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I have seen written on almost every music CD and Cassette Tape that I have in my house the line:

Please do not play on Shabbos and Yom Tov

I've always wondered if this is really necessary. Does not having this line make the seller an accomplice to the one who transgresses on Shabbos?

More importantly, though, how did this practice originate? Last time I bought a chicken at my local butcher, I don't recall seeing a sign "please do not cook on Shabbos". Actually, I don't remember seeing this anywhere else. So why music?

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Why does bottled water - H2O with traces of minerals - have a Hashgacha? (Not a real question, but I feel that it has similar reasons.) –  Shmuel Nov 29 '11 at 19:32
    
@ShmuelL I would think that a Hashgacha on water is simply for marketing reasons (a.k.a. money) on the part of the manufacturer. (i.e. manufacturers believe that it'll help make their product more attractive to Kosher consumers) –  yydl Nov 29 '11 at 20:41
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That's probably why, but there are definitely people who think it must have one, or they won't drink it. On a somewhat-related note, there is pork sauce (sauce to put on pork) that has a hashgacha. Purely marketing, but still... –  Shmuel Nov 30 '11 at 4:59
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@ShmuelL: the water may be bottled on the same line as some other kind of liquid, or the water may be stored in a non-kosher tanker for more than 24 hours –  Menachem Dec 4 '11 at 2:11
    
According to HaRav Shalom Mashash ZSWQ"L one is permitted to listen a radio on Simhat Torah. –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 26 '12 at 2:12

5 Answers 5

Maybe because early Jewish recordings were mostly cantorial style, and there was a serious concern that people would play recordings of Shabbos and Yom Tov liturgy on those days.

Also, perhaps it is psychologically more disturbing to think that someone will play a recording that makes your voice speak on Shabbos.

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Where are sources? –  morah hochman Dec 4 '11 at 22:14
    
@morahhochman - sources for what, exactly? –  Dave Dec 4 '11 at 23:33

The March 20, 2013 issue of Mishpacha magazine contains the following anecdote in an interview of the singer Avrohom Fried, regarding the events preceding the production of his first album, "No Jew Will be Left Behind," in 1981:

[He] kept his plan quiet. But he wrote a letter to the [Lubavitcher] Rebbe explaining his idea, and the Rebbe wrote back wishing him hatzlachah -- and instructing him to print the words "Please do not play this recording on Shabbos and Jewish holidays" on the album.

"It seemed like a strange suggestion," muses the singer. "After all, how many people were there who were into chassidic music but not into Shabbos?"

It was a suggestion that could only have been made by someone who belived that no Jew will be left behind -- that even one transgression by one Yid is too much.

However, the practice seems to have begun even earlier, as the 1973 debut album of Mordechai Ben David contains the admonition, "Please do not play this record on the Sabbath." Similarly, his 1974 album Hineni states, "Please do not play this record on the Sabbath or Holidays." It's quite possible that this, too, originated with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as MBD did have some connection with the Rebbe (if my impressions are correct). But this is just conjecture.

Update: I checked the jackets of the early albums of Cantor David Werdyger (MBD's father), and discovered that his 1959 record "T'filo L'Dovid" did not contain the phrase in question, but it did appear in his 1962 record "Songs of the Gerrer Chasidim." So the practice definitely predates Avrohom Fried by at least 19 years.

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Is it not also possible that the Rebbe was made aware of the label on at least one preexisting recording, originating from some other motive as of 1981, approved of the practice, and recommended it? –  WAF Mar 28 '13 at 23:01
    
@WAF - Yes, I thought of that... maybe the LR saw an MBD album and liked the "do not play on Shabbos" bit. But the other way around seemed more reasonable. –  Dave Mar 29 '13 at 0:19

When a person buys a kosher chicken from a butcher, it is presumed that he will not cook it on Shabbos. I mean, he knows about keeping kosher so he probably knows about Shabbos, too.

CDs, however, are purchased by a wide range of Jews. Unfortunately, not every Jew knows that playing CDs on Shabbos or Yom Tov is not permissible in the Jewish religion.

It's just a little insurance, baby. The Shomer-Shabbos musician will not be happy that another Jew is violating Shabbos to hear his/her music!

By the way, don't read this answer on Shabbos or Yom Tov!

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Actually I would assume it's the opposite. Someone who keeps Kosher can be doing it for alternative motives (cleanliness, convenience, tradition). –  yydl Nov 30 '11 at 4:46
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MBE, welcome to Judaism.SE and thank you for your answer! None of the moderators seem to be around, so I'm doing the welcoming, if you prefer the special feeling that comes with a moderator's personal welcome, I'm sure they'll oblige! I hope to see you around the site! –  HodofHod Nov 30 '11 at 7:51
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@HodofHod, I'm sure your welcome is just as welcome as any mod's. –  Isaac Moses Dec 1 '11 at 15:36

According to the book Misguiding the Perplexed by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

A person who broadcasts on a radio show geared towards Jews and is heard on Shabbat is a violation of Lifnei Iver (putting a stumbling block before the blind). (He bases this on Tzitz Eliezer Vol. XVI)

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Interesting, but how does it answer the question? –  msh210 Dec 4 '11 at 16:50
    
@msh210 How does it not? –  Seth J Dec 8 '11 at 18:57
    
@SethJ: Not deliberately trying to get Jews to operate radios (which is what Rabbi Hoffman advocates) is a far cry from asking them not to (which is what the tapes' labels do). –  msh210 Dec 8 '11 at 19:22

It is possible that the prohibition against microphones and amplifiers applies. The singer would be amplifying his/her voice which would be a prohibition against Shabbat.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in Tradition Magazine Spring 1974 has a very famous and seemingly definitive article/responsa on the use of microphones on Shabbat. Unfortunately the article itself can only be viewed with a subscription to Tradition magazine so I can not provide a link, however, below are some of the excepts and summaries that I found from his responsa.

Rav Feinstein distinguished between objects which are in continuous activity, like a water mill, and those which only operate at intervals, like the chiming of a clock. In the former, there is no reason to suspect that the owner has violated Shabbat, since the sound of the mill can be heard continuously from before Shabbat. In the latter, however, there is reason to suspect that the owner set it on Shabbat, since it does not sound continuously. In line with this logic, Rav Sahul Yisraeli reasons that since we follow the Rema’s opinion that we are concerned about creating suspicion, and microphones fall into the latter category (where there are grounds for suspicion since it is not in continuous use), we should forbid the use of microphones.

In the first responsum (Igrot Moshe OC 3:55), Rav Feinstein wrote: “One’s speech causes [the circuit] to contain more electricity, and it is possible that this is a melacha, for the nature of electricity has not been clarified.” In the second (OC 4:84), he elaborated: “The electric current increases according to the volume of the voice ... We can see this when we attach to the microphone another device measuring the current ... We [also] know that the microphone uses more electricity when someone is talking [into it] than it does when not in use. One who employs electricity on Shabbat may violate a biblical prohibition, even where there is no hav’ara; practically speaking, this matter requires thorough investigation.”

He added there, “The voice heard via the microphone is no longer the voice of the speaker, but rather an [electrical] impression of his voice ... This is a possible biblical prohibition - that his voice makes an impression on some component of the microphone. Despite the fact that this is not considered writing, for there are no letters, nevertheless there is reason to suspect a melacha [is involved], since something new has been created by means of which an amplified voice can be heard. Perhaps this violates makkeh b’patish or boneh; [the question of] the actual melacha involved must be analyzed.”

Therefore, if CD players are amplifiers, just like microphones it would be prohibited to play even if the person playing and listening to the cd play is a non-Jew.

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Morah Hochman, thanks for editing your answer (for future reference you can simply edit your answer instead of deleting it and starting over). As to my request for sources, I would humbly suggest that the more sources you can provide for each assertion being made, the better, and you'll find that the answers that are most accepted and most promoted fit that format. Thanks again for your insight! –  Seth J Dec 1 '11 at 19:14
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Now I have one question on your insight: How does it necessarily follow that just because someone months or even years ago recorded his voice onto a device that now he is in violation of a biblical prohibition (assuming like R' Moshe's worst-case scenario) just because someone else is playing the music? With a microphone, the amplification is happening now. It's not replaying what was previously recorded. Whatever "has been created by means of which an amplified voice can be heard" was created long ago, not on Shabbath at all. Please don't take this as criticism; just a request for more. –  Seth J Dec 1 '11 at 19:19
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And why wouldn't this (or any other reason) apply to anything else that Jews create that have functions that are not permissible on Shabbath/Y"T (online videos; Judaism.SE, or even major appliances manufactured by Jewish-owned companies (Better Place - or even Kosher Lamps, for example)? –  Seth J Dec 8 '11 at 19:03
    
What about Tzomet-brand microphones designed especially for Shabbat? –  Adam Mosheh Jun 27 '12 at 23:44

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