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The King of Instruments


Rabbi David Sperling

Cheshvan 26, 5780
Is a jew allowed to learn to play the Pipe Organ? Why or why not?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. It is not clear to me exactly what would be the issue that leads to your question – and as such I fear that there might be some underlying question that I am missing. If so, please feel free to write again with more background information. But, based purely on my limited understanding of your question I will attempt to answer. There may be several issues with learning to play a musical instrument - Firstly, since the destruction of the Temple there have been limitations in the area of music, as an expression of our mourning for the Temple. Without getting into all the opinions and sources, it is enough to say that the accepted practice of religious Jews today is to allow learning and playing of musical instrustments. Next, in relation to the pipe organ (called by some people the “king of the instruments”), there certainly would be a problem learning to play one if it was built in a church. However, one can find these organs in concert halls and other places, so that shouldn't be an issue. Further more, much music written for the pipe organ is of a Christian religious nature – this too could raise issues of permeability. But, if one were to steer clear of such music, this too would not be a problem. All in all, there seems to be no difference between learning the pipe organ and learning any other instrument, which is a widely spread practice among religious Jews today. Blessings.
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