May a man Daven or learn Torah while hearing his daughter, sister, or mother singing, or Davening out loud in a song?

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May a man Daven or learn Torah while hearing his daughter, sister, or mother singing, or Davening out loud in a song?

  • It is customary for people to sing various parts of Davening. May a man Daven while hearing his mother, daughter, or sister singing parts of Davening? May they Daven in the same room in such a case?

Introduction:

Kol Isha Erva: The singing[1] voice of a woman is [Rabbinically[2]] an Erva.[3] This applies whether she is single[4] or married, and even towards the voice of one’s own wife[5] [even while she is pure[6]]. [This applies to woman of all ages, whether old or young, and to women of all levels of attraction.[7]]

Davening and learning Torah:[8] Being that the singing voice of a woman is an Erva, it is therefore [Rabbinically[9]] forbidden[10] for a man to recite Kerias Shema, or Daven, or recite words of Torah while hearing it. As stated above, this applies towards the singing voice of all women, whether single or married, and even one’s own wife. However, the voice of her speech is not an Erva, even if she is married, and one may hence learn and Daven even while hearing her speaking voice.

The law:

Mother, and adult daughter, or adult sister: It is forbidden for a man to learn Torah or pray or say a blessing within sight of an adult relative who has part of her body [which must normally be covered due to Tznius] uncovered, including one’s mother, daughter, sister or wife.[11] Accordingly, some Poskim[12] rule that it is likewise forbidden to Daven or learn Torah while one’s mother, adult daughter or adult sister is singing, even if she is singing the words of Davening. A girl is considered an adult in this regard when any of the following three signs of adulthood are present, whether age [11 years old], puberty [hair], or maturity [shame].[13] From other Poskim[14], however, it can be understood that although it is forbidden for one to hear his sister sing especially while Davening or learning Torah, it is permitted for a man to Daven or learn Torah while his mother or daughter is singing.[15] Other Poskim[16], however, rule that it is permitted for a man to Daven or learn Torah while even his sister is singing.[17]  

Sister or daughter who is a child: Some Poskim[18] rule it is permitted to learn Torah and Daven in view of a daughter [granddaughter, sister[19]] which is not modestly covered, if the girl is below the age of adulthood, as defined above [i.e. below age 11 and has not reached puberty or maturity].[20] Accordingly, one may certainly Daven or learn Torah while his young daughter or sister is singing, if they are below the above age.[21] Other Poskim[22] however argue and rule it is forbidden to Daven and learn in view of the improperly clothed female relative just like any other girl.[23] Accordingly, some Poskim rule that once a daughter or sister have reached the age of three and above[24], and at the very least from age six and above[25], one may no longer Daven or learn Torah while they are singing.]

If one can ignore the singing and focus on his Davening or learning:[26] Even by the singing voice of a woman, if one is able to concentrate on his prayer to the point that he does not even consciously hear or pay attention to her voice, then it is permitted [to learn and Daven while hearing it]. [Thus, if one hears singing and is unable to stop them, he is to strengthen his concentration and ignore the singing in order so he is able to learn/Daven.[27] Likewise, if one is certain that the singing voice of his daughter, mother or sister will not distract him from his Davening at all, then he may Daven in their singing presence, and is not required to go elsewhere.[28]]

 

Summary:

It is debated amongst the Poskim as to whether there is a prohibition to Daven or learn Torah while hearing one’s mother, daughter, or sister singing. Practically, if one’s thoughts are disturbed by their singing voice then one is not to do so, especially if it is a sister above age 11. If, however, one can completely ignore their voice and concentrate on their Davening as if they are not present, then one may Daven while hearing their singing, especially if it is one’s mother, or sister or daughter below age 11.

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[1] Admur 75:6; Michaber O.C. 75:3; Yireim 392; Rabbeinu Yona Brachos 25b

[2] Nishmas Adam 4:1; Kaf Hachaim 75:27; However, see Michaber ibid; Perisha 21:2 on Tur E.H. 21 who rules that listening to the singing of an Erva is Biblically forbidden.

[3] Admur 75:6; Michaber O.C. 75:3 and E.H. 21:1; Shmuel in Brachos 24a “The voice of a woman is an Erva”

The reason: This is learned from a verse in Shir Hashirim that states “Ki Kolecha Areiv:Because your voice is pleasant.” [Brachos ibid] From here we learn that the voice of a woman is attractive and contains a lust. [Rashi ibid]

[4] Admur ibid; M”A 75:6; Beis Shmuel E.H. 21:6 [regarding prayer]; Bear Sheva, brought in Beir Heiytiv 21:4 [regarding anytime]; Beis Oved 17; Chesed Lealafim 75:6; Ben Ish Chaiy Bo 13; Kaf Hachaim 75:21

[5] Admur ibid; Rama 75:3; Ohel Moed 5:5; Hagahos Maimanis

[6] Pashut; Piskeiy Teshuvos 75 footnote 106

[7] Beis Oved; Ruach Chaim 75:2; Ben Ish Chaiy Bo 12-13; Kaf Hachaim 75:24

[8] Admur ibid “Forbidden”; Michaber O.C. ibid “Beware”; Beis Shmuel E.H. 21:4 “Forbidden”; Rabbeinu Yona ibid regarding Davening; Yireim 392 and Mordechai Brachos Remez 80 regarding learning.

[9] Nishmas Adam 4:1; Kaf Hachaim 75:27

[10] Forbidden or only Lechatchila should avoid? Some Poskim rule it is forbidden from the letter of the law. [Darkei Moshe 75:3] Other Poskim rule that it is merely initially to be avoided. [Michaber ibid; Beis Yosef 75 “Proper to be careful”; P”M 75 A”A 6 writes the Rama in 75:3 rules like the Michaber, unlike his ruling in Darkei Moshe; Kaf Hachaim 75:25] Admur ibid rules like the Darkei Moshe that it is forbidden. The practical ramification is in a case of Bedeived, that one Davened while hearing her voice, and whether one must repeat the prayer. [P”M 75 A”A 6]

[11] So is evident from all Poskim who discuss the law regarding children relatives, including: Biur Halacha 75:1 “Tefach” in name of Shulchan Shlomo; Chazon Ish 16:9; Neziros Shimshon; Or Letziyon 2:6; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:9; See Birur Halacha;

[12] Implication of M”B 75:17 “and so too all the Arayos”; Shevet Halevi 10:26 regarding sister and daughter; Chut Shani E.H. 3 p. 266 in name of Chazon Ish that a sister is always forbidden and a mother [or daughter] is forbidden during Davening; Avnei Yashpei 5:5 regarding sister and daughter; Minchas David 46; Taharas Am Yisrael p. 53 in name of Chazon Ish that it is forbidden to hear one’s sister sing; Halichos Bas Yisrael 6:1 p. 92 and footnote 16 that Gedolei Yisrael agree that it is initially forbidden to hear one’s sister sing; Ishei Yisrael p. 470-31 regarding sister and daughter 30-31; The following Poskim forbid regarding sister [unclear regarding daughter/mother]: Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:138; Lehoros Nasan 4:104; Beir Sarim 1:30; Rabbanim in Aliba Dehilchasa Volume 8 p. 2

[13] Background: There is general confusion in Poskim regarding the exact age of adulthood due to various opinions, and contradictory statements, as well as various versions of text: See Kiddushin 81b for two opinions in name of Rav Assi; See Rishonim [Rif; Rashi; Rosh] brought in Beis Yosef E.H. 21 “Keitzad” for different versions of the second opinion of Rav Assi; See Michaber 73:3-4 and Admur 73:3 who give one definition [i.e. age] regarding Shema; See Michaber E.H. 21:7 who gives a second definition [i.e. puberty and maturity] regarding co-sleeping without clothing; See Tur O.C. 73 and E.H. 21 who gives slightly different definitions between Shema and co-sleeping; See M”A 73:2 who questions the seeming contradiction in both the Michaber and Tur between the ruling in O.C. regarding Shema and the ruling in E.H. regarding co-sleeping; See also M”B 73:11; For possible answers of contradiction: See Perisha E.H. 21 [i.e. in O.C. refers to case that other people are in room, in E.H. refers to Yichud with child]; Elya Raba 73:5 [O.C. refers to father/son, mother/daughter; E.H. refers to Mother/son, father/daughter] See P”M 73 A”A 2; Machatzis Hashekel 73:2; Kaf Hachaim 73:11

[14] See Avnei Yashpei 5:5-18 that a sister is forbidden because it is forbidden to hug her [which would not apply to a mother or daughter]; See Aliba Dehilchasa Volume 8 p. 2

[15] The reason: As it is forbidden to hug ones sister, although is permitted to hug one’s mother or daughter

[16] See Taharas Am Yisrael p. 53; Rabbanim in Aliba Dehilchasa Volume 8 p. 2

[17] The reason: As from the letter of the law there is no Biblical prohibition to even hug and kiss one’s sister, and Yichud is permitted, and therefore there is no worry of Hirhur when they sing. Likewise, people don’t view the singing voice of a mother, sister or daughter in an erotic fashion and hence there is never a worry of Hirhur when they sing.

[18] Biur Halacha 75:1 “Tefach” in name of Shulchan Shlomo

[19] Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:9 in name of Birur Halacha

[20] The reason: As they compare the law of learning in front of a Erva [brought in chapter 75] to the law of sleeping together with family [Chapter 73], and just like relatives may sleep together and say Shema even unclothed until the age of adulthood, so too he may Daven and learn in view of her until the age of adulthood. [See also M”A 74:9 towards end who also suggests such a connection]

[21] Divrei Yatziv E.H. 36; Birur Halacha 75; Halichos Bas Yisrael 6 footnote 16; Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:11 and footnote 115 that Kol Isha it is more lenient than Tefach Megulah; Avnei Yashpei 5:5-8; Poskim in Aliba Dehilchasa Volume 8 p. 2

[22] Chazon Ish 16:9; Neziros Shimshon; Or Letziyon 2:6; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:9; See Birur Halacha

[23] The reason: As the allowance of 73:3 is only regarding learning and Davening while skin is touching and not regarding seeing the unclothed part. [ibid]

[24] See Q&A regarding the age of Tzenius, and Issur of learning/Davening for a Ketana and the same applies regarding Kol Isha. [See Halichos Shlomo 20:20 in name of Rav SZ”A]

[25] Some Poskim are even initially lenient to permit Kol Isha during Davening by all girls under age 6, and certainly this would apply by the above relatives. [See Ben Ish Chaiy Bo 1:13; Ishei Yisrael 55 footnote 99 in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky; Birur Halacha 75; Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:11

[26] Admur ibid; Olas Tamid 75:5; Rabbeinu Yona ibid; Kitzur SHU”A 5:16; Kaf Hachaim 75:26; See Beis Yosef 76; Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:11

[27] Kitzur SHU”A ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid

[28] Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:11; However, see M”B 75:17 who implies that even in such a case one is not initially to Daven in an area that he can hear them singing.

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