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Listening to music

Category: // By Rabbi: הרב עופר עוזרי // Answer date: 10.01.2021

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Question:

I love listening to music. I never gave it a second thought but my friend told me that that I am not allowed to because he heard in a shiur that we are not allowed to listen to music to show Aveilut for the Churban Bet HaMikdash. If that is true why are there Jewish singers?

Answer:

You’re allowed to listen to music but with a few guidelines. The prohibition was said about live music. Many Poskim extend the prohibit to taped music as well but it is more lenient. If a person needs music to uplift his spirits it is OK. If a person listens to music to help him focus and concentrate on whatever he is doing is it fine. If the music will bring him closer to Hashem it is fine. If a person listens to music morning and night there might be a good idea to cut it down.
The Mishna in Sotah Daf 28 says: From the time when the Sanhedrin ceased song was also nullified from the places of feasts, i.e., it was no longer permitted to sing at a feast where wine was served, as it is stated: “With song they shall not drink wine” (Isaiah 24:9). This the basis for us not listen to music in these days because of the decree of the Sanhedrin. The decree was not to have live (there was no recorded music then) music by regular meals and such. This does not include Simchas, weddings or Bar mitzvahs etc. a Simchas Bet Hashoeva etc. where music is permitted. The point being we shouldn’t’ have parties with lively music to show that the fact we are missing the Bet HaMikdash affects us.
So if the music serves a purpose it permitted to listen to it.
So rules the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 560:3 :Similarly they decreed not to play [music] with instruments, and musical devices, and all things that make music to rejoice with them. (Rema-There are those who say, [the prohibition is] specifically for those whom they regularly play them, like for kings who stand and rest to instruments or in the house of a feast. (Tur)) It is forbidden to make them heard because of the destruction, and even song by mouth over wine is forbidden, as it says: “In song one may not drink wine” (Isiah 24:9). And all of Yisrael is already accustomed to saying words of praise or songs of thanks and remembering the kindness of Hashem over wine. (Rema-Similarly for the need of a Mitzvah, like for a wedding of Chatan and Kallah, all this is permitted. (Tosfot, Smag, and Hagehot Maymoni))
The Mishna Berura quotes the Gemara :Rav Huna said: The song of those who pull ships and lead the herd is permitted, for their singing assists them to establish a rhythm in their work. However the songs of the weavers are not permitted because their song are just jokes and levity.
This is all by live music however nowadays we have a recorded music we can be more lenient. R’ Moshe Feinstein understood that there is no difference and hey have the same halacha as regular music but there are other Poskim (R Ovadia Yosef) who are of the opinion that they are not the same and there is room to be more lenient.
So it seems that the songs which are forbidden are happy light songs, but if a person needs to listen to them for example someone who is driving car and it helps him focus etc. it is permitted. If a person on is feeling down and needs to uplift himself it is also permitted. Sad songs and uplifting songs if they praise Hashem etc. or that have a message are permitted.
The Mishna Berura quotes the Pri Megadim explaining the Ram that those who have music playing the whole day eating etc. that is no permitted. So it is a good idea to limit yourself and not listen 24/6 Shulchan Aruch a little bit of mourning the Bet HaMikdash.

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