Hi there, I am currently in the process of learning 2 languages, Arabic and Yiddish. The way I learn languages best is by listening to music in that language; am I permitted to do so during the Omer, as it is not music for the sake of itself? Secondly, can I listen to sad/slow Jewish songs during the Omer?
ב"ה Shalom Before answering your specific question, I think it is important we remind ourselves of the reasons why the time of Sefirat Ha'omer is a period of mourning and why the laws of mourning apply. The students of R' Akiva, probably the leading scholar of his time were disrespectful to one another ( Yevamot 62 b) or phrased differently in the Midrash they were envious of each other, (Bereshit Rabbah 61:3) and yet phrased differently again in another Midrash, that they were envious of each other's Torah (in the wrong way) (Kohelet Rabbah 11:5) .Due to this behavior, his many students perished in a plague and we were thrust into a period of mourning which is expressed by the different customs of mourning ,among them not listening to music. As far as listening to music in order to learn a language, I assume you mean listening to songs in the languages you are studying. I believe we can infer the answer to your question, form the fact that there are poskim who hold that one who studies music may continue to do so during the omer, since the study of music is not for pleasure but for study. This would especially be the case, if your studies are the sake of your livelihood. (אגרות משה או"ח ח"ד סי' כא, ציץ אליעזר טז: יט) In regard to listening to sad or slow music, there are many different opinions on this issue. It should be said, that since in the original sources of the custom the boundaries were not clearly set, some say that music is forbidden in any form. While others say, that it is actually dancing and celebrating which is forbidden or music which will induce dancing. However, there are several important poskim who addressed your specific question. It is said in the name or Rav Shlomo Zalman oirbach zt"l , that songs arousing religious emotions (שירי רגש) or even Chazzanut or classical music may be heard. However, this is all with limitation, and allowing such musicin a case when it dissipates a bad mood, there is more room for leniency. (הליכות שלמה, דיני ספירת העומר סעיפים יד-ט"ו עמד שס-שסא) Rav Eliyahu Shlezinger shlit"a, the Rav of Gilo, Yerushalayim specifically allowed this kind of music. (אלה הם מועדי ח"ג סי' סג) and he said that after he made his opinion publicly known other Rabbis expressed their agreement. All the best