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Thursday
May092019

Sefirah FAQ’s

In connection with the days of Sefiras Haomer, when we practice aveilus (mourning) for the passing of Rabbi Akiva’s students, we present a collection of frequently asked halachic questions on this matter from AskTheRav.com

By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara D’asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din

Music:

Is listening to Chabad Nigunim allowed during Sefira (with musical instruments)? Does it make a difference if it is just the melody of the Nigun as opposed to with chords, or other types of harmony? Are we more strict with this during the 3 weeks?

Generally, the Poskim do not permit listening to recorded music during Sefirah. This is because a recording is considered to be like an actual instrument.

However, in certain circumstances, it would be permitted. For example, if the music was necessary for one’s livelihood.

While some authorities do permit music which does not induce feelings of Simcha, this would not apply in the case of Nigunim, as many would indeed produce such feelings.

There is room to be lenient if the Nigunim are slow, being sung by a “Baal Me’nagen,” and the music is in the background but totally insignificant.

In general, we are more strict regarding listening to music during the three weeks over Sefiras Haomer.

How strict is it not to listen to music during Sefirah? I listen to music a lot; it helps me relax etc. So during Sefirah, it is quite difficult for me especially when most a kapellahs are auto-tuned so I can’t listen to that. I’m wondering if perhaps I can listen to music or if specific music is OK. I’m prepared to, so to say, “sacrifice,” but if during Sefirah it is more lenient then I would appreciate if I can listen to music. Thanks!

We do not listen to music (from instruments even if recorded) during the Sefirah days. 

However music which is not intended to make one happy and/or dance is not forbidden in certain situations (like depression, or heavy fatigue) one may listen to that type of music. However initially one should try their best to avoid even this type of music in all situations.

I suggest listening to tapes of Chassidim singing slow Chabad niggunim. The occasional music which is secondary and background isn’t an issue.

Minchas Yitzchak (1:111) explains that music is forbidden during the Sefirah days as is the custom (although not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch). See also Igros Moshe Orach Chayim 1:166.

Is there a difference in listening to music in Sefirah if it is with instruments or not?

The minhag is to not listen to music (recorded or live) during Sefriah days. Some are lenient to listen to music which is only sung by the mouth (without instruments). However, many contemporary poskim say this is the same as music. Certainly, some of these recordings sound very professional and that is the purpose of the custom. 

Reasoning: Although the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 493) and Shulchan Aruch Admur Hazaken only mention not to dance during the Sefirah days and does not mention anything about music, the Alter Rebbe does mention simchos yeseiros, and many poskim clearly mention music. 

Is it ok for children to listen to music during Sefirah?

No, unless they are below the age of chinuch. Still, it’s educationally sound practice not to play music even for little kids though they haven’t reached the formal stage of chinuch.

Haircut:

May I take a haircut on Lag B’omer?

The general custom is to avoid taking a haircut on Lag B’omer. If there is a special necessity (for instance, your hair is inappropriately long — see “Men growing long hair”) you may take a haircut.

See website for lengthy sources and reasoning for this Psak.

Men Growing Long Hair 

Many poskim have choice words to say about men growing a fringe, long hair in the front, or even long hair in the back.

Therefore, a man who has let his hair grow long should hasten to cut it, so much so that poskim say that he may cut it even during the days of Sefirah, the Three Weeks and the Nine Days, since having long hair is a more serious prohibition than that of cutting hair on those days. 

Does the prohibition of haircutting during Sefirah apply to women as well?

The prohibition [of cutting hair] applies to women too.

However, one may pluck eyebrows and eyelashes or do electrolysis.  

I am in shidduchim and learned that certain restrictions during the Omer are waived when it comes to shidduchim. Is it allowed for a woman to trim her hair in order to be presentable or at least to feel presentable and confident on a shidduch meeting? 

If it’s for shidduchim purposes, it is permitted for a woman to trim her hair if it’s needed.

How about buying and wearing new clothing for the purpose of a shidduch date?

It is permitted. 

 

* References and Marei Mekomos are available for this Halacha on the websites: www.Halacha2Go.com and www.AskTheRav.com

Please note that these halachos apply in general situations. In unique circumstances, a different halacha may apply. If you are unsure whether the halacha applies to your particular situation, please consult a Rov.

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