Tehillim 150 talks about Procaliming His praise with the call of Shofar, with the psalter and harp, with the timbrel and dance, with stringed instruments and the flute, with the loud sounding cymbals and stirring cymbals (The Hirsch Siddur, Feldheim 1972).

This Tehillim seems to talking about a full fledged orchestra.

There are also many exhortations in Tehillim to sing and use language to Hashem in praise of His wonders etc.

Why doesn't Jewish education put more of an emphasis on nurturing us to express our relationship with Hashem through our own personal music, song and poetry, each according to his talent.

Thus, whether one is happy or sad a Jew would express their emotions through either music, song or poetry. Not just listening to someone else's music but expressing their own emotions through these mediums.

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    There is a Biblical Mitzva to have music in the Temple. I don't know what could be more emphasized than that. That's super high level importance. – Double AA Aug 14 '15 at 14:47
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    @DoubleAA, I think the intent of the question is specifically contemporary Judaism. user9874, is that right? If so, please edit to make that clearer. Also, could you focus the post more to be a single, answerable question? The last two paragraphs appear to be recommendations, rather than aspects of a question. I think focusing down specifically to something like "Why don't we emulate the instrumental music aspect of the Tempple in our shul service?" could work well. – Isaac Moses Aug 14 '15 at 14:54
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    @IsaacMoses Contemporary Judaism also has a Biblical Mitzva to have music in the Temple. I don't know what could be more emphasized than that. That's super high level importance. – Double AA Aug 14 '15 at 14:55
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    @DoubleAA Contemporary Jewish practice, then. Yes, the Temple service remains 100% part of our religion, but it is (due to the multitude of our sins) not part of our contemporary practice. – Isaac Moses Aug 14 '15 at 14:56
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    @IsaacMoses Contemporary Jewish practice is actively working towards having that music. It's a very high priority in fact. I don't know what could be more emphasized than that. That's super high level importance. – Double AA Aug 14 '15 at 14:57

Why doesn't Judaism put more of an emphasis on expressing our love for Hashem through music, song and poetry in a formal sense as in the Shul on days when musical instruments can be played. Or just with formal musical concerts and the like.

It does. Music has always been a huge part of the Jewish liturgical experience, across all cultures of Judaism around the world. Throughout the centuries, great poets have been composing piyutim and pizmonim -- and they continue still today -- in Hebrew, Aramaic, and their own vernaculars. Traditionally Jews have not been literate in music, for the most part, with the role of the cantor learned by talent and rote rather than theoretical learning and music theory. This is no longer true today, thankfully, but it might be one reason why most of the literally thousands of piyutim in our liturgical repertoire don't usually come with tunes attached.

That said, many tunes have been passed down traditionally for centuries -- not really that many centuries, but in the Ashkenazic tradition these melodies are called Misinai, from Sinai. They include many of the iconic pieces of High Holiday liturgy, like the great Aleinu and Kol Nidrei. Using the proper melodies for the liturgy in general is actually something halachah is actively concerned with. It is considered imperative to chant the liturgy or use tunes in the appropriate mode -- which does vary across cultures, but you should stick to the ones used by your own culture. For example, in Shabbat Shacharit, the proper nusach is to change modes from the Nishmat mode to the Ahavah Rabbah mode at "shevach" in El Adon. Do people do this? No, not really, but it is the supposed proper nusach.

Plenty of people put on concerts of Jewish music, including instrumental works and chazanut as well as folk songs and bakashot and z'mirot and you name it. And, of course, modern Jewish institutions train chazanim to use the correct melodies for all of the liturgy. We may not be allowed to use instruments halachically, but, first, PLENTY of people do so anyway, especially in the Reform communities of the world, and second, we still have our voices!

Also, while the center-right Orthodox establishment may not emphasize music as much as other groups and denominations, the Chasidim are way into music. The Baal Shem Tov taught that the niggun could elevate the soul spiritually, and his followers, even today, continue to use niggunim in this way. These niggunim are often written by Rebbes themselves, and it's important that they be sung precisely and with several customs -- for example, usually each strain of the niggun should be sung twice. (There is a reason, like always, but I don't remember what it is.) Each Chasidic group has its own melodies, some of which also become popular throughout Judaism.

Finally, Jews have an immensely rich musical tradition that varies across the world, across denominations, and across the liturgy and Tanach. Why is music education not stressed in traditional yeshivot? I don't know. I didn't go to them. Maybe it actually is stressed and I just wasn't told -- I know of several schools with strong cantorial programs. But even if they're mumbling, Jews are always singing. Z'mirot, nigunim, pizmonim, t'hilim, you name it, we're always singing. Maybe instrumental music we don't do as much since the Temple is no longer standing, but we haven't stopped singing since.

  • Where did you learn of a nusach change in El Adon? – Mike Supports Monica Aug 16 '15 at 17:24
  • There's a YUTorah talk by Cantor Sherwin Goffin -- I don't remember which one, I'm sorry -- where he mentions this. In his Be A Ba'al Tefillah collection, he actually switches as Tif'eret in the middle of the Shevach paragraph. Haskel Lookstein just mentions switching after El Adon, but he assumes El Adon is sung rather than chanted. – Mauro Braunstein Aug 16 '15 at 21:51
  • Thank you very much for answering my original question. Your answer is very interesting and informative and has helped me clarify what I really wanted to ask. – user2817 Aug 17 '15 at 20:53

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