| Halachah |

Tune Up

With several different minhagim about when music is prohibited during Sefirah, I’m always confused what to do when people make weddings at a time when our family keeps Sefirah


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

I’ve always listened to a cappella music during Sefirah, but my chassan told me he feels it’s assur. What’s wrong with just singing?

There are different types of a cappella music. Some feature recordings of plain solo singing, and since there is no direct prohibition against singing during Sefirah, this type of music is permitted by some poskim. The other type of a cappella music features recordings of singing accompanied by man-made sound effects that are almost indistinguishable from the sounds made by musical instruments. This type of a cappella music is forbidden to be played during Sefirah according to all opinions.

My ten-year-old son recently started piano lessons, but my husband wants him to take a break for Sefirah and then again during the Three Weeks. I think this will disrupt his progress. Is it permissible for him to continue?

If you’re planning for your son to become a professional musician, which will be the source of his livelihood, then it would be permitted for him to continue his lessons during Sefirah and the Three Weeks until Rosh Chodesh Av. Likewise, if the purpose of the lessons is therapeutic, e.g., to ease or alleviate anxiety or depression, it may be continued. In most cases, however, when music lessons for children are merely for the sake of entertainment or talent development, it would be appropriate to take a break and resume those lessons after Sefirah and the Three Weeks are over.

I exercise daily for my health, but it’s extremely hard for me to do so without music. Is there a heter for me to listen to music during Sefirah while exercising? How about during the Three Weeks?

If, indeed, your exercise program is for health reasons, and without music you would not exercise, or would not exercise as well, then it’s permitted for you to exercise with music. After Rosh Chodesh Av this should be limited or curtailed.

With several different minhagim about when music is prohibited during Sefirah, I’m always confused what to do when people make weddings at a time when our family keeps Sefirah. Am I allowed to attend and dance?

The custom today follows the opinion of the poskim who hold that it is permitted to attend and dance at the wedding of a chassan and kallah whose families keep a different minhag of Sefirah restrictions.

I’m in the year of aveilus and I feel like I’m bombarded with music whenever I leave the house. If I’m at a friend’s house and there’s music playing, should I ask her to turn it off? What about in heimishe stores or at school events?

The preferred manner is to train yourself to tune out of listening to and enjoying the music, which will allow you to shop and attend events where the music is just playing in the background. If you’re visiting a friend who is playing music, it would be appropriate to mention to her that you’re in aveilus and restricted from listening to music.

I’ve always been makpid not to copy published songs, reasoning that the singer needs to profit from what he invested in production. But now in seminary, everyone copies from each other and no one thinks there’s anything wrong with it.

In most cases, it is absolutely forbidden for one person to copy Jewish music from another, unless you receive explicit permission from the singer or producer to do so. While the poskim debate if it’s considered actual theft, it’s clear that copying music — in which the singer or producer invested significant funds as a business venture — is a violation of hasagas gevul, financial trespassing, as one is gaining from another person’s business investment without due compensation. If, however, the specific song you wish to copy is freely and legally available online, it’s permitted for you to copy it from your friend, even if you have no access to the online copy.

I recently released a single in which I composed and sang my original lyrics. Can I post this on YouTube? Would I be responsible if a man listened to it?

You are not responsible if a man decides to transgress halachah and listen to music recorded by a woman that was intended for women.

Recently in shul, our rabbi spoke out very strongly against listening to any music composed by a non-Jew. What could be the problem with classical music or other such melodies?

“Jewish” or “non-Jewish” music is not necessarily defined by who the composer (or lyricist or arranger) is. Jewish music is music that inspires, refines, or uplifts a person, no matter its source, whereas non-Jewish music is music that degrades, corrupts, or debases a person, no matter its source.  


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 792)

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