From the Rav’s Desk: Is whistling permitted and is it considered the ways of Gentiles?

  1. Question: [Thursday, 19th Teves 5781]

I have heard many times that whistling is a Gentile custom and therefore one should not whistle. Recently someone also told me that according to the Zohar whistling draws down many evil spirits and therefore is forbidden to be done. Can you please clarify the true Torah perspective on this matter?



It is permitted for one to whistle even on Shabbos, and certainly during the week, and so was done by the Chassidic gatherings by the Rebbe, and so was encouraged by the Rebbe. Whistling out of joy in one’s service of God is a good and precious thing. I am not aware of any explicit source to say otherwise neither in Kabbalah or other works. I cannot fathom as to why whistling would have anything to do with the ways of the Gentiles, and certainly this concept is negated from the fact that it is expressly recorded in the Poskim to be allowed on Shabbos.

Explanation: It is an explicit ruling in the Rishonim and Poskim that whistling is permitted, and that it is permitted to whistle even on Shabbos. Likewise, the concept of whistling is recorded in Scripture, as it states that in the future era Hashem will whistle. Likewise, it seems from scripture that Dovid Hamelech whistled when he celebrated the return of the Ark. While there are many superstitions relating to it, such as that whistling summons demons if one does so inside of his home, there is no need to pay any attention to this. I am not aware of any explicit source in the works of Kabbalah which negate whistling although perhaps a hint to this can be found from certain sources. In 5736, the Rebbe dedicated an entire talk to this subject, in which he explicitly negates any prohibition, or any ways of the Gentiles involved in whistling.

Sources: See regarding whistling on Shabbos: Admur 338:2; Rama 238:1; Darkei Moshe 338:4; M”A 338:2; Shiltei Hagiborim Eiruvin 35b in name of Riaz; P”M 338 A”A 2; Machazik Bracha 338:1 that so is the custom and ruling of Achronim; Aruch Hashulchan 338:6-7; M”B 338:3; Orchos Chaim 338:4; Kaf Hachaim 338:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 338:4; Rav Yaakov Yosef and his father Rav Ovadia Yosef rule it is permitted ; See Hiskashrus 674; Sefer Hasichos 5752 p. 186; Sources in Scripture and Talmud and Rishonim that discuss whistling: Shmuel 2 6:16; Yeshayahu 7:18; Zecharia 10:8; Chulin 63a; Rambam end of Hilchos Lulav See regarding the connection of whistling and demons or witchcraft: Shabbos Beshabato p. 327; Eiyn Zocher of Chida Mareches Alef 34; Koach Shur 31; The following Sefarim speak of the negation of whistling: Orchos Shabbos 2 p. 329 footnote 60; Maaseh Ish 1 p. 167-1687; Maaseh Eifod 1:100; See Sicha of Rebbe: Sichos Kodesh 5736 Purim Sicha 8

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