Women in Song

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Dear Rabbi Simon

I am aware of the prohibition of a woman (or adolescent girl?) singing in the presence of men. [Ed. note: Although technically the prohibition relates to the man who is listening/enjoying the woman’s singing voice, she may be regarded as facilitating the transgression.] My question is, does this prohibition apply also to a woman singing in the presence of close family members such as a brother?



Dear Shira

TY for your quite practical Q. The Talmud considers a woman’s (singing) voice as capable of arousing erotic interest on the part of a (male) listener. While taken at face value, this is a very restrictive prohibition, there are a number of leniencies upon which some rely, according to the circumstances. (I should note that there are many who are meticulous in mitzvah observance and do not rely on any of these. Such an approach may be regarded as exemplary.)

  • Two (or more) women singing together.
    • A girl up to age 11
    • Zemirot Shabbat or other examples of Jewish spiritually charged music
    • In the presence of close family members, including brothers.
    • In the presence of her father or son, there are stronger grounds for leniency.
    • A woman is definitely allowed to sing in the presence of her husband (providing that she is not nidah at the particular time, in which case singing must be avoided, even at the Shabbos table).
    • Pre-recorded music (eg CD, downloads, streaming)
    • Radio (even if live)
    • On screen or monitor
    • Some want to rely on the use of a microphone/electronic amplifier, even for a live performance, although this is a doubtful leniency

Best wishes

Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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