Arachin 11 - Who Played Flutes in the Temple?
Rabbi Meir's opinion is that it was the slaves of the Kohanim who played flutes in the Temple, Rabbi Yose says that they were from a family of regular Jews, Israelim, but of especially pure lineage, and Rabbi Chanina says that it was the Levites. What is the logic of their disagreement?
Rabbi Meir holds that the essential music of the Temple is vocal, and instrumental music was only for accompaniment, so anybody could play flutes, while Rabbi Chanina holds that the essence of music is instrumental, and thus flutes had to be played by the Levites, the official Temple musicians.
However, this does not explain Rabbi Yose, who holds an in-between position. We have to take it back: everybody believes that the essence of Temple music is singing, and their argument is about something else: does the court assume that once someone was seen playing music in the Temple, he is automatically considered to be Levy and fit to receive the tithe. Rabbi Meir says that the court makes no such assumption, therefore even slaves can play - nobody will make them Levites because of that, and Rabbi Chanina says that music playing is evidence that he is a Levite.
Art: Judith Leyster- Young Flute Player