Singing With Her Brothers at the Table?

Deena Englard via

Ask the Rov: May a girl sing with her brothers at the Shabbos table?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

It is forbidden — according to some, min haTorah — for a man to hear the voice of a woman who is an ervah singing.1 In today’s society, any girl over the age of twelve falls in this category.2 The prohibition applies even if multiple women are singing together.3

Besides the prohibition of ervah, there is also concern that it will lead to hirhur (erotic thoughts), an issur d’oraisa.4 There are differences of opinion from which age this begins: some permit until approximately 11 in case of great need,5 others set it at age 6-7,6 while others avoid it from the age of three (like tznius).7

The Rebbe instructed that girls shouldn’t sing at children’s rallies, following the more stringent view.8 During kos shel bracha on Motzoei Simchas Torah 5747, when Chazzan Tzvi Hirsh Tzatzkis began singing a Russian niggun and his seven-year-old daughter joined him, the Rebbe asked to gently remind them that girls should only clap along, and the Rebbe then clapped with the girl.9

What about hearing family members sing?

While it is forbidden while davening,10 at other times, a man may hear his daughter or mother (just as there is no issue of contact). The consensus of poskim is that a brother may hear a sister sing, provided that it doesn’t lead to hirhur.11 While some are machmir while reciting any devorim shebikdusha (which would include singing zemiros like Eishes Chayil), the common custom is to allow sisters to join their brothers for zemiros at the Shabbos table (if there are no other men present).12

While some have argued that listening to a recording of an unknown woman is permitted if it doesn’t cause hirhur, the consensus of poskim is not so,13 and it certainly is not a preferred conduct.14

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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