Music during Sefirah

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*All customs listed below are only practiced during the period of time in which one is accustomed to observe the mourning customs, as explained in the previous Halacha. For semantic purposes we will refer to this as “the mourning period of Sefira”. All mourning customs apply both to men and women unless explicitly stated otherwise!

 

Music

May one listen to music during Sefira?

Based on a widespread custom of Jewry, it is forbidden to listen to music during Sefira even if one will not be dancing.[1] This applies whether the music is live or recorded.[2] This applies likewise to Chassidic Niggunim, whether a slow or fast Niggun.[3] אלה הם מועדי ח”ג סי’ סג-סה

 

May one listen to recorded music on a tape; CD; Ipod; MP3 and the like?

No, as stated above

 

May one sing during Sefira?[4]

The custom is to allow singing during Sefira.[5] However, some Poskim[6] are stringent. Some[7] rule that during a meal with friends, although one may sing soulful melody’s of Avodas Hashem, one is not allowed to sing songs of joy that can lead to dancing.

 

A Cappella music:

Many are accustomed to permit listening to A cappella[8] music during Sefira.[9] However, there are Poskim[10] who are stringent to prohibit listening to music even of such nature.

 

Mitzvah purposes

May one hear music during a Seudas Mitzvah, such as a Bar Mitzvah; Bris Mila, Pidyon Haben, Sheva Brachos, Hachanasas Sefer Torah, Siyum Misechta?

Many Poskim[11] rule it is permitted to play music during a Seudas Mitzvah, such as by a Bris, Pidyon Haben, Bar Mitzvah.[12] However, other Poskim[13] rule it is forbidden to play music. [Practically, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Groner to visit the wedding halls on Lag Baomer and ask them to stop playing the music starting from sunset.[14] From here we can deduce that in the Rebbe’s opinion it is forbidden to dance even by a Seudas Mitzvah.] 

 

May one dance on Shabbos in honor of a Chasan or Bar Mitzvah?[15]

Yes. This applies even by Shabbos Chazon.[16]

 

May one hear music by a dinner held for an organization?[17]

No.

For non-enjoyment purposes

May a musician play music during Sefira as part of his occupation?[18]

Yes.[19]

 

May one practice music during Sefira?[20]

It is permitted to practice music during the days of Sefira for Parnasa purposes.[21] It is forbidden to do so for mere pleasure. Likewise, students may not practice playing music on their own during this time, [if it is not for Parnasa purposes].[22]

 

May a music teacher continue teaching during Sefira?

If the teacher is doing so for his Parnasa and the student is also learning for Parnasa purposes then it is permitted to teach during Sefira.[23] If however the student is not learning for purposes of Parnasa then seemingly it is forbidden for him to be taught. However, some Poskim[24] are lenient even in such a case, so long as the teacher is doing so for Parnasa purposes.

 

May one listen to music for emotional and mental health purposes?  

Yes. One may listen to music in order to remove depression, anxiety and other mental or emotional instabilities. This applies especially towards women.[25]

 

May one perform exercise to the beat of music during the three weeks?

Seemingly one may do so up until the nine days[26], and perhaps he may do so even during the nine days.[27]

 

May one enter into an area where music is playing, such as a bus, store and the like?[28]

Yes.

Children

May one play music by school outings and events in order to help electrify the mood?

No.

 

May children play/hear music and dance during Sefirah?[29]

No.

 

May one play music for children who are practicing a skit or play?

Some Poskim[30] rule it is permitted to play music for children for them to practice a skit or play.

 

May music be played by a children’s rally?

Some[31] write that if one makes a Siyum Misechta by the rally then it is allowed to play music.

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[1] Aruch Hashulchan 493:2; Igros Moshe 1:166; 3:87; Minchas Yitzchak 1:111; Kinyan Torah 2:99; Yechaveh Daas 3:30; Mishneh Halachos 8:188; Az Nidbaru 10:23; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:13; 493:4

The reason: Although there is no explicit source in earlier Poskim to forbid listening to music, nonetheless, so is the accepted custom. Furthermore, perhaps this custom is included in the prohibition of dancing during Sefirah. [Poskim ibid] Some Poskim rule that this custom has the status of a vow and it is Biblically forbidden to break it. [Minchas Yitzchak ibid]

[2] Poskim ibid in previous footnote

[3] See Moed Lekol Chaiy 10:19, brought in Kaf Hachaim 551:41 that even by singing of the mouth it is better not to sing even slow Niggunim which break the heart; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:13; There is no reason to differentiate, as all music has a power of Simcha, and singing a soulful Niggun also gives one Simcha. Admur in various areas of Chassidus writes that some people enjoy fast music while others enjoy slow, depressing music, and each one has a different pleasure. So I received from various Morei Hora’s. However, some are lenient in this matter. Each person is to contact his Rav.

[4] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:4

[5] See Igros Moshe 1:166

[6] See Leket Yosher that the Terumos Hadeshen did not sing during Sefira; Moed Lekol Chaiy 10:19, brought in Kaf Hachaim 551:41, that even by singing of the mouth it is better not to sing even slow Niggunim which break the heart; Yosef Ometz p. 128; Makor Chaim 551:1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:13; Nitei Gavriel 10 footnote 2; Yechaveh Daas 6:32; Rav SZ”A is quoted to rule that songs which involve Avodas Hashem [slow Niggunim] may be sung while those songs that involve simple joy which lead to dancing may not be sung.

[7] Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:4 and footnote 35 in name of Rav SZ”A that songs which involve Avodas Hashem [slow Niggunim] may be sung while those songs that involve simple joy which lead to dancing may not be sung.

[8] Music that is not accompanied by instruments of any sort and is merely vocal.

[9] Igros Moshe 1:166; See Sheivet Halevi 8:127 that states the widespread even amongst G-d fearing Jews is to listen to such music [it is however unclear from his reponsa if he is referring to the entire year or even the period of the three weeks]

[10] Sheivet Halevi 8:127 [in his personal opinion]; Az Nidbaru 8:58; Tzitz Eliezer 15:33; opinion brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:4

[11] Regarding dancing: Implication of M”A 493:1; M”B 493:3 that the prohibition only applies by “Seudas Reshus”; Implication of Elya Raba 493:2; P”M 493 A”A1; Machatzis Hashekel 493:1 who permit dancing by a Seudas Eirusin; and so rule: Keren Ledavid 119; Igros Moshe 2:95 and in Even Haezer 1:97; Mishneh Halachos 6:109; Yechaveh Daas 6:34

So rules regarding three weeks [up until nine days]: Kneses Hagedola 551:33; Chaim Sheol 1:21; Oas Chaim Veshalom 265:29 regarding Bris; Mishneh Halachos 6:109 in name of Rav Moshe Feinstein regarding Sheva Brachos; Kaf Hachaim 551:40 [regarding music by Mila] depends this matter on the dispute regarding whether one may build for the need of a Mitzvah [see Rama 551:2 “For the need of a Mitzvah it [building] is all permitted”; The Kaf Hachaim 551:33 brings Poskim that argue on Rama.] The Kaf Hachaim ibid concludes that those which are lenient have upon whom to rely.

[12] See Rashal Baba Kama 7:37 that a Bar Mitzvah is considered a Seudas Mitzvah even if it is not taking place on time, so long as Drasha is recited.

[13] Maharsham 493 in name of Daas Kedoshim; Minchas Yitzchak 1:111; Shraga Hameir 2:13

So rules regarding three weeks: Elya Raba 551:26; Siddur Yaavetz; Initial ruling of Kaf Hachaim ibid

Opinion of Admur: Admur 493:1 prohibits dancing by a Kedushin party, thus implying that one may not dance even by a Seudas Mitzvah, [see Admur 249:8 that Seudas Eirusin is a Seudas Mitzvah] and certainly not by a Seudas Reshus. However, perhaps a Seudas Eirusin has Simcha Yiseira and is therefore forbidden, as opposed to other forms of Seudas Mitzvah. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[14] Heard from Rabbi Groner, however the dancing may continue

[15] Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:5 in name of Makor Chaim 551

[16] The reason: As public Aveilus is not accustomed on Shabbos. However this requires further analysis as private Aveilus is accustomed on Shabbos and hence perhaps only a community that commonly dances on Shabbos is allowed to continue dancing. However see Likkutei Sichos 4:1090 that one must add in even more Oneg and Simcha on the Shabbosim of Bein Hametzarim in order so no one think there is any worry of Aveilus on Shabbos.

[17] Minchas Yitzchak 1:111; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493:5

[18] Igros Moshe 3:87; Kinyan Torah 2:99; See P”M 551 A”A 10

[19] The reason: As when doing so for Parnasa purposes it is not considered a matter of Simcha for this person. [ibid]

[20] Igros Moshe 3:87; Kinyan Torah 2:99; See P”M 551 A”A 10

[21] The reason: As when doing so for Parnasa purposes it is not considered a matter of Simcha for this person. [ibid]

[22] Betzeil Hachochmah 6:61; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:14

[23] The reason: As although the teacher is permitted to hear music being that he does not receive pleasure when doing so for Parnasa, however the student does not have such an allowance.

[24] Zecher Simcha 63; Tzitz Eliezer 16:19; See Mahrahm Shick 368; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:14; See Nitei Gavriel 53:6 who does not differentiate regarding the students; Halichos Bas Yisrael 24 footnote 5 [brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 493 footnote 37] that teachers of a class may prepare the class for a play or skit even if it involves playing music for them as part of the play or skit.

[25] See Shevet Halevi 8:127 “Especially the women who do so to remove their depression, and it is permitted” [however it is unclear if he refers to during the year or even during bein Hametzarim]; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 394 footnote 36; Chelkas Yaakov 1:61 and 3:98 regarding Shabbos

The reason: As the music is not being listened to for purposes of joy and dancing but for therapeutic purposes, and in such a case the custom was never accepted to prohibit the music.

[26] As one is not doing so for purpose of pleasure and is hence similar to the allowance given to practicing music for purposes of Parnasa.

[27] As ruled in M”A 560:9 that playing music for the sake of performing a work was never included in the prohibition of playing music after the Churban, and perhaps the same applies likewise during the nine days.

[28] Ashel Avraham Butchach 553; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:14

[29] Piskeiy Teshuvos 493 footnote 37

[30] Koveitz Mibeis Levi 1:57; Halichos Bas Yisrael 24:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493 footnote 37

[31] Hiskashrus based on Likkutei Sichos 37 p. 122 “In order for the rally to be permitted according to all it should be connected to a Siyum  Misechta.” The Rebbe does not make clear as to whether this is done to allow live music, recorded music or simply singing and dancing.

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