Limits are necessary

Was just in the car with my boybies. They have uploaded music to the hard drive in the car (did you know you could do that??) and love to listen to this noise when we are driving. I happened to see that the singer was Chris Brown. I asked them why they were listening to music by some guy who beat up his girlfriend – and this sparked a discussion.

My eldest explained to his brothers that for people like Chris Brown the fame goes to his head. When you have no boundaries, there is ample opportunity to do what you want and not have to face consequences. He made the connection that the Torah imposes limits on us – mitzvot and aveirot – in order to make us better people. If we have no limits, we can do whatever we want and there would be anarchy in this world. Every society needs guidelines on how to live. He said some of the rich and famous believe they are above the law because they can buy themselves out of trouble.

Only just 15, and already wise…

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  1. lady lock and load says:

    Part of the lyrics of Chris Brown’s song “All I Wanna Do”…

    Now all I wanna do
    is just kick it wit you
    and if you need somone true
    Just holla at ya dude
    If you want romance
    we can slow dance
    if you want some heat
    we can just hit the sheets….
    ICH! And this was the first song I clicked on. What a disgusting menuval whose mind is in the gutter.

    • Mark says:

      What a disgusting menuval whose mind is in the gutter.

      That describes many (most?) contemporary secular musicians.

      • lady lock and load says:

        I agree! Like Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, etc. Boruch Hashem there is plenty of Jewish music out there to listen to. I could THROW UP listening to these sick perverts who have no morals.

        • fille says:

          Well, I think you should judge a musician for his music, not for his morals.

          Personally, I do not like all of this stuff, neither jewish nor goyish, I am only into classical music and some types of folklore. But I am aware that many classical composers were no saints either…

          • Mark says:

            fille – Well, I think you should judge a musician for his music, not for his morals.

            Actually, I know nothing about the musicians morals. I don’t follow that kind of stuff. But I do know what some of the lyrics are.

        • judit says:

          Are you saying that Jewish musicians (or music) can’t be “sick perverts”?

  2. HSaboMilner says:

    i have told them that i dont want them to listen to this stuff, its just so WRONG – they say that they want to listen coz they like the beat.

    • lady lock and load says:

      There is plenty of Jewish music with a good beat, that is no excuse. Time to get them some good Jewish music for their birthdays and not this disgusting drivel.

    • s(b.) says:

      If they like beats, let them listen to Galactic. (you are the parent, please prescreen.)

    • batya from NJ says:

      you know, it’s tough doing the parenting thing & we as parents always have to pick our battles & some battles are just not worth fighting for…

      growing up, i went to a BY (right wing) girls’ school & i spent the 80′s listening to secular music but i truly believe that the music back then was much more innocent than the music of today. in addition, my school didn’t come out strongly against secular music & i was grateful to my parents that they allowed me to listen to whatever music i liked on the radio which was mostly soft rock type music. i was a faithful listener to Casey Cassim’s America’s Top 40 & I enjoyed listening to the countdown every week. it’s hard to know whether or not i would have rebelled against Orthodoxy had my parents forbade me from listening to secular music but L-rd knows, i’m SO glad they didn’t. that said, much of the secular music of today is quite shocking & the lyrics are so anti so many jewish values that we are trying to teach our children. however, i’ve chosen to follow the way my parents raised me regarding secular music & i’ve allowed my children listen to whatever music pleases them while giving them my opinion of whether or not i feel the songs seem appropriate or not. truth to be told, i rarely hear their songs b/c they usually listen to their music with their head-phones ;)!

      i will also add that i have specifically chosen NOT to send my children to right wing schools (which has its drawbacks too b/c no school is perfect for me at least ;)) but at least there is no inconsistency between what they are doing at home versus what their school is espousing to them which i feel is important. in addition, over the past several years i have stopped listening to secular music on the radio & have opted for various jewish CDs as well as popular israeli music (with generally nicer messages than the English secular music that abounds) & my kids have been enjoying & downloading many of my CDs onto their i-pods b/c they enjoy them as well.

      I think LLLs point is that since Hadassah has chosen to send her boys to a more Yeshivish/right wing Monsey school, it might be wise to encourage them to follow the rules of the school. I think especially in a community such as Monsey where the boys might run the risk of getting in “trouble” with the administration for breaking the rules (if word gets out among the boys’ friends etc), it might be something worth discussing with the boys.

      But again, as i said in the beginning of this post, parenting is SUCH a daunting task & different strategies must be employed with each of our children b/c they are all individuals & it is so difficult to know which battles we should fight with our kids & which we should just let slide b/c there are no easy answers especially when one is raising children with the hope that they will continue to follow in the traditions that are so important to us in the Orthodox community.

      • judit says:

        I fully agree with your last paragraph. I also think that the Orthodox values are important and precious and I think that making sure your children will follow your footsteps is by guiding them and not by forbidding them stuff just because we say so –or the rabbis say so. I am also aware that guidance is a lot more work than prohibition but I deeply believe it is worth the trouble. I was raised in a very liberal environment and I like to think that it gave me a well-balanced view of the world. From a very early age I got to set my own rules and had to be consistent about them. I learned to have rules and their importance the way it worked for me. I really value the hard work my parents invested in me because allowing your child to set their own rules requires so much more and so much closer attention that it can really be exhausting. Of course each child is different but this is the beauty in this method: they will have “customized” rules and that will teach them responsibility, obeisance, consistency and a lot more.

        Oh, and I am really glad to know that your kids didn’t go to right wing schools :-) It just personally warms my heart, if I can allow myself that :-)

        • batya from NJ says:

          well, thanks Judit & bear in mind that we specifically chose the community we moved to primarily b/c of the elementary school that we were interested in sending our then 5th grade & 1rst grade children to. i will add though that in hindsight even though we originally thought it was THE perfect school that would jive with our family’s hashkafot/religious idealogies, in reality it NOT perfect & many power struggles ensued between our children & ourselves. bottom line, there are pros & cons to every decision one makes in life & to every school one selects for their children etc.

          • judit says:

            Of course the school is not perfect, NOTHING is perfect. We all are human, make mistakes — even school people do — and that’s how it should be. What it all comes down to is what we make of all the imperfection of the world, I think.

            I always prefer a group of people (i.e school, party, whatever) who are aware of such imperfections to those who will try (well, struggle, really) to seem perfect — i.e. hypocrites. Because perfection is only possible on the surface, usually if you look beyond it you will see stuff that is worse than imperfection …

            I would bet that the above mentioned school did good to your children in the end.

      • fille says:

        “I think especially in a community such as Monsey where the boys might run the risk of getting in “trouble” with the administration for breaking the rules (if word gets out among the boys’ friends etc),”

        This sounds quite frightening to me.

        Reminds me of friend who grew up in communist eastern Germany. She said they were not allowed to tell their friends that they had watched “Biene Maja” (popular children’s cartoon in the 70ies), because this would betray that the watched “western TV” which was forbidden in the east.

        I get the impression that those hareidim with their censorship and group pressure are building up communities that are not so far from the communist countries in their days. Except that, up to now, they have no “executive power”, i.e. no hareidi police that it able to put people in jail…

        • batya from NJ says:

          Fille, I don’t disagree with what you’ve said & in fact i will add that some hareidi communities are reminiscent of Taliban type governments (which i refer to as Talibanistic Judaism) but these are not the communities in which i would EVER choose to live in.

        • judit says:

          oh, tell me about it … i grew up in Eastern Europe at the same era.

          btw, that reminds me, here is a good movie for you guys to watch:
          The Lives of Others

          A really great film about what was going on in East Germany at the time.

        • Mark says:

          fille – I get the impression that those hareidim with their censorship and group pressure are building up communities that are not so far from the communist countries in their days. Except that, up to now, they have no “executive power”, i.e. no hareidi police that it able to put people in jail…

          It’s a pretty good analogy. Sadly.

          And the fear of being ostracized is sometimes close (though very different due to the lack of physical danger) to fear of neighbors informing on you to the secret police.

  3. Chanief says:

    Interesting. Of course I don’t believe that it takes religion to keep things from devolving into utter anarchy, but that’s my opinion. He is a smart boy though.

    I do wonder, how the music they are listening to fits with the lifestyle you’re trying to pass on to them. I don’t mean this as criticism, I’m genuinely curious about how you reconcile the two. In addition, I’m fairly certain their yeshivos wouldn’t approve of this sort of music? How do you handle that with them?

    • HSaboMilner says:

      Chanief – it’s a long running battle. sigh. I myself listen to a lot of “secular” music – but the 80s bubblegum pop I listen to is vastly different from Eminem and the like. I try not to forbid things because that makes them more attractive, but we have opened a dialog about this kind of music, and they are starting to think things through a little more. Of course, I cannot control everything, but hope that they will see things in a different light once i have made them think about the lyrics.

      • lady lock and load says:

        Perhaps you can say to your boys that from now on we will have no secular music in the house MYSELF INCLUDED, now that we are in Monsey USA and the schools here do not approve of secular music. I myself have made sacrifices and avoided doing certain things for the sake of my children in Yeshiva. Kids tend to see things in black and white and will see no difference in the 80′s songs or the songs that they listen to now.

        • fille says:

          ehem: does it mean that you first have to steal the goyish hits and put a jewish text on it, a bit like mordechai ben david did it with the German song “Dschingis khan” in order to create”his” song “Yiden”????

          • lady lock and load says:

            So who cares? Let the kids see that from a song where the German Behaimos are singing “Dschingis Khan” , an Ehrlicher Yid with tzitzes dangling is singing a beaty song in Yiddish! Since when is this ossur? Better this than to listen to the various secular singers who are singing FILTH. The kids need something to listen to and maybe somebody could put Jewish lyrics to Chris Brown’s shmutz.

          • fille says:

            Never heard of copyright?

          • OlyC says:

            A song like that would probably be considered a parody (like Weird Al songs) and allowed under copyright laws.

          • Chanief says:

            I’m curious as to the actual legality of this sort of thing because I know a few Jewish singers who use secular tunes without getting permission of any sort…

          • batya from NJ says:

            LLL, I too have no problem with Jewish lyrics to non-Jewish music as long as the Jewish song-writer isn’t doing anything illegal by using the non-Jewish tunes. I happen to love the Shlock Rock songs & so many other songs with the mainstream secular beat & the positive Jewish message that they attempt to convey. I know that some Rabbis have come out against Lipa Schmeltzer & others who they feel aren’t singing “authentic” Jewish tunes but I totally disagree with them b/c if they Assur (forbid) the community from listening to Jewish singers who are singing Jewish messages with a non-traditional beat, they will only turn away many more people from the religion which is a terrible shame.

          • fille says:

            And what about this?

            Jewish text, jewish composer….

          • batya from NJ says:

            fille, personally i’m not so into classical music so i can’t say i loved the few minutes i spent listening to this one…

          • fille says:

            hmm. I am not quite sure I expressed myself clearly when asking my question:

            How do you define “jewish music”?

            What has to be jewish? The composer? The text?

            Can music composed by a jew on a jewish text (tehilim) for christian purposes, as it is the case here, be counted as jewish?

          • fille says:

            Just want to tell you that the concept of “jewish music” per se is a very shaky concept.

            And no, Dschingis khan does not become “less goyish” just because MBD sings it… (hu, ha!)

          • fille says:

            Is this jewish music?

            Non-jewish tune on a jewish text…

          • Chanief says:

            Do you know the singers of Dschingis Khan personally? I’m curious as to what makes you categorize them as Behaimos? Is it simply because they are German? Because they’re not Jewish? or do you just take offense at their apalling fashion sense?

  4. fille says:

    Well, I suppose that the problem with “buying yourself out of trouble” is also very present in the jewish-orthodox society: see the posts about “full tuition payers” in yeshivot on the “frum satire” blog.

    Since schools and institutions are mostly privately sponsored in “the jewish world”, there is a high risk of bias or even abuse of power by those who own the money that sponsors it all. It is especially conspicuous in the schools (where the children of rich or “chosheve” people often receive a favour treatment), but I think it applies by and large to all jewish institutions…

    PS: I come from a country where 80% of pupils go to public schools…

  5. lady lock and load says:

    Something interesting I read relates to this “Embracing Bais Yaakov Dress Standards- differences between Mother and Daughter”.

  6. Huh. The post itself was not that interesting to me, as I’m sans kids & a fan of Chris Brown’s music myself, despite his abhorrent morals… but I’m surprised to read through the comments & learn that there are folks who feel that Jewish children should not listen to secular music. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as I knew plenty of Christian families growing up who only let their kids listen to Christian music, but… I just think it bodes poorly for the kids down the road. As you said, forbidding it makes it that much more appealing – & so many of those Christian kids I knew growing up have now left religion entirely & feel nothing but distaste for the way their parents raised them. I very much like & respect your decision to let your kids listen to secular music but to dialogue about it – & clearly your son is coming to some interesting, Jewishly based conclusions by breaking down the stories behind the music. So perhaps it’s benefiting him Jewishly after all?

    • judit says:

      I absolutely agree with you. What is the point in forcing our children to not acknowledge or even enjoy the secular (or, g-d forbid, other religious) world and therefore taking away some of their possibility of growth? I mean, people grow by observing the world, and the more of the world do they observe, the more they grow. This is why I like what HSM chose to do: not forbidding but dialoguing. The secular world surrounds us from every angle, it would be utterly unwise to pretend it doesn’t exist or to not let its benefits help us grow. Because growth is not by experiencing only what we think is appropriate but the world in whole.

      Limits are necessary, I agree, but let’s all not go back to the dark Middle Ages and burn books we think are not appropriate … or lyrics, for that matter.

      • Chanief says:

        I agree with you, however, I know that many yeshivot do not allow their students to listen to secular music. Regardless of what I think about their rules, I question the wink and nod attitude toward school rules that I see so much of with families who send their children to Orthodox schools.

  7. Hadass Eviatar says:

    I agree with Suburban Sweetheart (except I can’t stand Chris Brown, and it’s not the morals – I don’t like Rihanna, either). I don’t see the point of hiding kids from the world. Better to talk and have them figure it out themselves. BTW I loathe Schlock Rock, my kids like it but I make them turn it off when I’m around! No accounting for tastes.

    • lady lock and load says:

      If a person chooses to send their kids to a Yeshiva where such music is frowned upon and the other children do not listen to this, it is better for the child not to listen. Otherwise they get conflicting messages.

      • judit says:

        They might just listen to secular music secretly … the world is surrounding every one of us, even those of us who don’t want to know about it.

    • A perfectly valid statement. My mother, religious or not, made me turn off the radio a great many times – particularly during my middle school country music phase!

  8. judit says:

    Here is a thought: I think if we decide to leave the secular world outside and we don’t want to have to do anything with it, it would also be advisable to not use the Internet, cable TV (well, any TV, really), only read jewish newspapers, etc. Otherwise I can’t help but think that the exclusiveness is hypocritical.

    • lady lock and load says:

      The yeshivos frown upon internet and TV very strongly.

      • judit says:

        So, do you or your kids use them?

        • lady lock and load says:

          We have never had a television set in our home. By the time the schools here in Monsey (some of them) frowned upon internet usage by their students, my children were in College and needed the computer to do their assignments.
          I feel that there should be consistancy between what the school says and what the family says, or else it is very confusing for children. We have always obeyed school rules.

          • judit says:

            i don’t know if you see what i mean. you are now using the internet and you agree that your kids needed it for their assignments. i am pretty sure they used it for other stuff, too, not just for the assignments, though, which is normal and healthy. or do you mean that in college the children can’t be influenced anymore by “bad” secular stuff, and therefore in college it can be allowed to be in touch with the world, while beforehand it only could harm the kids? there may have been consistency between your family and school but there is very little in your arguments …

          • lady lock and load says:

            The Yeshivos that I sent to were pro college and internet usage to complete assignments. Very important in our circles that women have good jobs to help support husbands who are studying in Yeshiva.
            I guess they feel that kids in elementary school are not so mature and they have observed consequences of their students being on the Internet. All I am saying is if I chose to send my children to a Yeshiva I should help my children obey and respect their school by following their rules. Or else I should send elsewhere.
            For example let’s say someone has daughters and she is sending them to a yeshiva which has a dress code in school and out of school. That yeshiva may expect the mother to also abide by this standard. And it is easier for the girl to obey the school if they see their mother following the rules as well.

          • judit says:

            And all I am saying is either you think of something as inappropriate and you yourself follow through with your principles or els those principles don’t make any sense and are not more than plain hypocracy.

          • lady lock and load says:

            In my humble opinion, Internet usage by young school age children is not appropriate. I don’t feel like I am a hypocrite at all and I agree with the schools standards, that is why I sent to these schools to begin with. I am pretty allergic to hypocrisy and if you knew me you would understand. Maybe someday we will have an “In the Pink Picnic” and we will all meet!

          • judit says:

            well, then you are in for a big surprise, LLL. there is a lot of appropriate content on the internet for school age children the thing is guidance, not prohibition.

            i don’t know you, obviously, and therefore i can only form an opinion about what you say here, and based on it. if you say you don’t like hypocrisy, i believe you. only your posts are not suggesting so, is all.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Jewish music of today is neither music nor particularly Jewish. I can definitely understand anyone (especially a teen)’s resistance to it as it is way inferior to much of what has been produced “out there” for the past bunch of decades. Jewish music offends me, personally, on the following counts: it is often noise set to lyrics rather than there being thought given to either component, and, far worse, because the lyrics are holy in nature (as they are 99 percent of the time lifted straight from Tanach/tefilla/ etc – when it’s English lyrics then it’s just terrible all around) and yet they are set to some sort of beat that is rarely in sync with the lyrics. Lines from kedusha set to a techno beat? Songs about Amalek? Altogether music that poses as holy, I think, carries its own risk when it does not live up to it what it proposes to do.
    In addition, let’s not kid ourselves. Our ostensibly religious singers haven’t always lived up to our standards, either, in fact I know of a handful or popular singers who were involved in anything from embezzlement to actual rape.
    While many yeshivas frown upon secular music as a whole, rarely have I found that the students comply. It is impossible to stop and ends up backfiring, and in general, I cannot imagine that this is the biggest problem we face with our youth today. If anything, I think the ever growing disconnect between the authority and the kids is more the issue.

    • fille says:

      The only advantage I an find in this no non-jewish-music policy is to give children rules that they can break.

      Better break the no-non-jewish-music rule than have to do drugs or stealing to find a rule to break…

      • Mark says:

        Heh heh … great point. “Small” rules, small breaks in the rules. Only “big” rules, maybe only big breaks in the rules?

      • judit says:

        and what makes you think that the no secular music rule is the one rule they break? :-)

      • Chanief says:

        Often, breaking the secular music rule is a gateway to breaking other rules. I know it was one of the first for me! A better approach is to allow the music but urge parental guidance (like Hadassah’s engaging in dialogue about the music and turning it into an opportunity to learn.) I think that one of the ways in which the Orthodox community goes wrong is that relatively unimportant rules (like not listening to secular music,) are taken as seriously as important ones. It becomes easier to break the larger rules when you’ve broken the small ones and not felt anything about it.

  10. fille says:

    PS: I completely agree with those “kosher music” rules that were published about a year ago.

    (Since I only like classics and abhorr most kinds of music with a strong beat in the background, it fits me perfectly…)

    (I suppose those Rabbis, being over 80, in their majority, feel about the same as me…)

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