Are there any primary sources* that speak about art, literature, music, and so forth as being valid, or even necessary, forms of service and appreciation of God? Is there anywhere that explicitly states that appreciation for good music, say, is part of understanding and appreciating God's world? Are there any sources that expressly state that there is religious merit in "High Culture"?

*When I say primary, I ideally mean pre-1500's. That being said, anything, at any point in time, that is otherwise a widely accepted source would be fine for our purposes here. Nonetheless, I would ideally like Medieval or earlier.

  • 1
    – Aaron
    Feb 1, 2016 at 23:28
  • Did high culture exist in the medieval times?
    – Double AA
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:08
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    @DoubleAA There was certainly music, literature, plays, and so forth.
    – WhoKnows
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:39
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    The Levites played instruments in the temple.
    – mroll
    Feb 7, 2016 at 10:04

1 Answer 1


There definitely were many people who wrote religious songs and poems and literary works, some of which were incorporated into the Bible. Psalms, Song of Songs, etc. And there were many medieval authorities who wrote poems that were incorporated into the prayers for High Holy Days and fast days.

But as far as I know, nobody called these works "high culture". The idea of high culture vs. low culture does not seem to have originated in Judaism. In general, it is usually futile to try to take dualities or terms from outside Judaism or modern times and try to retrofit them to an ancient religion that existed long before those terms were ever used.

I believe these works were meant to be used universally by all Jews. A basic tenet of Judaism is that no Jew should consider himself superior to others due to his own achievements (see Iggeres HaRamban, etc.)

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