Rethinking Music Making: A Teshuvah for the Conservative Movement

By Elie Kaplan Spitz

Josh Rolnick, The Sh'ma Institute, June 2011

The author describes his work with Rabbi Elliot Dorff on a legal responsum (teshuvah) that is revisiting the question of whether instrumental music is permitted on Shabbat and Yom Tov. This responsum seeks to define the permissible uses of a broad array of instruments, prescribing certain limitations (which many may feel are too restrictive) and offering permission for others (which will disturb some). The conclusion is that music making, itself, is not forbidden; only making an instrument or fixing it is prohibited. In that regard, the sources forbid replacing a musical string on Shabbat but may permit tuning. Therefore the authors encourage synagogues to provide for instruments or storage for instruments in order to avoid the need for musicians to carry their instruments from a private to a public domain. And they ask that stage set-up and electrical equipment be put into place before Shabbat. Their goal is to provide a balance between enabling music and honoring Shabbat.

Topic: Halakha, Congregations and Synagogues, Jewish Law, Masorti Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Music, Synagogues and Congregations

Name of Publication: Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas

Editor: Berrin, Susan

Volume/Issue: Vol.41/no.681

Page Number(s): 8-9

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Kaplan Spitz, Elie. Rethinking Music Making: A Teshuvah for the Conservative Movement. Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas. Josh Rolnick, The Sh'ma Institute. June 2011: 8-9.


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