Ask the Rabbi

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Sfirat Ha'omer Customs

Music during the quarantine


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 30, 5780
Can a family listen to uplifting music during the quarantine of corona?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. First, let me send my blessings for complete health for all, and a speedy end to the virus in the world. The custom not to listen to music during the days of the counting of the Omer has sources going back hundreds of year, but it is not mentioned in the Talmud, nor even in the Shulchan Aruch. As such, we can approach your question with more space to rule leniently. There is not a complete consensus among the Rabbis as to the clear limits of this custom. When it come to recorded music - some forbid only live music, allowing all recorded music. Some forbid any recorded music at all, even purely vocal recordings. Some allow only recorded vocal music without instruments. Others allow recorded instrumental music on the condition that it is not dance music, but more gentle slow music. Others allow recorded religious music that helps one serve Hashem. In short – even before we discuss the question of listening this year in quarantine, the custom itself is not so clear. However, even those who in years past took a strict practice, and refrained from listening to music (according to whichever ruling) may be more lenient under the present situation. This is because when a person is confined to their house in many cases this can lead to depression and other physiological troubles. The custom of not listening to music was only to avoid excessive joy. With this in mind, listening to recorded music this year will probably not lead to excessive joy – rather just help a person not fall into painful sorrow. So, in answer to your question – yes, this year in the lock-down situation we find ourselves, someone who feels that listening to music will help them get through the troubles, may (and should) listen. (I have also seen in the name of many great Rabbis who ruled like this). Blessings.
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