Neshama Carlebach On Israel During Wartime, Singing For Mixed Audiences


Neshama Carlebach (far right) performing with leading Israeli singers in Israel during the most recent Lebanon War.

Ynet has an interview with Neshama Carlebach, who performed in Israel during the latest war, traveling there even though 7 1/2 months pregnant and while missiles were falling.

Yet many will focus not on that but on this:

My father never told me not to sing for men. I’ll tell you exactly what he said. He said that if we lived in a time when everyone Jewish women was lighting Shabbat candles and every Jewish women felt that she had a voice to talk to G-d then women wouldn’t have to sing.

“But as long as there is even one woman in the world who feels disconnected and far from G-d, she thinks that she is limited and she thinks that she doesn’t have the same rights, the same opportunities, then, he said, my daughter has to sing. And he said this to me even before I thought this would be my career. I didn’t think what I was doing was so important, but then after my father died it became a part of my heart.”

Kol isha is a rabbinic law that had wide interpretation in the Jewish world until recently. Many Sefardic rabbis permitted kol isha as long as the songs sung were religious in nature. The Mordechai, a prominent Ashkenazi Rishon, I believe did the same.

But few of today’s Orthodox Jews know this. And few care.

Let the invective begin.

[The rest of us can buy a CD or two to show our support. The best two in my mind are Ani Shelach and Dancing With My Soul.]



Filed under History, Israel, Music

12 responses to “Neshama Carlebach On Israel During Wartime, Singing For Mixed Audiences

  1. The UNLUBAB

    You still have the Lubavitch tendency to speak out of the rear end, though you have long left those ingnorant wack jobs.
    Please show some proof that Kol Isha is ‘ONLY’rabbinically prohibited (I’m unaware of such a distinction )Even if it is:What difference does it make?Most of what religous Jews observe is ‘only’ ‘miderabonon’ and this is binding upon us to listen to ‘Chachomim’ midoraysa because of the mandate of ‘lo sosur'(based on the mitzvah of ‘Lo Sosur’, Do not deviate from the instructions of the Sages) .
    In summation:If you believe that all the Orthodox are wrong about ‘kol isha’ do what basic journalism call for:Furnish halachikally acceptable sources.

  2. “Many Sefardic rabbis permitted kol isha as long as the songs sung were religious in nature. The Mordechai, a prominent Ashkenazi Rishon, I believe did the same.”


    The Source of the Prohibition
    The Gemara (Berachot 24a) states, “The voice of a woman is Ervah, as the Pasuk [in Shir Hashirim 2:14] states ‘let me hear your voice because your voice is pleasant and appearance attractive.’” Rashi explains that the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim indicates that a woman’s voice is attractive to a man, and is thus prohibited to him. Rav Hai Gaon (cited in the Mordechai, Berachot 80) writes that this restriction applies to a man who is reading Kriat Shema, because a woman’s singing will distract him. The Rosh (Berachot 3:37) disagrees and writes that the Gemara refers to all situations and is not limited to Kriat Shema.…

    There is, however, considerable disagreement regarding the scope of the Kol Isha prohibition. For example, the question of its applicability to Zemirot has been discussed at some length in the twentieth century responsa literature. Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg (Teshuvot Seridei Eish 2:8) notes that traditionally women refrained from singing Zemirot when there were males who were not family members sitting at the Shabbat table. However, he records that the practice in Germany was for woman to sing Zemirot in the company of unrelated men. Rav Weinberg records that Rav Azriel Hildesheimer and Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (two great German Rabbis of the nineteenth century) sanctioned this practice. Rav Weinberg reports that they based their ruling on the Talmudic rule (Megila 21b) that “Trei Kali Lo Mishtamai,” two voices cannot be heard simultaneously.

    Rav Weinberg writes that he does not find this explanation satisfying (perhaps because the Gemara (Sotah 48a) writes that men and women singing together is a major impropriety). Rav Weinberg instead defends the German Jewish practice by citing the Sdei Chemed (Klalim, Maarechet Hakuf, 42) who quotes the Divrei Cheifetz who asserts that the Kol Isha prohibition does not apply to women singing Zemirot, singing songs to children, and lamentations for the dead. This authority explains that in these contexts men do not derive pleasure from the woman’s voice. In fact, the Pasuk (Shoftim 5:1) records that Devora the prophetess sang a song of praise to Hashem together with Barak the son of Avinoam. According to the simple reading of the text, Devora was married to Lapidot and not Barak. The Sdei Chemed writes that he believes that it is proper to be strict and not follow the approach of the Divrei Cheifetz, but he regards the lenient opinion as a viable approach.…

  4. avrohom


    you hack txhaynik from head to toe. You fail to begin to understand these notions and you spout off:

    Just to the point of this discussion:

    Sephardic Rabbis do not give a blanket permission to listen to kol isha and what you write is misleading, am horatzoos and booros. What you write “…Kol isha is a rabbinic law that had wide interpretation in the Jewish world until recently. Many Sefardic rabbis permitted kol isha as long as the songs sung were religious in nature”.

    is baloney: Here is what Rav Ovadya writes:
    שו”ת יביע אומר חלק א – או”ח סימן ו ד”ה (יג) המורם

    (יג) המורם מכל האמור דביודעה ומכירה אפי’ ע”י תמונה אסור לשמוע קולה בגרמפון או ברדיו, אבל אם אינו מכירה מותר, ואין בזה משום קול באשה ערוה. והנלע”ד כתבתי.

    Which means that if you listen to ladies singing, on radio, where you know the lady it is PROHIBITED. That includes also if your knowledge of her is just through seeing her picture (like our instance where these ladies are known by their pictures) even occasionally).

    Likewise what you write that the prohibition is rabbinically is not to be taken as a blanket statement some hold it is biblical.

  5. a

    It’s not a Biblical prohibition for at least two reasons:
    1)The Talmud derives it from a drush on a verse in Shir haShirim (Song of Songs) thus according to the Rambam (and basic common sense) it can’t be counted among the 613 Torah mitzvot but is rabbinic in origin.
    2)It’s writen that at the time of redemption we will once again hear the “voice of the groom and the voice of the bride” (kol sason ve kol simcha kol hassan ve kol kalah) commentaries explain that at that time kol isha will again be permited as it once was…

  6. PishPosh

    Avraham do you want to put Moshe Rabbeinu up on charges for not silencing his sister and the other Benot Israel when they starting singing at Yam Suf?

  7. avrohom

    Please, you guys do not know from head to toe the principles of torah shebaal peh and what is biblical and what is rabbinic:

    I’ll quote here a bit from Chaccham Ovadya about the discussion whether kol isho is biblical or rabbinical:

    שו”ת יביע אומר חלק א – או”ח סימן ו ד”ה (ח) איברא

    (ח) איברא שיש כמה אחרונים דס”ל דקול באשה ערוה הוי מן התורה, ולכאורה היה נראה לתלות ד”ז במחלוקת הראשונים אי סד”א לחומרא הוי מה”ת או מדרבנן. והואיל והרהור הוי איסורו מן התורה, כמ”ש בע”ז (כ:) ת”ר ונשמרת מכל דבר רע שלא יהרהר אדם ביום וכו’, וכ’ התוס’, דהאי קרא דרשה גמורה היא ולא אסמכתא, כדמוכח בכתובות (מו) ע”ש. ואפי’ הרהור פנויה נמי הוי מה”ת, כמ”ש רבינו יונה הובא בב”י אה”ע (סי’ כא). ומכיון שיש עכ”פ ספק שיבא לידי הרהור ע”י הקול, וכמ”ש הגמ”י בשם ר”ח דהרהור מיהא איכא, נמצא שיש כאן סד”א, ותליא בפלוגתא דרבוותא אי הוי מה”ת או מדרבנן. וראיתי להגו”ר בגן המלך (סי’ ק), שהביא בשם מהריק”ש או”ח (סי’ ריז), דס”ל דקול מראה וריח בעריות אין איסורם אלא מדרבנן, שמא יקריבו יותר מדאי ליהנות. וכמ”ש תוס’ יומא (לט:), וכ’ ע”ז, ולענ”ד דאין דבריו נכונים, דקול ומראה דאשה איסור גדול יש בהם, כמ”ש (ברכות כד) שוק באשה ערוה שנא’ גלי שוק, וכתיב תגל ערותך, וכן קול באשה ערוה שנא’ וכו’. וכ”ש מראה שאמרו עליו טוב מראה עינים מהלך נפש [יומא עד:] ואין דברי התוס’ יומא אמורים אלא לגבי קדשים וכו’. עכת”ד. +/מילואים/ מש”כ ע”ד המהריק”ש שכ’, שאף לענין ערוה אמרינן קול מראה וריח אין בהן משום מעילה לאסור מן התורה, ע’ בשו”ת צל הכסף ח”ב (מע’ ברכות, מע’ מ אות ה) שהסכים לאסור בזה מן התורה, דלא כמהריק”ש. וכמ”ש הברכי יוסף (סי’ ריז) בשם החרדים. ע”ש. אכן בס’ האשכול ח”ג (עמוד קכט) כ’, ראיה כגון בעריות טפח באשה וכו’, וכן ראית הקדש ושמיעת קול וריח, אע”פ שאין בהן איסור מעילה מה”ת איסורא איכא. ע”ש. ומוכח כד’ מהריק”ש. וע’ להחק”ל בס’ מערכי לב ח”א (דע”ח ע”ג). ובשו”ת שלמת חיים (חיו”ד סי’ כד). ע”ש. ובעיקר השאלה בדין שמיעת קול אשה ברדיו וגרמופון, שו”ר כעת בשו”ת מהרש”ג ח”ב (סי’ קיח) שכ’ להתיר. וע’ בשו”ת משנה הלכות ח”ד (סי’ פו). וי”ל ע”ד.+ והנה אע”פ שכן מבואר בב”י אה”ע (סי’ כא) בשם רבינו יונה, דהמסתכל בא”א איסורו מה”ת שנא’ ולא תתורו וכו’, ואסור להסתכל בפנויה מדברי קבלה שנא’ ברית כרתי לעיני ומה אתבונן על בתולה. ע”ש. מבואר להדיא דמראה אסור מה”ת. אולם הבית שמואל (שם ס”ק ב) כ’ דלהרמב”ם איסור זה מדרבנן. ע”ש. וע’ בשו”ת אחיעזר ח”ג (סי’ כה אות ה) שכ’, שלפי הנראה הרמב”ם והש”ע חולקים על התוס’ (ע”ז כ) וס”ל דקרא דונשמרת מכל דבר רע, אסמכתא בעלמא הוא, ואין זה אלא מדרבנן. ע”ש. וכיו”ב כ’ הגרי”פ פירלא בבאורו לס’ המצות של רס”ג ח”ב (דף ו’ ע”ד). ע”ש. וכ”כ הגאון ר’ רפאל ברדוגו בספר תורות אמת אה”ע (סי’ כא), שכל מוני המצות ס”ל שהרהור ע”י הבטה ביופיה אינו אלא מדרבנן, וקרא אסמכתא בעלמא הוא, ודלא כהתוס’. ע”ש. ואפשר לומר אליבא דהתוס’ ורבינו יונה, דבהא פליגי בכתובות (יז) גבי הא דאמר ר’ שמואל בר נחמני א”ר יונתן מותר להסתכל בפני כלה כל שבעה כדי לחבבה על בעלה, ומסיק הש”ס דלית הלכתא כוותיה. ע”כ. דבהא קמיפלגי דלר’ יונתן איסור הסתכלות בא”א הוי רק מדרבנן, מש”ה קא שרי בכלה, דלא מסתבר להתיר איסורא דאורייתא משום כדי לחבבה על בעלה. וע’ מ”ש הרמב”ם בריש ס’ מעשה רוקח (ד”א ע”א) בדין לא ילבש גבר וכו’ בשמחת חתן וכלה, ובב”ח ביו”ד (סי’ קפב). ע”ש. והדברים עתיקים.

  8. Neo-Conservaguy

    The concept of Qol Isha is an embarrassment of the Orthodox world and causes them to be the laughing stock of every modern Jew. It is widely ignored among MO Jews in non-public worship situations – when they allow themselves to practice what they really believe and watch TV and listen to the radio airwaves full of hot babes singing pop songs. But it sure it a great hammer to keep women from participating in the worship service, eh? How convenient.

    Besides, as we all know, Miriam and the women didn’t really sing in Torah: they mimed the lyrics and the men sang the words to protect the (soon to be Jewish) neshamoth and the reputations of the women. Really.

  9. avrohom

    the concept is not an embarassment to the people who observe torah. Those who actaully do not observe should be embarassed because there is no permission for all the violations of kol isha and of watching improper non tzniusdike scenes and pictures in the media.

    Those who do not beleive in Torah She Baal Peh and their divinity aer in a bind. They do not know what they beleive in…They beleive in nothing…in a man made religion and they laugh at tradition that preserved our nation.

    The stupid crack about miriam is simply stupid, because a cursory reading of the chumash clearly implies how miriam sang with the ladies, showing that the men sang separately.

  10. Nigritude Ultramarine

    Avraham do you want to put Moshe Rabbeinu up on charges for not silencing his sister and the other Benot Israel when they starting singing at Yam Suf?

    Well, that was a special case. First, there was a mechitza, yeah that’s it, a GIANT mechitza – 10 stories tall. Second, all of the women wore burkas and several pairs of thick nylon stockings. Finally, each woman had a “Mr. Microphone” so as to distort her voice.

  11. Neo-Conservaguy

    Don’t know what we believe in? Hardly, my foolish haredi friend. We believe in a divinely inspired Torah without regard to the path the text may have taken to get to us in its present form. It doesn’t matter to us that R. Ezra was an editor, or that the text shows clear evidence of being written over a long period of time. We believe that there have been sages of every generation to interpret existing law and create new law as required to meet the needs of the people. We believe Mishna, Mechilta, Tosephta, both Talmuds, and later writings represent the collected wisdom of those sages offered to the betterment of the Jewish people. We don’t believe that Mishna was whispered in Moshe’s ear by haShem, and neither did the sages – hence the inclusion of the passage in the Talmud (Menakhot P. 29/B) describing Moshe in the future (of his time) listening in to a class of R. Akiva. How could it be that R. Akiva could claim the halakhoth unknown to Moshe was from Moshe at Sinai??? Because the framework of rabbinic thought was from that tradition rather than the actual words that were relevant to that time. Welcome to Judaism – it’s a living, breathing, evolving religious, just as it always has been.

  12. Ed

    Its amazing how avrohom hit the nail on the head…
    Good work!!!
    Just one question? where did you get the hebrew text?
    Shmarya you really need to get started on writing your
    own jewish law.

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