We are continuing in our discussion of the halachos of tznius as they apply to a katan. Today, we will discuss singing. We will follow the approach of the Mishnah Berurah.
Chazal teach us that kol b’isha ervah, a woman’s singing is considered ervah. Chazal’s use of the term ervah has two implications. First, in the same way there is an inherent issur to see ervah, even without deriving hanaah, there is an issur to hear kol isha, even when not for the purposes of hanaah. (If a person listens for hanaah, there can also be an issue of hirhur.) The second implication is that in the same way one may not speak devarim shebikdusha in front of ervah, they cannot speak devarim shebikedusha around kol isha either.
In regards to the first concern, the Mishnah Berurah holds that the issur does not apply until a girl turns 11. Since they are not yet a niddah, there is no issue of ervah, so as long as a person is not listening for the purposes of hanaah, it is not assur.
However, kol isha while engaged in devarim shebikedusha is a problem from a younger age (see below for the exact age).
There is a unique exception that a father or grandfather can hear the kol isha of his daughters or granddaughters until age 11 even while engaged in devarim shebikdusha. However, once they turn 11, the father or grandfather has the same issur as anyone else when it comes to devarim shebikedusha. Nevertheless, they have no issur to hear their daughters or granddaughters sing even after age 11 when not involved in devarim shebikedusha, because we assume they are not libo nokfo (stirred by hearing them sing). There are many poskim who are meikil even after age 11 for devarim shebikedusha; one should ask their poseik.
A brother hearing a sister sing has the same halachos as a father or grandfather. Through age 10, a brother does not have a problem of kol isha during devarim shebikedusha. Even after age 11, there are poskim who are meikil during devarim shebikedusha. Either way, there is no issur when they are not involved in devarim shebikedusha, regardless of the age of the sister.
When kol b’isha ervah does apply (e.g., to non-relatives, or to those who are machmir in the situations above), if one recites shema while hearing kol isha, they must repeat it. However, they do not repeat the brachos.
If the girl singing is very young, under the age of six or seven, the argument can be made that she is too young to generate an issur, and one does not need to stop davening or learning around her.
In a family where the father and/or brothers are makpid on the kol isha of their daughters/sisters from age 11, they must be careful when it comes to shabbos zemiros. The zemiros which are actual pesukim, such as eishes chayil or mizmor ledovid, would be a problem, and the father and/or brothers would not be able to recite those pesukim while the girls are singing. Regular zemiros do not have that concern. However, there are some who hold that if one uses the sheim Hashem in zemiros, it elevates the zemiros to be considered devarim shebikedusha, so they should be careful not to recite sheim Hashem. Again, one should consult with their rav.
- There are two concerns surrounding kol isha, a) simply hearing it (even not for hanaah), and b) while engaged in devarim shebikedusha.
- Regarding hearing kol isha, the Mishnah Berurah holds it does not apply until age 11.
- Regarding devarim shebikedusha, it will apply from age 6-7.
- Fathers, grandfathers and brothers do not have to be concerned about hearing their daughter/granddaughter/sister. Some are makpid regarding devarim shebikedusha from age 11; one should consult their rav.
- If one recites shema while hearing kol isha, they must repeat shema, but do not repeat the brachos.