21 Rulings of Rav Elyashiv zt”l on Kol Isha


By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

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In a new sefer that was just released entitled “Yevakshu MiPihu- Hilchos Tefillah Vol. III” there are hundreds of new rulings from Rav Elyashiv zt”l that have never been printed.  The author is Rav Zelig Kosovsky who was present with Rav Elyashiv for over 20 years.  The sefer has the backing of Rav Elyashiv’s family members.  What follows are some highlights from chapter twenty-nine in the sefer.  Some of the questions were combined together and re-organized by this author (RYH).

  1. It is permitted to hear the voice of a woman who is speaking.
  2. It is not permitted to hear the voice of a woman singing unless two factors are present: 1] He is accustomed to hear her singing and 2] He became accustomed to hear her singing in a permitted manner. In other words if he only became accustomed to her voice by hearing it in a forbidden manner it is still forbidden for him to hear it.  It is forbidden even regarding a Baal Teshuvah who became accustomed to hear a voice b’issur.
  3. He may hear his daughter’s voice or his sister’s voice if he was accustomed to hear it. This is permitted lechatchilah. Even if she is sixteen and he is twenty.
  4. Even though he may hear his daughter or his sister singing – he may not recite the shaim Hashem, psukim, or dvarim sheb’kedusha while hearing them sing. He may, however, sing zmiros with them as long as he sings “Hashem” instead of Hashem’s actual Name.
  5. A sister is permitted to sing while cleaning even if her brother is unaccustomed to hearing his sister’s voice since he does not pay attention to it.
  6. If a sister is married, however, it is proper to avoid hearing her sing.
  7. He may not hear his wife singing if she is Niddah.
  8. Regarding an adult daughter, one can assume that the father is used to her voice.
  9. In regard to the reading of the Ramah in OC 75:3 – that if he is used to her voice it is not considered an ervah – the reference is to her singing voice not her speaking voice.  When Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Shoneh Halachos 75:25) writes that it is her speaking voice, this is for chumrah but not for halacha.
  10. Singing in front of a brother-in-law is forbidden. At age seven it is forbidden – between four and seven there is a hiddur not to do so.
  11. The age in which a girl’s voice should be considered ervah is unclear. Certainly, three or four would be permitted.  It would appear that by age seven or eight there may be a concern that it may lead to improper thoughts.  In terms of chinuch it is not proper for girls of such an age to be singing in front of men.
  12. When one is (forced to be) present when a woman is singing he should focus on other matters so that he will not be hearing her voice. If a man lives next to a playgroup or Gan – and the teacher or Morah is singing – he should not focus on her singing and there is no prohibition.
  13. An alef-bais Rebbe who enters a playgroup where a woman is singing to other children in the other corner, and he has no other place to go, may teach – he should not focus on her singing and there is no prohibition.
  14. Someone who lives next to a girls’ seminary where there is singing and he needs to bentch – he should not focus on the singing and there is no prohibition.
  15. Someone whose wife is singing while putting the kids to bed and she is in a state of Niddah – he should not focus on her singing and there is no prohibition of him hearing her.
  16. A husband may not even listen to a tape of his own wife singing if she is in a state of Niddah – even if it was recorded when she was tehorah, as this can bring one to hirhur.
  17. An adopted boy may not hear the singing of a sister unrelated to him biologically.
  18. Even old men are forbidden to hear a woman sing.
  19. A taped female voice is technically not considered kol isha, however, if it can come to cause the listener to have improper thoughts it is forbidden.
  20. A Kiruv organization may create a tape of daughters singing in order to be mekarev their irreligious fathers since this is technically not Kol Isha.
  21. A woman may sing, record, and sell songs in a store for girls or women. She need not concern herself that men might listen since this is technically not kol isha. 


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The author may be reached at [email protected]


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Just asking
Just asking
2 years ago

What about all the YouTube song videos of women singing? It is not in a separate store for women.

2 years ago

it seems that the problem is focusing on the singing voice, not the mere hearing it.

2 years ago

This is about Rav Elyashiv’s psak. But the most famous teshuva on Kol Isha is from the Sridei Aish. The isur is only one woman singing, but more than one together is Trei kolei ainom nishmoyim. Furthermore, in general, here in America, the cut off age is not 4 or 7 but Bas Mitzva, below that age is considered mutar.