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.