≡ Menu

Halachic Debate: Is there kosher sefira music?

I am not a learned guy, sure I pasken for myself, can leaf through a mishna brura and try to talk in learning with any folks who may be interested, but I do not write halachic diatribes. However, I do have some interesting friends who I’ve always offered to post anything they may write if it was interesting and pertained to a bunch of semi-disenfranchised quasi frum folks who needed real halacha l’maisa and not the stuff that merely says assur because it’s untznius (that seems to be the new excuse for all rulings) Below is a halachic debate about the issue of music during sefira and whether or not the whole accapella thing is really acceptable or not.
Guest post by YH
The main point of the write-up was to clarify the whole music issue during Sefira and 3 -weeks, and to blow the lid on the silly notion that akapella is halachically ok. I’m totally cool with being not religious,  but what pisses me off is when people distort the religion. It’s just not intellectually honest and it’s downright wrong. So I felt compelled to write.
A)Shulchan Aruch, Siman 560 se’if 3- chapter that discusses the laws/customs of making year-round reminders of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash:
    R’ Yosef Kairo rules that “instruments and all types of song and all things that make instruments heard” are forbidden(1). Rama‘ there says that’s only for those that listen all the time like kings(2), or during a feast that’s not seudas mitzva (weddings etc. are mitzva)  So basically, Ashkenazim, who follow Rama‘, seem to be ok, at least occasionally, to listen to and play music, provided it’s not during a feast.  The apparent problem would be for Sefardim‘, and when music is played at non-mitzva banquets and stuff like that.
 B)Shulchan Aruch, Siman 551- chapter that discusses the laws of the 3 weeks- a mourning-over-the-Temple-period between Shiva-Asar-Bitamuz and Tisha-Be’avand Siman 493- chapter that addresses customs during period of Sefiras Ha’Omer:
    During these periods it is customary to do or not do certain things such as haircuts and weddings. The Magen Avraham in both chapters writes that he feels that “dances and circles/drums(mecholos)”(3) are also forbidden. 
 These are the basic sources you need to know.  So to be clear, section A delineates the source addressing year-round memorials of the Bais Hamikdash, and section B delineates the statements made specifically regarding 3 weeks/Sefira periods. 
 What would seem to come out based on section A above, is that Ashkenazim at least can always listen to music, including live shows, and including during the 3 weeks and Omer/Sefira periods. But based on section B above, during the latter 2 periods it would also seem, based on the Magen Avraham, that parties with music and/or dancing would not be proper.
 However, I was informed by a very big rabbi, who was told by an even bigger European rabbi (R Yaakov Kamenetzky), that the custom in Europe was for the Jews to accept upon themselves theyear-round stringency of R’ Yosef Kairo, cited above about not listening to or playing any music, butonly during these 2 periods  as they are already times when Jews keep a modicum of sadness/introspection. Hence, the custom of many to “not listen to music during Sefira and 3 weeks“.
  There are also those that base this no-music custom on the Magen Avraham’s statement about these 2 periods in which he is against “dances and drums”,  to include all kinds of music. Seeminglyone can question that as being a stretch..
  Where much of the confusion circulates is regarding “akapella”. Akapella is basically choir music wherein no instruments are used  and often the noises produced by instruments are replaced with mimicking vocals. Some Jews, although I question if any knowledgeable, rabbinic ones are among them, argue that since the whole restriction on music is on “instruments”, akapella is totally cool !!   Frankly, and as you may deduce based on the sources, this appears to be either imprecise understanding of the halacha or just plain ignorance.  If we are to be religious Jews, and follow the laws and customs as codified in Shulchan Aruch and similar sefarim etc., then how could this claim have any validity ??:
 1.In the source for no instruments, section A, the S.A. also says “kal minei zemer” (all types of song), so it would seem not to be limited to instruments and include plain vocals as well. So if you say music is assur during 3 weeks/Sefira then akapella is also !
 2.Even if it is only instruments(4), this restriction doesn’t seem to apply ever unless it’s during a feast  according to Ashkenazi/Rama tradition, as that law is regarding year-round practices and not related to Sefira/3 weeks. So all music should be mutar always, certainly not just akapella !
 3.Even if you say that the rule only applies to instruments, and we have accepted the Sefardi/R Yosef Kairo year-round restriction upon ourselves only during the 3-weeks/Sefira periods, how could you argue that listening to guitar is different than listening to digitalized, computerized voice that sounds exactly like a guitar ?!! Can you even think that when they made the rule about not hearing musical instruments they meant it super literal, leaving room for any mock instrument possible ??!
 4.You could argue that our contemporary music players are the equivalent of what once was only possible through instruments. So even playing a CD or iPod song of just voices is like playing an instrument.
 5.If you base this practice on the Magen Avraham’s statement which is only germane to 3 weeks/Sefira, then there is definitely nothing to stand on, because he says “dances and drums”, soif you extend this to music then all music is wrong, not just with instruments !!
 But, this halachic banter does leave room for 2 possibilities, the way I see it:
1. If you observe a no-music-listening policy during 3-weeks/Sefira based on section A, as keeping with R’ Yosef Kairo’s ruling but circumscribing it to these 2 periods of the year,  then one can arguethat listening to real choir music or even akapella, but just where they sing, would indeed be ok  since only instruments were forbidden. Such albums are actually made in the Jewish music market. BUT, the cool new Jewish akapella stuff- “special for Sefira and 3 weeks”, which is replete with contemporary digital effects that make it sound virtually like real instruments seems to be a totalhalachic scam. To be fair, the whole idea of no music is certainly among the lighter halachos, not to imply a disrespect or weakened observance of course. But in as much as these customs are observed, let them be observed !
2. One can argue that only live music is prohibited, as the sources from section A and B seem to imply that. The advent of music players does change the scene. This is an entire separate discussion and not directly relevant here. Bear in mind though that in as much as you observe a level of mourning for the 24,000 Torah students or for the Bais Hamikdash there are nary any reminders or practices to do to commemorate these periods save the few things we do have. Not listening to music could certainly be a strong reminder of the spirit of the time, and if you listen to “akapella” you might ask yourself What do you have left to keep the spirit of the law ?
  So, in conclusion, my not-so-humble opinion is that either you listen to music or you don’t. Both stances seem to have reliable halachic weight. But if you don’t, then it certainly does not seem that the popy, rocky, garage-band-software-touched-up “akapella” music that is so popular in our community is Kosher.
   But, of course- the obvious disclaimer, I ain’t no Rabbi and you should consult with one before acting. I’m just sharing some halachic knowledge with minimal, if no, subjectivity. (I hope)
 Sincerely, respectfully,
Find more halachic debates on 4torah.com
{ 106 comments… add one }
  • ksil April 17, 2013, 9:33 AM

    “informed by a very big rabbi, who was told by an even bigger European rabbi ”

    how much did they weigh?

  • ben April 17, 2013, 9:52 AM

    what is this, hirhurimsatire.com?

  • Shprinzy Spinklestein April 17, 2013, 10:20 AM

    Who cares? It’s just another dumb minhag about a completely irrelevant event whose lesson doesn’t even justify the OCD limiting laws it causes….

    • snoop April 17, 2013, 11:25 AM

      Not sure how, and by what gauge, you qualify “dumb minhag, completely irrelevant event, and OCD” in this context. ??? Similarly, by what standard do you feel a lesson “justifies” or doesn’t justify imposing limiting laws ???

      • Shprinzy Spinklestein April 17, 2013, 11:27 AM

        When it feels like a punishment for something I didn’t do or care about.

        • snoop April 17, 2013, 11:47 AM

          -I am saddened that it feels like a punishment to you. Perhaps in your case, the very people who instituted these minhagim or laws would not want you to get bent out of shape over them. They are there chiefly to serve as reminders of things that are really important and by extension, can add to and shape a meaningful life. But ideally they should be looked at as warm guidelines from concerned leaders, much like instructions to practice piano by a concerned teacher who only wants the best for his pupil. It might behoove you, if you have any concern about Judaism, the Jewish people, and the Jewish cause (which I would guess you do), to investigate why you feel negatively about these things .
          -Why, because you “didn’t do”something does it negate the validity of practices like this.?? If 100 people died in Kansas and your community asked you to hold a small memorial for them by not eating from 1-1:30 or something like that, would you be so vehemently opposed ? Do you not hold yourself somehow connected to your past and/or your predecessors ? Are you nothing more than a “here and now” generational product ? Do you not realize that you are, in large part, a sum total or generations past, as the following generations will be of you ?? Do you make rememberances of grandparents or do you want your grandchildren to remember you ? And if you didn’t, by chance, know your grandparents and they have no recognizable effect on your life would you completely disregard their memory and all the meaningful things they did in their life ?
          -If you don’t care about the destruction of the Temple or the death of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students, i completely understand. But again, you might want to ask yourself why not?? Am I missing something ? perhaps jewish tradition isn’t completely stupid and irrelevant ..?

          • Shprinzy Spinklestein April 17, 2013, 11:54 AM

            I don’t see why we need to punish ourselves by fasting, not listening to music or a whole laundry list of ridiculous OCD things just to be connected or whatever to something we did not do? Warm guidlines lead to punishments so unless you mean warm as in hell fire I consider them control mechanisms instead. But I appreciate the long reply

          • Shprinzy Spinklestein April 17, 2013, 11:56 AM

            Why do we need to be punished with fasts and bizzare limitations just to feel conected to something we did not do? Warm guidlines with punishments for non compliance are not warm they are control. Do or else is Judiasm and that sounds too man made for me.

            • Anonymous April 17, 2013, 3:27 PM

              Ok , so the first fundamental concept that I fear is lacking in your knowledge of Judaism is that there is a Divine point to the world and human existence- hence Judasim. Judaism is meant to guide a lost man in his sojourn through a mirky, undefined life and fill it with meaning which in turn garners true happiness in this world and the next.
              As far as “fasts and bizarre limitations” the main practical point is to concentrate on the lessons they teach so that they may be imbibed and hence lead to greater Jewish life fulfillment. Just like you can understand why it is important to focus on things that you probably deem valuable like being kind to others and teaching your kids about how important this is, or learning vocational skills -ie. studying for years in college so that the materials become absorbed etc. , so too Jewish themes and lessons should be focused upon and studied so that they can properly be understood and absorbed in a metaphysical way that permeates our lives.

              “Punishments” should only be looked at as a father chastising his son for running into the street with cars. It’s a way of him saying I love you so much I’m not gonna even let you do that. Needless to say things are much more complicated regarding the issues we’re discussing because we can’t really comprehend God and we have free will to do bad, but the concept is true; and it is unfortunately not stressed, or taught at all, in our educational institutions.
              So the word punishment, as with many loose translations of Hebrew words or concepts is imprecise or misleading.

              And again your frustration about being connected somehow to something we did not to screams for clarification:
              1.It’s about meditating on a lesson that we learn in part from the mistakes or achievements of our predecessors. It’s like learning from any good or bad thing in history. So it doesn’t matter if we did it or didn’t do it. And it’s not about connection for its own sake, it’s about connecting to the bigger picture of world history, particularly Jewish history, which plays a part in shaping our lives, as explained.

              I feel that if you had a deeper understanding of the point of Judaism in general and why it instructs to do the specific things it says to do you wouldn’t be so adverse to what you call “punishment” or “compliance” or “bizarre limitations”. It’s almost like a kid A who looks at his friend B who stays home all day practicing chess so he could be the world champion, and A says to B how could you “limit” and “restrict” yourself so? The answer is obviously that to kid B the reward of being a chess champion trumps playing outside with his friends. Again this isn’t a great metaphor because, arbitrarily, karate is no better than playing outside , and kids need to play outside a little to be normal etc.
              But the point is it seems like your questions are all saying, Why cruelly enforce stuff that is pointless ? The answer is that it’s not pointless..

              • Shprinzy Spinklestein April 18, 2013, 7:18 AM

                It’s pointless if you are wrong. You say we were created to do a job and be tested and then live forever in a magic land and time. You have no way to prove otherwise. We have not had any significant sign in 2000 years which just so happends to include modern recorded history where fairy tales are not believed like a sephardim believing a seggulah.

            • snoop April 17, 2013, 3:31 PM

              I wrote you a long response but this blog, as it loves doing, threw my essay into cyber-oblivion ! Pretty annoying to lose hard work.
              Anyhow, I can’t keep on trying to submit it here but I’d like to continue this anytime you want.
              My email is snoopshragydog@yahoo.com

              • snoop April 17, 2013, 5:16 PM

                does this work now ?

            • Critic April 17, 2013, 4:33 PM

              Fasting is a punishment? I would respectfully suggest that you do some research on the subject from the Jewish standpoint before making such an assertion.
              Bizarre limitations? By who’s definition? Would you call limitations placed upon us by mandated secular governmental law on a daily basis bizarre? Limitations on the way we behave and act is what differentiates humanity from other living creatures.Without limitations civilization as we know it would be non existent.
              Punishments for non compliance? Do you feel that one should not be held responsible or accountable for his/her actions? Do you believe that lawlessness both in the secular and religious domains should be the rule of the day?
              Can you please be more specific as to what punishments we incur for listening to music during the days of the Omer. I know of none

              • Thou SHALLLLT NOTTTT April 18, 2013, 4:55 AM

                All Jewish laws are bizzare to anyone but a Orthodox Jew’s opinion. So to likely 99% of the world stuff like not mixing meat and milk, shatnez, wigs etc. are freaking weird and restricting and why would a G-d care about such silly things? Its like the kids game don’t touch the ground or lava will get you, only as real as you pretend it is.

                • snoop April 18, 2013, 4:35 PM

                  You realize you’re foisting your value system, which is merely a product of your current society, on G-d .
                  You’re basically saying “oh this I get so it’s ok if G-d ordered it, but that I don’t get so G-d couldn’t have ordered that.”
                  It’s just not intellectually honest. The first issue to ascertain is if G-d said the stuff Jews say he did. If he did, then whether or not it makes sense, or is “silly” to your feeble/mortal mind, is rather inconsequential..

                  • Judah and his Prostitute April 18, 2013, 6:54 PM

                    You believe in all the animals of the world being on Noah’s ark? A talking donkey?? A talking snake who banged Eve and made Cain?

                    • Critic April 19, 2013, 12:01 AM

                      I always harbored a lingering doubt about a talking donkey but based on your comment I now definitely know that that at least one definitely exists.

            • snoop April 17, 2013, 5:18 PM

              Hi. I wrote a lengthy response but this blog, as it tends to do, trashed it and it’s somewhere in cyber-oblivion now.
              If you would like to continue this discussion, which I would be glad to,
              please email me snoopshragydog@yahoo.com

              • Shprinzy Spinklestein April 18, 2013, 7:19 AM

                Thank you 🙂

  • abishter's right hand man April 17, 2013, 11:13 AM

    The proper spelling is “a capella.” If you’re going to make an effort to write an article about a particular subject, the least you could do is research the correct spelling.

    • But My Rebbe Told Me So April 17, 2013, 11:17 AM

      He is Jewish give him a break. All he knows is how many lugim fill a magical mikva bacteria pool.

      • snoop April 17, 2013, 11:30 AM

        Oh so you’re one of those make-fun-of-something-that-on-the-perfunctory-surface-seems -silly-to-our-highly-evolved-Western-ideals-system people.
        Cool, that must make you sleep better at night.
        Oh and btw , if you phrase anything in a silly light it looks silly.

        • But My Rebbe Told Me So April 17, 2013, 11:31 AM

          Don’t make it not true…feeling insecure about your caveman rituals?

          • snoop April 17, 2013, 11:56 AM

            -Not at all. Feeling insecure about your uninformed attack against our rituals ??
            -And what am I making not true ? All I’m saying is that it’s just so easy to invalidate anything by giving a quick glance and feeling if it fits into your system of important things. If you would give Judaism at least the benefit of the doubt that there is much substance there, and recognize that it deserves a sophisticated understanding just like any study, you might feel somewhat prohibited before making sweeping statements about something which you are scarcely familiar with in a significant way.
            No criticism implied, just saying be fair..

            • But My Rebbe Told Me So April 17, 2013, 11:57 AM

              So how do you validate them? The burden of truth is on you to try and convince others to perform bizzare rituals.

              • snoop April 17, 2013, 3:38 PM

                Good point.
                I have a response and would love to submit it here but I just lost a whole response-essay I wrote to another commentator because when you click “submit” this blog loves to throw it out..
                So if you would like to here my thoughts, which i would love to share and discuss please email me : snoopshragydog@yahoo.com

              • Critic April 17, 2013, 4:35 PM

                Fasting is a punishment? I would respectfully suggest that you do some research on the subject from the Jewish standpoint before making such an “educated” assertion.
                “Bizarre limitations” by who’s definition? Would you call limitations placed upon us by mandated secular governmental law on a daily basis “bizarre”? Limitations on the way we behave and act is what differentiates humanity from other living creatures.Without limitations civilization as we know it would be non existent
                Punishments for non compliance? Do you feel that one should not be held responsible or accountable for his/her actions? Do you believe that lawlessness both in the secular and religious spheres should be the rule of the day?
                Can you please be more specific as to what punishments we incur for listening to music during the days of the Omer. I know of none.

                • G*3 April 18, 2013, 5:14 AM

                  > Would you call limitations placed upon us by mandated secular governmental law on a daily basis “bizarre”?

                  The limitations aren’t bizarre because they’re limitations. They’re bizarre because they’re weird to anyone who doesn’t already take them for granted. “Don’t steal” isn’t bizarre. “Don’t strike a match on the 7th day of the week” is.

                  Just like the Mormon limitation on drinking caffeine is bizarre. Just like the Muslim limitation on alcohol is bizarre…

    • Telz Angel April 17, 2013, 10:13 PM

      That’s right — A Capella
      the way it was done in the capella — the chapel.
      a capella means music in the church style, with no instruments, as many churches did not allow instruments.

      So you are telling me that during sfira we can listen to church music??

      • Anonymous April 18, 2013, 8:29 AM

        This means the Macabeats are assur – Baruch Hashem

      • snoop April 18, 2013, 4:06 PM

        If you hold you can listen to music during Sefira, why not ?
        (barring the issue of possible Avoda Zara music..)

  • G*3 April 17, 2013, 12:37 PM

    > the custom in Europe

    Where in Europe? “Europe” is not a shtetle in Poland.

    > Can you even think that when they made the rule about not hearing musical instruments they meant it super literal, leaving room for any mock instrument possible ??!

    Does author intent really matter in halacha? Most of the loopholes in halacha work by taking something very literally or narrowly and rely on technicalities that obviously aren’t in the spirit of the thing – do you sell your chometz on Pesach?

    > in as much as you observe a level of mourning for the 24,000 Torah students

    Sefirah dates to the Crusades, a good thousand years after R’ Akiva’s students died.

    • Critic April 18, 2013, 7:46 AM

      “Sefirah dates to the Crusades, a good thousand years after R’ Akiva’s students died” Not so poshut.
      According to the Talmud, 12,000 chavruta (pairs of Torah study partners), 24,000 in all, were killed (they were either killed by the Romans during the Bar Kokhba revolt 132–136 CE or they died in a “plague”) as a sign of Divine anger during the days of the Omer-counting for not honoring one another properly as befits Torah scholars.
      Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1908), author of Aruch HaShulchan, postulates that the mourning period also memorializes Jews who were murdered during the Crusades (the 11th, 12th and 13th century religious military campaigns), pogroms (19th and 20th-century attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire) and blood libels that occurred in Europe.

      • Yirmiyahu Dinklesteinawitz April 18, 2013, 7:51 AM

        Yea I’m going with the crusades option. Plague would mean something miraculous actually happened and the last 2000 years of recorded history shows that ain’t so…

        • Critic April 18, 2013, 8:12 AM

          You don’t have accept the plague option but still relate the Omer to the death of R’Akiva’s students.I did write “they were EITHER THEY WERE KILLED by the Romans during the Bar Kokhba revolt 132–136 CE or they died in a “plague”.

          • Yirmiyahu Dinklesteinawitz April 18, 2013, 8:13 AM

            Yea I can read thanks. I went to public school 😉

          • Observer April 18, 2013, 2:55 PM

            Are you implying that the Romans weren’t a plague?

            • Observe this April 18, 2013, 6:56 PM

              No, they just were an army that took Israel like the took a million other countries and moved on. Israel losing to them shows how we are just as vulnerable as everyone else. Look at our whole history.

              • Observer April 18, 2013, 7:20 PM

                I’m not a historian, but I seem to recall hearing once that it took Rome longer to defeat Israel than any other country. Of course, they still did defeat us. And might not have done that without help from nut cases inside the city.

                • Observe This April 19, 2013, 4:53 AM

                  They never were able to defeat Scotland. I guess that means they are the holiest? I’m sure all the defeated countries had their religious leaders making up justifications for their natural defeat to a larger more advanced enemy militarially.

                  • Observer April 19, 2013, 5:20 AM

                    Thanks for the info. As far as interpretations, I don’t think I was making any , so I’m not sure to what or to whom your question and comment are directed.

                    • You've been Observed April 19, 2013, 5:27 AM

                      Check mate

      • G*3 April 18, 2013, 8:53 AM

        It seems you’re right that it’s not poshut. The gemara doesn’t mention a mourning period in connection with the death of R’ Akiva’s students, and the first recorded mention of mourning during sefirah is from the 700s, about 600 years after R’ Akiva. On the other hand the first Crusade was declared by Urban II in 1095, 400 years too late to be the reason for mourning during sefirah.

    • snoop April 18, 2013, 4:26 PM

      1.Don’t know where in Europe but based on who said it, I would guess NorthEastern Europe/Lithuania, precluding Hungary/Romania and certainly the rest of Europe and Middle east.
      2. Yes I actually don’t sell my chametz in keeping with the spirit of the law. Also, to find a goy’ that will actually take the option of going into a Jew’s house and eating chametz seriously would seem to be hard. But regardless you make a good point which I did consider. The difference is that, I think, here the whole restriction is a very spirit-y, emotional sort. When it comes to di-oraisas’ like hashbasas chametz’, for ex., we don’t have to be frumer than the Torah which instructs not to own chametz, hence the allowance to sell. In other words, the Torah approves of it. But here Chazal’ made a gezeira’ of sorts against hearing instruments to keep frivolous simcha in check. Not saying that all include all frivolous simcha’ should be included but a voice that is reconstructed by computer to sound virtually like an instrument… c’mon ! Mind you, I submited that plain voices without being digitally touched up could easily be vindicated.
      3. As cited, the Shulchan Aruch also writes “kal minei zemer” .
      4. The sefarim’ all say that the ikar minhag’ stems from Rabbi Akiva’s talmidim’..

      • snoop April 18, 2013, 4:28 PM

        this was meant to go on G*3’s first comment

      • Alter Cocker April 18, 2013, 5:21 PM

        I don’t either sell chametz.

        It’s wrong.

        In today’s day and age, no one should be selling, especially because the sales aren’t even valid.

        • snoop April 18, 2013, 5:30 PM

          don’t know about the sales nowadays,..
          But when you say it’s “wrong”, are you prepared to take on the Chayei Adam and other big poskim’ ?

      • G*3 April 19, 2013, 8:06 AM

        > Yes I actually don’t sell my chametz in keeping with the spirit of the law.

        That’s interesting. So what do you do with, say, china, or wooden bowls, which can’t be kashered? Do you just not have any?

        It’s not just selling chometz, though. There’s lots of stuff. Pruzbul, eiruv on Shabbos, eiruv tavshilin, a siyum on taanis bechorim…

        You seem to be saying that it’s easier to circumvent a d’oraisa than a d’rabanan. I suppose that depends on what you hold about Daas Torah. If we can get around d’oraisas because God is exact in His wording, and we infer that any loophole we can find was put there intentionally, then the same would hold true of divinely-inspired gedolim. If rabbonim are “merely” smart people well versed in halacha who come up with rules they think are appropriate, then you’re right that we can’t assume that loopholes in their wording were put there on purpose.

        • Devin April 19, 2013, 8:14 AM

          Very interesting point.

        • snoop April 19, 2013, 8:45 AM

          to G*3,
          1. I am seriously afraid of writing anything lengthy,as much as I’d love to, because I might lose it, AGAIN! (cursed software) So I must keep it short
          2. China ? wooden bowls ? really ?! Bichlal’ not an issue ! You don’t have to be mashbis’ that stuff because it’s not rauy’ li-achila’ at all, nor is it even less than a kizais’! It’s juts taam’ and no mamashus’.
          3. Suspected you’d argue that. Basically no not saying we should treat rabbinic words less precise, just in this case and context if you learn thge sources well, I feel that when they said instruments they wouldn’t and didn’t preclude a voice that has morphed into a computer sound, just like you could probably understand that a computer sound alone that did not come from a human voice would also be considered an instrument.
          4. Good point about what you deem as “loopholes”. Not a stranger to the concept. Nor am I opposed to the classic ones that you listed. This requires a long answer though. Briefly, some reflect the Torah’s flexible ability to be accommodating to reality, all the while not losing sight of the austere nature of things, and some are closer to shtik’. .

  • Yoyo April 17, 2013, 3:15 PM

    Perhaps the more liberal use of paragraphs would be helpful in better understanding of the subject matter at hand?

  • Menachem April 17, 2013, 4:21 PM

    You can use some humility.

    Your whole Halachic dissertation has nothing to do with your very weak argument that Kli Zemer must refer to voices as well. That’s BS.

    • snoop April 17, 2013, 5:08 PM

      you might be right about the humility,
      but I think you misunderstood.

      1. Not sure if you’re referring to “klei shir” or “minei zemer”, but I’ll assume the former, which means instruments.
      2. Don’t know what you mean that the “whole dissertation has nothing to do with the argument…”. As with many dissertations there are many disparate points but they all coalesced in a conclusion at the end.
      3a. Don’t know why it’s a weak argument to argue that “klei shir” would include voices which, through technology, sound just like instruments… ???
      3b. I never said it “must”, i just argued that position strongly and in my conclusion I granted validity to the argument that it does not refer to voices, but my issue, as mentioned, is with voices that are reconstructed to sound like instruments to the point where you can’t tell the difference; something, btw, which cannot be accomplished in realtime.

      • Menachem April 17, 2013, 8:23 PM

        Cannot be accomplished in realtime? Why not? Most acapella can be done live, if not, then the electronic effect may go under the category of kli Shir, but that usually isn’t the case.

        • Smells Jewish April 18, 2013, 7:22 AM

          Convos like this just point out of absurd and pathetic Judiasm has become. Two teenage boys talking high about life is more moving than this crap.

          • Yoyo April 18, 2013, 7:42 AM

            Say it like it is. Just don’t shorten conversation to convo.

        • snoop April 18, 2013, 4:54 PM

          Yes Menachem ! that’s exactly my point ! What’s the difference between an actual instrument or a computer ?! yea, the computer sound started with a voice , but that’s about it ! The rest is all tweeked and reconstructed .

          Now, truth be told, I’m not sure either way but it is likely, come to think of it, that this can actually be done in realtime – IF you’re hooked up to a ton of telemetry ,and big fancy mixers , and of course a track looper, which of course would also mean that you’d have to sing a few rounds before you get the final product. BUT, even so, the arguments remains that it’s not your voice ! It’s something else. Don’t know how to classify it exactly but something else.

          And for the record again I could easily agree that any music consisting of pure unadulterated voices , even if some are making instrument sounds, would indeed be ok, in our context..

        • snoop April 18, 2013, 5:01 PM

          Just wrote a long response and, upon clicking submit, lost it. AGAIN!
          Can’t keep at this game, but basically
          That’s exactly my point ! Whats difference between instruments and a computer sound that happens to come from a real voice ?!
          And even if ti could be done in realtime, with a ton of wires , and mixer boards, and loopers, still !! How could you consider that a voice?!

          For the record , I can easily agree that plain, unadulterated voices , even if they make instrument sounds would be cool, in our context, but the digitalized stuff is what I don’t agree with..

    • Bla bla bla April 18, 2013, 8:16 AM

      I love how divisive Judiasm is. The point of religion is to bring sheep together. But Judiasm drives people apart because we have 1000 opinions and minhagim due to the fact that WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE DOING! Its more like the religion ARGUISM

  • R.W. April 17, 2013, 4:57 PM

    Considering the depressing quality of most jewish a capella music, it should not only be permissible during Sefirah, but actually mandated on Tisha Be’av just to put people in the proper frame of mind.

    • Yoyo April 18, 2013, 7:44 AM

      I consider several of the regular Yom Kippur chazanim at shul to be extra tribulations and walk out when they daven. Also a good reason to check your phone during Eichah (five prohibitions is enough, we don’t need more).

  • Backing Up Snoop April 18, 2013, 9:07 AM

    I’ve gotta back up Snoop over here. He started off the entire essay by saying that he believes that it is “intellectually dishonest” to claim a capella is permitted during the Sefira period. He then proceeded to provide a (generally) objective approach to the issue, to provide you with a basic understanding of the issues involved so that you can make an intellectually honest decision.

    However, not a single one of you have addressed the merits of his arguments. You have all imported your wildly flailing emotions, antagonisms, and bad experiences into what is supposed to be a logic and merit based argument. If I was Snoop, I wouldn’t have even bothered to respond to to the silly comments and persistent derogation of Halacha and minhag. I don’t know who he is but recognize that you are dealing with a very real person who is willing to argue on two fronts at the same time.

    As Heshy wrote above, if you want to be religious, that’s fine. If you don’t want to be religious, that’s also fine. But be honest with yourself. Rather than saying “God doesn’t want me to wear tzitzit/hair coverings” or “Judaism punishes me,” face the fact that religion is not a priority in your life right now. And that’s perfectly okay. Just please stop whining and trying to justify your decisions. Were all tired of hearing it.

    • Backing up Reality April 18, 2013, 9:14 AM

      Can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen caveman.

    • Devin April 18, 2013, 9:27 AM

      You know this is a satire website right? Go to OU.org if you want to talk like an old miserable man.

      • Anonymous April 18, 2013, 9:42 AM

        Of course this is a satire website. But recognize the difference between satire and angry-at-my-rebbe-so-im-going-to-listen-to-real-music-during-sefira religious angst. Just as you’re saying the OU.org is the place for “miserable old men” to write, a satire site is not the place this obnoxious whining, ESPECIALLY in the rare post that clearly states that it’s trying to be objective.

      • Still backing up Snoop April 18, 2013, 9:42 AM

        Of course this is a satire website. But recognize the difference between satire and angry-at-my-rebbe-so-im-going-to-listen-to-real-music-during-sefira religious angst. Just as you’re saying the OU.org is the place for “miserable old men” to write, a satire site is not the place this obnoxious whining, ESPECIALLY in the rare post that clearly states that it’s trying to be objective.

    • Fun is not Koysha April 18, 2013, 1:38 PM

      “Intellectually honest” and Judiasm are complete opposites. Shouldn’t you be doing some rote dovening right now or looking down on non-Jews?

  • Love you but if you don't do it I'll kill you April 18, 2013, 9:26 AM

    When I think of these silly neurotic minhagim and chomras I can’t help wishing rabbinic royal decrees were optional, like merely advice but not do or burn in hell. I feel I’d be a lot less nervous when I think of spirituality.

    • Anonymous April 18, 2013, 4:46 PM

      1. it’s only neurotic when all the angkes get fleshed out, just like almost any topic. Scientists can argue hair-splitting topics too, just an ignoramus or outsider wouldn’t appreciate it. But it’s not fair to hate, just say I’m not really into this topic, or don’t appreciate all the intricacies..
      2.These type of minhagim, as mentioned in the article, are certainly on the lighter side of Jewish laws, and are indeed, arguably, optional. Hope that makes you feel better about Judaism/spirituality. Seriously. And likely no hell involved too.

      • 613 April 18, 2013, 6:58 PM

        But rabbi rabbi in the name of rav beard face said it is forbidden???

        • snoop April 19, 2013, 8:15 AM

          Not sure who exactly you’re referring to, but I do enjoy the humor.
          So it’s like this- There are lots and lots of practices in Judaism, as I’m sure you know. The thing is though, there are similarly lots of levels of importance; among these practices there are laws, rules, customs, rituals, stringencies, extra credits, mandates, encouraged practices, individualized laws, commandments, Biblical origin, Rabbinic origin, topics of dispute, etc. . And the list probably goes on. You’ll find similar demarcations in almost any body of laws- In the contemporary Judicial system there are misdemeanors, capital offenses, small violations, and small claims. In a classroom there are rules, obligations, class responsibilities, extra credit, etc. You get my point.
          So basically all or most of jewish practice was codified in a book which, out of user-friendly necessity did not have room to classify each according to its level of importance. The problem is unfortunately that since most Jews are ignorant they don’t know the difference between a minhag and a di-oraisa, for example. That’s why you have to find a competent, knowledgeable rabbi who really knows Jewish law from its sources who can discern the level of importance of each practice, and perhaps more importantly make an individual ruling for you about what to do or what to go easy on etc.
          So when someone says “forbidden” it could be very misleading. It could even technically be forbidden but it heavily depends on how forbidden and to what level.
          let’s just say not listening to music during Sefira is not even close to the level of not keeping shabas , just like wearing a yamika’ is not even close to the level of hearing shofar on rosh hashana. Both might be “forbidden” or “obligatory” but there are levels. get it ?
          hope this helps…

        • snoop April 19, 2013, 8:22 AM

          to 613,
          I just a wrote a long response to you, and this blog, yet again, threw it out.

          The gist of what i said was that there are many many levels of importance in jewish practice and the word”forbidden” can be quite misleading. You need to ask a competent, knowledgeable rabbi who knows the sources well.
          Things are not as forbidden as you might think, especially if it drives you emotionally nuts..

          • 613 April 19, 2013, 8:31 AM

            Thanks. Prob. is every rabbi tells your something different and you are not supposed to shop around for the answer you want. It’s so frustrating. I know you need to find the right one, but there is never a perfect one in my experience. Plus its so intellectually frustrating knowing that some say yes others no; I mean how bindging can things be spiritually if that’s the case??

  • snoop April 19, 2013, 8:52 AM

    good question. i sometimes struggle with that myself.
    But the main things, as in the things of high importance, are almost always quite clear and undisputed.
    If it helps, I happen to be somewhat learned, and I could attempt at giving you a fair Rabbinic answer . What would you like to know .?

Leave a Comment