Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What is the difference between Mozart and Yeedle Werdyger?

The Jewish blogosphere is steaming over the discovery by Pravda Ne'eman that Yeted Ne'eman quoted a KKK/racist publication ....... in an article posted in OCTOBER 2003!! It is, of course. disgusting, and sad. (In parenthesis, the editor of Pravda Ne'eman should go get a life rather than spend his (?her) time reading back issues of Yeted Neeman.)

However, relate for a moment to both the quote itself and to the subject of the Yeted article -- the banal and tiresome level of music at (some) frum weddings. Look at the fact that Yeted can quote from a KKK publication (and then defend the quote, apparently, in equally offensive ways) and simultaneously complain about the low cultural standard in their own community.

Both are actually products of THE SAME PHENOMENON -- lack of basic education and culture in wide sections of the Haredi community, meaning that they lack the tools to discriminate / discern between any levels of culture. Putting it another way -- if you don't teach history or literature, your children cannot tell (or appreciate) the difference between a KKK paper and the New York Times; and if you don't teach music, they cannot tell (or appreciate) the difference between Mozart and Yeedle Werdyger.

In fact, this point was made decades ago in a really important, and prescient, article* by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg. In Tradition, some time in the late 1960's (??) he wrote an article called 'The greening of American Orthodoxy', in which he pointed out precisely that the lack of cultural sophistication in the Orthodox community, a result of the negative attitude towards general education and culture, led to a general 'dumbing down' of standards - in which the cheapest and most meretricious products of mass culture, because the most easily accessible, were the ones which penetrated Haredi society. The rejection of education thus led to exactly the oppposite result of what was intended.

Rabbi Luft - if you want to raise the level of music at frum weddings - start teaching serious music appreciation in your schools.

* all the rest of this paragraph is from memory. If anyone can correct my memory, or, even better, find the article on-line, I'd be grateful. It was the first time I came across Yitz Greenberg. He was decades ahead of his time, then and now.

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