't understand why you think this is in doubt or comparable to a non-universal practice with no obvious (at least not yet cited) source in the Oral or Written Torah. – Isaac Moses Jan 26 '11 at 18:33
up vote 3 down vote accepted

See Igros Moshe YD 2:111 where he raises issue of church influence which relate to the players' intentions, the words, and the instruments. Jews presumably would not have suspicious (regarding idol worship) intentions.

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Here's a summary of Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:56, which says that the bottom line is that "it is forbidden to listen to non-Jewish religious music ... However, if the song is written and/or song by a non-Jew but has no religious purpose, then there is technically no prohibition."

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So, I can listen to Bach Cantatas or Handel's Messiah? Or Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky", written by a Jew claiming he'll have a place with Jesus? – DanF Dec 31 '15 at 16:07

I heard a prominent Rabbi say that it was mutar as long as the lyrics and clean and the beat will not make one do inappropriate things. (See Rambam's comment on Avots 1:16)

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In a Q&A session by R' Hershel Schachter I recently heard, he explains (I forget based on who) that artists put some of their essence into the art they make, so when you consume art, you internalize a little bit of the artist's soul. So, he advocates against listening to music composed by non-Jews.

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I think the question was about music being performed by non-Jews. That does not automatically follow from the principle you mentioned. – Dave Jan 26 '11 at 15:31
Agreed, although I suspect that he'd say that the rule is the same. I recommend that you listen to the recording to get his nuances and see if he quoted a source. – Isaac Moses Jan 26 '11 at 17:38
@isaac no its not the same. there's a difference between me performing beethoven on the piano and some ali ahmad or james jones doing beethoven – avrohom Jan 26 '11 at 18:29
@avrohom Your first sentence seems to be disagreeing with me, while your second sentence seems to be agreeing with me. In any case, the reality is that when you hear music, the emotions of both the composer and the performer are expressed therein, in different ways and to different degrees. How that should affect practice is either a Halachic question for your Rabbi, R' Schachter, and whatever sources they cite or a personal matter. – Isaac Moses Jan 26 '11 at 18:38

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