We are continuing in siman 6, discussing the halachos of kol. We mentioned the possibility of there being a difference between hearing a woman sing in person versus a recording or live transmission, such as radio. Rav Ovadia Yosef has a teshuva in Yabia Omer (vol. 1) on this question. He first discusses whether the issur applies when the man is unfamiliar with the woman, such as when the woman is in a different house, and the man has no idea who is singing. This question is similar to the idea we mentioned prevously, that maybe there is a way to permit a man hearing multiple women singing together, since the man cannot identify a specific woman.
The Gemara in Megillah says that there were some women who were so beautiful that even just hearing their name or their voices would arouse people. The Gemara says that Yael, the wife of Chaver Hakeini, mentioned in Sefer Shoftim, would cause men to be aroused simply when they heard her voice. However, the Gemara qualifies that this only happened to a person who knew her. If so, the Gemara seems to add a condition that kol only brings about an issue when the man is familiar with the woman. Rav Ovadia extends this Gemara back to the issur of kol isha, and writes that the issur only applies when a person is familiar with the woman. If so, the argument we learned yesterday regarding multiple women may be valid.
The question on Rav Ovaida’s teshuva is that the Gemara is not discussing the voice of Yael singing, but her regular speaking voice. Rav Ovadia himself addresses this question, and writes that if Yael’s speaking voice was extraordinary enough that men would be affected, but only if they were familiar with her, we can assume this would apply to other women regarding singing. This connection is debatable, and there are poskim who disagree in this regard. Maybe the uniqueness of Yael’s speaking voice required one to know her, but it could be argued that the singing voice of any woman, even if a man has never seen her, would be problematic.
Nevertheless, Rav Ovadia continues on this approach, bringing other proofs and paskening like it. However, because other poskim disagree, one should be machmir.
Rav Ovadia continues, and discusses a person who hears a woman’s voice directly without seeing her, such as through a transmission. He writes that according to his previous point, the question only arises when one knows the woman already, as if the man has never met the woman there is no problem according to him. He concludes that if the man knows the woman, meaning, he knows what she looks like, he should be machmir. Rav Ovadia writes that one should be machmir even if the man only knows the woman through a picture.
We need to discuss the halachic status of the voice of a person through transmission or recording. Halachically, it is not considered the voice of the individual at all. Rav Shlomo Zalman discusses hearing Megillah through a microphone, or Tekias Shofar through a hearing aid (which is equivalent to a private microphone). He holds it is not considered as though one is hearing the megillah or shofar, because they are hearing a newly created digitized sound rather than the actual voice. If so, digital transmissions of a woman singing should not be a problem. However, on the other hand, Rav Ovadia points out that a digitized voice of a woman signing sounds exactly like the voice of a woman, so maybe it is still problematic. Rav Ovadia assumes it is problematic, even though there is an argument the other way.
We learned that there are two possible concerns regarding kol (shiur 1558). If the issur is due to lo sikrevu, the digital sound is not the sound of an ervah. However, if the concern is hirhur, one can argue that the sound can still cause hirhur. We learned from the Mishnah Berurah that one should be concerned for both possibilities.
We conclude that the requirement that one recognize the woman in order for there to be an issur of kol isha is a machlokes poskim. Considering it is an issur derabanan, there may be room to be meikil. However, the main consensus of the poskim is to be machmir. If it is a transmission and the man is not familiar with the woman, there is room to be meikil. If one is familiar with the woman, Rav Ovadia is machmir although there is also room to be meikil.
We will apply this to zemiros in the next shiur, be’ezras Hashem.
- One should be machmir and refrain from listening to the live singing voice of a woman even if he cannot see her, and is not familiar to him, and to a transmission of a woman’s singing voice.
- However, there may be room to be meikil on a transmission, if one has not seen the woman. One should consult their rav.