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Q&A: “Christmas” Music

December 23, 2014

Question: I love Christmas music. I find the melodies appealing. Not getting into music itself being assur (assuming we’re following the opinion of the Rema and Tosafot), is it an issue to listen to? Please discuss whether modern day christianity is avoda zara, and if non-religious holiday spirit songs would be an issue.

Answer: I believe it is pretty clear that Christianity is a form of idolatry, and that halachically, whatever is prohibited to a Jew is also prohibited to a gentile. All of the opinions that hold that Christianity is not idolatry or that it is a form prohibited to Jews but permitted to gentiles are post-facto contrivances designed to protect the Jews of medieval Europe from the wrath of righteous Christian love.

These fellows seem to have the bases covered, although I would add that with regard to the mystical effects of music, I don’t believe any of that, and neither did Maimonides. I recall that R’ Schachter felt that “a composer puts a little of himself into his music,” and therefore even a kosher song (i.e., kosher according to the standards Maimonides describes in his Commentary to Avoth 1:17 in the Vilna edition) with the wrong composer is not kosher, and even if it is just a tune without words. I do not believe that his opinion is in line with that of the rationalist Rishonim, and that what makes a song kosher or not is the words and/or the one who is actually singing or playing it.

It would also do you well to consider what mood the music conveys. Goofy, non-religious “Holiday”-season music is like eating ice for the nutrition.

Back in the days when our ancestors had to sit around and dread the coming of Christmas and Easter, the tunes associated with the holidays did nothing but strike fear in their hearts. Thank God you do not know about this firsthand, or even secondhand.

Bottom line: Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer is stupid and harmless, so you can listen to it if you want. but why would you?

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