Rav Avigdor Miller on The Two Sides of Music
The Rav said tonight that Dovid Hamelech reached greatness because of his constant singing of praises to Hashem. But the Rav has said in the past that music lessons for children are a waste of time. Can that be explained more clearly?
Yes, I’ll explain. Shiru lo, zamru lo (Tehillim 105:2) What does that mean? Shiru lo means to say poetry to Hashem. Not singing, but poetry. To talk with enthusiasm – to speak in an enthusiastic manner. That’s poetry. And then it says zamru lo, sing with music to Hashem. Not only to say poetry to Hashem but to sing with music as well. So we see that it’s a mitzvah to show our happiness and gratitude to Hashem with music as well. It’s a mitzvah.
Now, if we teach our children to be grateful to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, that’s the first step. Parents have to teach their children to appreciate all the things that we mentioned here tonight (Tape E-213 “The First Step on the Path to Greatness”). And it’s a very big task. But to teach your son how to sing with music before that first step is like telling a person to blow into a horn. But he doesn’t know what to blow. He has no notes. And so his blowing the horn is nothing. And therefore, the first thing is to train your children in the art of thanking Hashem. Most people play music and they don’t thank Hashem. They don’t think about Hashem at all. And that’s why it’s a waste of time.
When you pass a music store you should know that it’s a place for meshuga’im. Only wild people frequent such a place. No decent people go into a music store today. Because all it is, is a wildness of the nerves. Music excites the nerves for nothing.
But if you have a tzadik – an eved Hashem who learned how to talk about Hashem and how to thank Hashem, and now he wants to express himself with song, that’s different. That’s the shiru lo zamru lo that Dovid Hamelech was speaking about.
I once went into a certain shteibel and a Rebbe was sitting there singing. I can’t forget it. He was singing anah anah av’dah di’kudshah brichhu. It went into my blood and I’ll never forget it. That’s already something else. A man who has yiras shamayim and he’s singing and he’s putting all of his yiras shamayim into the song. That’s something else entirely! I was listening to him and it had a tremendous influence on me.
But some people want to play music and sing, but their minds are empty. That’s a one hundred percent waste of time. Just to arouse your nerves by the excitement of music without having the noble thoughts to accompany the music is nothing.
And that’s why it’s so important to teach out children to sing to Hakodosh Boruch Hu about everything in our lives that we mentioned tonight. Shiru lo. Lo! To Him! That’s the first step. And after they accomplish that, if they are already perfect in the shiru lo – in the avodah of speaking with enthusiasm about Hashem – then you can move onto zamru lo, and teach your child music so that he’ll be able to sing and thank Hashem with music.