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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 8.32:
What is the restriction on woman to sing in public and infront of men?

Answer:

The prohibition is phrased in the Talmud as "voice, in a woman, is something erotic". In Aramaic, "qol be'ishah ervah" (from which comes the common name for the prohibition, "kol ishah") With the leading "be-" (in) omitted, it means "a woman's voice".

The fundamental prohibition is on men—that they are not to listen to women sing. There is a law, though, against causing others to sin. It comes from the verse "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind." Therefore, implied in a man's prohibition against listening is a woman's against singing in a situation where men would be listening.

However, in practice, there are leniencies. For example, it does not apply to immediate family members. Most rule it does not apply to recorded or remotely transmitted voices. Many rule it does not apply to sung prayer. Some rule it does not apply to group singing, only when a woman sings alone. Different communities have different practices.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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