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Nov 22, 2010

Interesting Psak: Listening to Female Singers

Rav Avraham Yosef has paskened, on his radio show discussing halacha on Radio Kol Chai, that one is allowed to listen to female singers, and non-Jewish music.

The caveat is that you can only listen to such music when it is a recording and not being performed live. Going to a concert would be assur. He bases his psak on his father's (Rav Ovadia Yosef) rulings and said that going to a mixed concert, even one where they sing shirei kodesh is assur, but listening to their recorded music is fine.

Not only that, but he added that when his father wrote his teshuva on the matter allowing listening to such recorded music he was writing it for frum people and not for secular people.

In America such a psak is common and many people do listen to non-Jewish music, and female singers, with many variosu hetterim - either the fact that the singing is recorded and only live is a problem, or multiple voices singing at the same time, or other hetterim. In Israel, this psak is basically radical as the community in Israel is much mroe extreme.

I see a whole new market opening up - Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rhianna, Beyonce - no concerts, but they can all start selling their music now in Gal Paz!!!

11 comments:

  1. Not only that, but he added that when his father wrote his teshuva on the matter allowing listening to such recorded music he was writing it for frum people and not for secular people.

    Are there things which are assur for frum people but not for secular people? That's like saying a certain provision doesn't apply to tax evaders.

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  2. you can say that there is more room to rely on meikilim when writing for secular or traditional Jews, because if one would be too machmir they would not listen or would transgress, but for frum Jews one would be more machmir.
    so yes, I think so.

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  3. Didn't Rav Moshe hold that mixed-singing was only mutar in an NCSY or other "kiruv" setting, i.e., it was a Psak for secular people - not frum people.

    I don't have an igrot moshe handy to look it up, but that's how I remember understanding his opnion.

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  4. Rafi - Another important caveat which you missed is that it is only muttar to listen to such music if you don't understand the language in which it is being sung.

    Michael - This is not talking about a psak of Rav Moshe, but about one of Rav Yosef.

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  5. yoni - according to the article he sid that only about love songs, not songs (shirei agavim) in general. songs in general sung by women are ok as long as they are recorded.

    אסור להשתתף בהופעה מעורבת, גם אם הזמר שר שירי קודש, אולם לשמוע את שיריו שלא בהופעה חיה - מותר בהחלט

    Michael - I dont remember offhand the teshva either, but I know that many rabonim in the US, at least when I was growing up, held recorded music is not considered music in that sense - many held it could be listened to during sefira and 3 weeks, female singing, etc.

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  6. There was a psak by sriedei aish (R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg) permitting mixed shabbat table singing for youth groups in France (I believe before WWII). It was based in part on on the importance of the experience for these kids in maintaining their attachment to Judaism. That is the kind of ruling that I could see chareidim reading as a lenient ruling which should not be adopted broadly.

    However, I find the language about it being a ruling for religious people ridiculous.

    In the US there is a new revisionism regarding R. Moshe Feinstein's lenient rulings. These are are hard for charedim to deal with she he is broadly recognized as the greatest American 20th century posek. They try to claim his rulings were only heterim for the less observant.

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  7. IIRC, the Tzitz Eliezer also had a ruling allowing it.

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  8. When they sell it in Gal Paz they"ll have to put it in plain brown wrappers ;)

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  9. Does anyone have a mareh makom for RMF? the sreidei aish is the popular quote, never heard RMF being matir.
    Shirei Agavim is an important clause (and you may want to put it in the body of the post) it limits almost all modern secular music, which tends to focus on love and relationships.
    Furthermore, if you know what the woman looks like, even if she's not in front of you (and כל שכן video) I believe Rav Yosef would also assur.
    Doesn't leave much :)

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  10. 1- I don't think you'll find a source for R' M. Feinstein because it doesn't exist. people always like to say " I remember that R' Moshe etc." and they don't know what they're talking about.

    2- rav Ovadaya holds that once you have seen a picture of the lady then it's assur to listen to her music. This is based on the gemara that the yetzer hara only takes affect on what one sees. Therefore by posting a picture of some singer you have now ruined her music for the tzibbur. In fact, R' Ovadya used to listen to some famous lady who knows all the mekamim [I can't remember her name off hand] but after being shown her picture he stopped.

    3- Virtually all poskim disagree with the Seredei Aish's kula. In fact he only came to be melamed zchus on what he found in germany. rav valdenberg [of rabbanut fame] held he was wrong too. This is explicit. Check out the sefer "kedoshim tihyu" written by a DL Rav.

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  11. The singer that R. Yosef (père) was apparently quite fond of was Umm Kulthum, "widely regarded as the greatest female singer in Arab music history":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umm_Kulthum

    His having listened to her is apparently well-known; I'm told that it's in all his biographies. I have not heard, however, that he stopped upon seeing her picture - source?

    Regarding R. Yosef's stringent view for one who has seen the singer's picture - that was indeed his position at one point, but he later published a formal retraction (Yabia Omer Vol. 9 108:43). [I am indebted to Prof. Marc Shapiro for bringing this to my attention; it is apparently not as widely known as it should be.]

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