Observing Selichot

Rabbi Lau: It is appropriate to observe Selichot without musical instruments

Israel's chief rabbi, Rabbi David Lau, published a letter in response to the requests sent that "it is appropriate to observe Selichot without musical instruments, but it should not be prevented"

(Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Rabbi Lau doesn't dismiss musical forgiveness. In response to inquiries that reached the office of the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Lau, in recent days regarding the integration of musical instruments during the recitation of forgiveness prayers (Selichot), the Chief Rabbi replied that "the phenomenon of combining forgiveness prayers with musical instruments is not new and it exists. Initially, one should adhere to the manner of reciting the forgiveness prayers as they were traditionally recited without musical instruments. However, since there are those who feel that musical instruments enhance their connection to prayer, it should not be prevented."

The rabbi's full letter that was published

Furthermore, the rabbi adds and refers to past opposition to the phenomenon: "The struggle that was conducted in the past against the integration of musical instruments was due to the fact that it was the way Reform Jews prayed, introducing foreign elements, and their prayer resembled that of churches with organ playing. This was prohibited due to 'You shall not follow their statutes.' The great leaders of Israel who prohibited bringing musical instruments into the synagogue on Shabbat and holidays also prohibited it even if the musician is not Jewish. They saw in this a breach in the wall of religion."

And the rabbi concludes his letter by noting that "today the matter has settled down and it does not seem that accompanying the saying of selichot with the playing of guitars or a violin has anything to do with the customs of the Gentiles. As has been the tradition for generations, the organ is prohibited even today due to the constitutions of the Gentiles. But other musical instruments can be allowed."

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