Tuesday, December 16, 2008

from what age is kol isha assur?

My youngest daughter (age 7) has a chumash play in school this year and parents, including fathers, are invited. Since this play includes singing (as each of my older daughters passed through the same grade I saw the same performance) my wife asked me at what age the issur of kol isha kicks in. As much as I appreciated her trying to think of an excuse to spare me from attending, it seems that according to most poskim the singing voice of a penuya tehorah is permitted. R' Moshe in Igros Moshe (O.C. #26) advises that m'ikar hadin until age 11 there is no problem of kol isha. However, R' Moshe cautions that though this is the letter of the law, where possible, one should strive to be machmir. Given R' Moshe's caution I was wondering how widespread it is to have performances like this where fathers may attend. Looking at another case by comparison, R' Moshe is lenient and holds that m'ikar hadin there is no problem with drinking non-chalav yisrael milk, but advises schools to be machmir; to the best of my knowledge, they are. My guess is that in America it is more prevalant even in schools that try to position themselves to the right, while in Israel a chareidi Beis Ya'akov would probably ban such performances completely (the Sheveit haLevi in vol 5 takes a very hard line on kol isha and prohibits singing zmiros together, hearing a radio broadcast, and advises that even all girl schools should perform singing softly lest male neighbors hear). I would be interested in hearing your feedback. More often than not, especially in education of girls, it seems that sociology is the baseline that dictates what is done.

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:32 PM

    while in Israel a chareidi Beis Ya'akov would probably ban such performances completely

    I think they do have them but for mothers only, of course.

    More often than not, especially in education of girls, it seems that sociology is the baseline that dictates what is done

    I wouldn't call it sociology per se, but rather the general climate dictates what one can/ can not be machmir on in general.To give a chinuch related example.I know a Menhal who was criticized by Rav Schach for not giving the children (boys) enough time to play.When the Menehal said but the Rambam and Shulcon Aruch say 'Yilmad Imohem Kol H'yom U'Miktzas H'Layla'
    Rav Shach answered the same way you must understand it that Rambam as excluding time to eat, it also excludes times to play.I doubht recess was a neccesity 500 years ago like it is today.Similarly R' Y' Kamanetsky explains at lentgh (in begining of Emes L'Yaakov :Shas IIRC) about how the manner of Chinuch changes over generations.

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  2. Anonymous5:30 AM

    do mothers go to boys school events in the circles where fathers dont go to girls school events?
    I don't know that their not going really relates to what they think about when kol isha starts.

    "(the Sheveit haLevi in vol 5 takes a very hard line on kol isha and prohibits singing zmiros together, hearing a radio broadcast, and advises that even all girl schools should perform singing softly lest male neighbors hear)."

    what does this have to do with when kol isha starts, or is the bit about girls schools referring to young girls? I know ppl who are machmir on all of the above, yet allow their girls to sing when men are around till age 11 or so

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  3. I think that with all the conflict we have in the Jewish community nowadays over chumrah and other assorted right-moving phenomena, it is best for schools to be meikil and save their battles for more crucial issues.

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  4. >>>do mothers go to boys school events in the circles where fathers dont go to girls school events?

    Don't know, but boys schools don't really put on too many of these type things.


    >>>what does this have to do with when kol isha starts,

    My suggestion is that given the Sheveit haLevi's general approach, one would expect a climate of greater chumra. Contrast his teshuvah with that of the Seridei Eish.

    >>>it is best for schools to be meikil and save their battles for more crucial issues.

    R' Moshe made the same point. The questioner had written asking to know the ikar hadin to avoid a conflict over chumra with an unsupportive parent body.

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  5. timely topic - daf yomi kiddushin 70a last line: kol b'isha ervah

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  6. Anonymous2:38 AM

    "My suggestion is that given the Sheveit haLevi's general approach, one would expect a climate of greater chumra. Contrast his teshuvah with that of the Seridei Eish."

    I'm unclear about that, because there definitely are people who are machmir like the Shevet halevi who are not makpid on girls under 11 or so. (maybe machmir like the Shevet halevi with the exception of not being inclined to gie warnings not to sing indoors lest men on the street hear, but i think that is generally a sensibility about tznius rather than about kol isha pre se)
    In my home, we were makpid on radio and tapes and zmiros, but girls sang till age 11 or so (or whenever they decided they didn't want to, sometimes a little earlier). In fact I assumed most yeshivishe didn't listen to kol isha on radio and tapes until I discovered that many do. I never saw women sing zemiros in front of unrelated men outside of MO circles. So I don't think the chumras of the Shevet Halevi are particularly suprising, as you seem to find them.
    Or am i misunderstanding and he is saying not to listen to a woman's voice on broadcast even if she is not singing (??)

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  7. Anonymous2:55 AM

    see also this summary:

    http://koltorah.org/ravj/The%20Parameters%20of%20Kol%20Isha.htm

    It seems to me there are actual shailos with the other parameters of kol isha, but less of a question that it doesn't apply at a young age. Do you know of anyone who assers kol isha of a young girl as a matter of din? When you write most poskim are matir, do you know of someone who assers?

    Also what is the difference if any between kol isha and other ervas there, like shok, that poskim do seem to give younger ages for than 11?

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  8. >>>When you write most poskim are matir, do you know of someone who assers?

    The Be'er Sheva.

    >>>Also what is the difference if any between kol isha and other ervas there, like shok, that poskim do seem to give younger ages for than 11?

    I believe the Be'er Sheva agrees with your argument. But everyone else is not willing to lump things together in that way.

    >>>So I don't think the chumras of the Shevet Halevi are particularly suprising, as you seem to find them.

    I should have used singing zmiros as a better example. IIRC the Seridei Ish's teshuvah is addressed to the German community where the kulos he justifies were already de facto being exercised. It is to some degree like the MO community where de facto, whatever the justification, there are leniencies being followed. The S.hL. is writing to a different community where prohibiting even mixed singing of zmiros would not be surprising to anyone. Let me ask you this: do you think the Seridei Ish would have written the same tshuvah had he been addressing the Hungarian community instead of the German community?

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  9. Anonymous11:55 PM

    "I believe the Be'er Sheva agrees with your argument. But everyone else is not willing to lump things together in that way."

    what is the rationale for the distinction?

    re the sridei eysh:

    I am confused by your response. You DID use zemiros as an example in the post. Of course the SE was justifying the minhag he saw in germany.

    My point was different. There are obviously people who are makpid on a lot of areas of kol isha, but not makpid on the issue of younger age. It is not necessarily meikeil on everything, vs makpid on everything, but people can be makpid on one thing but not another! I was pointing out that there are people, i suspect many, who are makpid on what the Shevet Halevi suggests, even though they are also not makpid on kol isha at a young age, and that this combination of makpid like shevet halevei but not makpid on singing of young girls is not surprising.

    So I would not take for granted that charedi schools are paskening or worried about the issue of age when they don't invite men. For example, I believe Rav Hutner was not makpid on taped music, and is reputed to have listened to opera. Regardless of opera, I know many chaim berliners follow R Hutner's psak and DO listen to taped music that is kol isha (also probably listen to taped music during sefira). Does it follow that BYA which is the girls school w/ Chaim Berlin associations invites fathers to the school play put on by younger girl's classes? I'm betting that BYA does not invite the fathers (could be wrong) and it might have nothing to do with kol isha.
    I'm unclear whether the practice of not inviting fathers (which I think was common decades ago too) has direct relationship to kol isha (i.e including in places where most people are makpid on taped music too). It seems to me that being makpid at a young age is low down on the list of chumras regarding kol isha that ppl take on (i could be wrong) Of course, kol isha may be the reason too, or one reason among others that they don't invite them. I am just questioning that - hope you found me clearer this time.

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  10. Anonymous12:03 AM

    and I guess it is also possible to be meikil on taped music, and makpid on age of girl for live music, but I do hear that would be surprising.

    I'm just saying this:

    "The S.hL. is writing to a different community where prohibiting even mixed singing of zmiros would not be surprising to anyone."

    is true of US charedim - they don't typically permit mixed singing of zemiros - and yet I don't know how many are makpid on young girls singing at all. I am thinking to start asking people what they are makpid on to get a sense of whether it really correlates in the US with whether they listen to taped music or other kulas like zemiros. OK, by now I must have been clear.
    zei gezunt.

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  11. Anonymous12:07 AM

    and thanks for the reference to the beer sheva

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  12. Of course you have to distinguish among ervos; otherwise, besulos would have to cover their hair, too. So Hair, mekomos hamechusos/shok, and kol, each have their own halachos. And as always, common sense is important too; when I was a chasan, we visited Reb Moshe for shalosh seudos, and I asked whether I could be someich on those that allow kol isha for zemiros. He said, approximately, that even if he held you could be someich on that shittah, which he didn't, he wouldn't be mattir for a chassan to hear his kallah sing zemiros. Trust me-- there are young yeshiva bochurim for whom ten year old girls are starting to look attractive.

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