Assuming for a moment that one holds that the prohibition of listening to music during the Three Weeks / Nine Days applies to recorded music, if one were in a store that had music playing on the speaker system, and one's favorite song came on, could one take a moment to enjoy the song? If the answer is no, one should not take any added pleasure in the music, should one try not to listen to it (cover one's ears and say "lalalala" for three minutes or so) or leave the store until it is over? If one can stay, and even enjoy the music, can one sit and relax and enjoy it, or should one try to stick to one's business and enjoy it as little as possible?

Case in point, this morning, 3 Av, I was purchasing some food for breakfast, at a little convenience store near my office, which also operates as a mini-cafe, cooking fresh food, with seating available to customers. As I was getting my things together for purchase, one of my all-time favorite songs came on the radio, which was being played loudly enough to provide background music for the customers' and employees' enjoyment. I took note of it, and since I had to wait to check out before the song ended, I was given about a minute or so to simply stand there, doing nothing, listening to one of my favorite songs, which was being played at the decision of the store owner, during the Nine Days.

I suppose I could have left for the last remaining 2 minutes or so, but I did not. Nor, however, did I sit down at one of the tables to enjoy it; I actually checked out and left before the song ended (it's a long song).

Any thoughts? Sources appreciated.

1 Answer 1


Seth, all of the detailed laws regarding when you don't have to worry about listening to music and when you do are really just applications of a single broader law: When Av comes around, we restrict our joy. Actions that are done for joy are improper. If they are done for other reasons, thats OK.

For example, building for joy is prohibited. So I can't paint my kitchen. But I can replace my gutters if they are in disrepair. I can't listen to music for pleasure. But I can listen if I am stressed or depressed and want to remove that displeasure.

So, you were OK "listening" to the music while your goal was to buy breakfast even if you happened to like the song (no la-las necessary), but once you made a positive decision to enjoy it, that would violate the mishna.

I have had this challenge many times. I wish it were my worst aveira.

  • 2
    +1 "I wish it were my worst aveira." First of all, love the subjunctive, second of all, so do we all. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 22:14

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