Friday, August 03, 2007

A Ban on Music Concerts

It seems that Torah leaders in Israel have banned Jewish music concerts (link). Personally, I don't know what goes on at these concerts. The only Jewish music concerts I've attended were by Uncle Moishy which, despite the declarations on the stage (not by Uncle Moishy) that the deceased Lubavitcher Rebbe is alive and is the messiah, were never banned (link). In fact, I seem to recall a large annual "Greet Moshiach" concert that is popular among yeshiva students in Israel and which has never been banned (link). But, as I wrote above, I've never been to an adult Jewish music concert. I have read accusations in the newspapers about serious drug and sex problems backstage at Jewish concerts but I have no idea of how accurate or prevalent these problems are. Be that as it may, while a ban wil stop some from attending concerts, will it really solve the underlying problem or just force people to find other ways to act as they wish? And what about the negative fallout from the seemingly unending bans? Surely these leaders care about all of Kelal Yisrael and certainly the entire religious coomunity. Do the signatories on this ban really think that it will have a positive impact on the community at large?

From my perspective of admitted limited sight, each ban makes it ever harder to be a good Jew and estranges more and more of these rabbis' followers. Most people cannot sit and learn at all times and will seek leisure activities. If everything is equally forbidden, at least on a social level, then people who have reached the breaking point and are looking for outlets will fail to properly discriminate between possibilities. We need kosher leisure activities. We need it to be acceptable to be a balebus. If concerts as they are currently held are unacceptable, we need to change the current system rather than just outlaw it.

I see three possible explanations of this ban.

1. These rabbis disagree and believe that they must lead their flock of Torah students and scholars, and let other leaders worry about the rest of the community.

2. The rabbis are being fed specific information that may be presented in a manner that is guaranteed to elicit righteous outrage. In other word, their hands are being forced. Despite this, the rabbis continue trusting advisors who lead them into these highly publicized debacles that will eventually erode their global influence.

3. These rabbis regularly get involved in improving communal situations. However, lacking any formal authority their only leverage to enforce their reasonable demands is a ban and, should they refuse to wield it when negotiations fail, they would lose all ability to positively influence the commnity.

I prefer to judge favorably but I've become somewhat of a bitter cynic over the years.

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