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Background:

I'm not sure how I feel about: a)the custom to refrain from listening to recorded music during Sefirah or b)the assumption that recorded a cappella music is not considered instrumental (despite the fact that there is nobody sitting in front of you singing; ie., the recording is itself an instrument). OK, I'm pretty sure we all can tell how I feel about b. Anyone disagree, though? And any thoughts on a?

I'm also not entirely sure why live singing isn't a problem during Sefirah (assuming it's done for the sake of making people happy and spreading joy).

I understand that refraining from listening to music appears to be Minhag Yisrael, but it's not mentioned anywhere before later Aḥaronim - even the RaM"A doesn't mention it: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9008&st&pgnum=292 (or does someone else contemporaneous to or preceding the MeḤaber mention it?).

To be clear, I'm operating on a couple of assumptions, so please correct me if I'm wrong:

  1. The practice to refrain from listening to music during the period - not discussing the prohibition the rest of the year, which is clearly not followed by most - is a (comparatively) recent trend.
  2. I don't believe the prohibition was ever an issue of personal joy, so much as public expressions of joy/celebration.
  3. Live performance of music is one of many forms of expression/manifestation of public joy and celebration, especially when accompanied by dancing.

So, considering all of the above, why is live a cappella ok? And if instrumental music itself is a problem why is recorded a cappella ok?

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1 Answer 1

Apparently it is not

http://matzav.com/p%E2%80%99sak-from-rav-yisroel-belsky-and-rav-shlomo-miller-on-acappella-music-during-sefirah-2

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I like this paragraph, because it reinforces my questions: "There is a common misconception that music is ossur during Sefirah. Nowhere in Hilchos Sefirah or the halachos of The Three Weeks does it mention that there is a minhag not to listen to music. All that is mentioned by the earlier poskim is that there is a minhag to abstain from rikkudim u’mecholos, dancing." Unfortunately, although the article goes on to state that it is now "our Minhag", it does not elaborate very much (it does a bit, I admit) as to why, or when this became the case, or corroborate it with sources. –  Seth J Apr 29 '11 at 14:17
    
One of my Rabbanim once told me that HaRav Belsky Shalit"a is matir listening to slow tempo a capella music, and that there are Matirim of a capella nowadays. –  Hacham Gabriel May 31 '13 at 22:20
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