According to those traditions which prohibit music during the Three Weeks and parts of Sefirah, but permit a capella, would listening to computer-generated vocals be permissible during Sefirah? Is the custom to permit vocals, however that’s defined, and would include anything which sounds like vocals? Or is there something unique about actual vocals which wouldn't extend to computer-generated?

I'd assume that computer-generated vocals couldn't be any worse than a recording of human vocals, regarding which many are lenient, but perhaps there's a distinction between something which was at some point an actual human voice and something which was never a human voice (though I can't imagine why).

Yes, this question extends to any other such situation of an instrument which sounds like a human. I only ask in this type of situation because in my experience it’s the most common such example.


2 Answers 2


Here's my unsourced, albeit serious answer:

  1. This and numerous other arguments depend on one distinction - do we follow the source or the target, in other words, because this comes out of a musical instrument it is forbidden, or because it sounds to us as such.

  2. Here, the standard approach is that we follow the source, no matter how it sounds, here's why all the Charedi radio stations love the new wave of Bobby's "Don't worry be happy".

  3. Although there's always a "מראית עין" indirect prohibition, it is always temporal, until people get used to, for example, (it always drives me mad) all the "Chometz-like" Kosher products on Pesach indistinguishable from the originals (cakes, pizzas, rolls, etc).

  4. Usually, we follow the rule that we don't extend Rabbinical decrees on new things, not covered originally, even if they look alike. THere's probably no Shu"A on computer music, but, based on #2 we should forbid it as being "not voice-based."

  5. However, while far from being a Posek, I tend to allow that, because of three reasons:

    • It is not considered an instrument and not listed in the original list of forbidden ones.

    • I would speculate, that just as writing on a computer is not considered writing (like deleting holy names), maybe computer music is not music at all, even if it appears to us as such (as dots on a screen appear as writing).

    • The abundance of computer music minimizes the enjoyment and makes it a commodity and our reality is very far from what was some 2000 or 500 years ago, for example, having a shower every day is not considered luxury anymore, it's a must, similarly, the music became a sort of a background we live in, and therefore the prohibition would be lessened significantly.

  • Those Poskim who permit recorded Kol Ishah do so because it’s an instrument, not because it’s not considered music. Does that have any bearing on your argument you think?
    – DonielF
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 18:11
  • THat's #1, the problem with most poskim they don't differentiate between the approaches, making a mess. How Kol Isha is connected here?
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 18:18
  • It’s a voice which is emulated by a computer, and those Poskim hold that it’s an instrument, rather than a voice. Yet many of those same Poskim permit recorded a capella. Does that mean that they don’t make any sense, or that there’s a different benchmark for Sefirah than there is for Kol Isha?
    – DonielF
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 18:53
  • It seems that the follow exactly what I brought here - no additional prohibitions. Kol Ishah is much more severe as it causes wrongful thoughts etc, and even here they allow it. However, I mentioned a completely different approach of not calling it music at all. How do you like it?
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 19:09

Rav Yisroel Belsky wrote a letter which was published on Matzav.com (see here) about a capella music.

He points out that even vocal music which is altered or enhanced electronically stops being called a capella and becomes regular music. He makes a clear distinction between pure a capella (like a choir) versus vocal+enhancement.

So it would seem clear that according to Rav Belsky, electronic music would be a problem even if it sounded like pure vocals.

See here where he quotes the brief synopsis of the teshuva; but it's worth seeing the whole teshuva inside at the above link in order to understand the distinctions being made.

  • 1
    I read it, and it sounds like his position is it doesn't matter what's making the sound as much as does the sound sound like something you could make on your own.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 22:49

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