As pointed out here, it is not required and widely common for a boy under Bar Mitzva to lead the congregation in the singing of Shir Hakavd.

My question: is it acceptable for a girl under Bat Mitzva to lead the congregation for Shir Hakavod as well?

  • בבתי כנסת הנוהגים שהחזן קורא שורה והקהל קוראים שורה, נהוג לתת את החזנות לילד קטן (מתחת לגיל בר מצווה). יש הטוענים כי הסיבה לכך היא שרק ילד קטן ותמים יכול לדבר אל הקב"ה בצורה כה ישירה. – preferred May 7 '14 at 11:16
  • from that site. Even though this may be correct (which I doubt) it can only be if he understands what he is talking about which I also doubt very much. Knowing the tune is hardly good enough – preferred May 7 '14 at 11:18
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/38840/… – Shmuel Jun 2 '14 at 22:51

As always, please consult your rabbi for a practical ruling.

The Seridei Eish (2:8) defends the practice of women singing zemirot on Shabbat by citing the Sdei Chemed (Klalim, Maarechet Hakuf, 42) who quotes the Divrei Cheifetz who asserts that the Kol Isha prohibition does not apply to women singing Zemirot, because men do not derive pleasure from the woman’s voice in this context. In fact, the Pasuk (Shoftim 5:1) records that Devora the prophetess sang a song of praise to Hashem together with Barak the son of Avinoam.

Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein argues that the ruling of the Divrei Cheifetz and Seridei Eish permits listening to a woman singing at official Tzahal events that are formal and serious. He first bolsters the opinion of the Divrei Cheifetz and the Seridei Eish by demonstrating that Rambam, Rashba and Ra’avyah agree that the Kol Ishah prohibition is not absolute but rather emerges from concern lest it lead to sin. Thus, in a context that concern for sin is not relevant, the Kol Ishah does not apply.

It may be possible to extend R' Lichtenstein's reasoning to other formal and serious events, such as the one in the question, especially given that singing holy songs should not lead to concern for sin.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe O.C.1:26) and Rav Ovadia Yosef (Taharat Habayit 2:270) rule (based on the Mishna Berura 75:17) that in case of need, one may rely on the ruling that the prohibition of Kol Isha does not apply to girls who are not Niddot. Rav Moshe writes (in 1947) that one may assume that there is no question with girls below the age of eleven. Rav Moshe writes that men must be strict regarding girls older than the age of eleven, since there are girls who “nowadays” become Niddot at the age of eleven.

Source: http://www.tabc.org/kol-torah/article/index.aspx?pageaction=ViewSinglePublic&LinkID=712&ModuleID=43&StartDate=4/5/2013&NEWSPID=1 (alternate location: http://koltorah.org/ravj/The%20Parameters%20of%20Kol%20Isha.htm )


In theory you could skip it altogether!

Aryeh Frimer and others posit that it's a bad idea to have someone who can't lead the mandatory parts of prayers "lead services" for the optional parts -- those lines will get blurred quickly. They suggest the exception is chinuch (education) -- putting a ten-year-old boy up there for Anim Zemiros so that in 3 years he will be comfortable up there doing Mussaf.

By that logic, it would be inadvisable to have an underage girl do Anim Zemiros.

  • I think that in some Nusach Ashkenaz shuls this may be one of the reasons why they say Anim Zemiros at the beginning of Shacharit (before "Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit"). There are usually no kids in the shul near the beginning of davening, yet they have kids sing "En Kelokeinu". I can't tell you, offhand, why there is a difference with these two regarding having singing kids. – DanF May 7 '14 at 17:51
  • @DanF, if nothing else En Keolokenu has much simpler words to say, and also to understand. – Shalom May 7 '14 at 21:10
  • Agreed. But I think having kids say "Pitum Haktoret" immediately afterwards is a HUGE problem. Many adults have problems pronouncing and understanding it. I can almost guarantee that young kids aren't saying each word of it. How can they get to the ending phrase in about 10 seconds? – DanF May 7 '14 at 21:37

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