How should one act halachically if he invites not so observant female family members (specifically mother in law) at the shabbat table and they start singing.

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    There's no issue of kol isha by d'varim shebikdusha FWIW. – Scimonster May 13 '15 at 20:28
  • @Scimonster what you mean by devarim sheb'. even shabbat zemirot? – ray May 13 '15 at 20:29
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    I assume there would be a distinction between one's mother (for example) and one's mother in law. – Fred May 13 '15 at 20:30
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    @Scimonster I wouldn't call it "no issue." At most, I would say there are some who permit. – Fred May 13 '15 at 20:30
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    @ray How is that simple? What is asur? I don't understand. Sing along and enjoy your Shabbat. I don't know how anyone can answer this when you haven't even formulated the scope of this alleged prohibition. Unbinding VTC as unclear. – Double AA May 13 '15 at 21:41

There's nothing you can do. Just don't pay attention to her voice (assuming, for the sake of the question, that your Rov holds kol isha is forbidden even for Shabbos zemiros). If you tell her to stop, or even hint, that would be perceived as rude, and it would alienate her from Yiddishkeit and perhaps prevent her from coming closer to observance. If she becomes more observant, she will learn on her own.

This is standard kiruv practice. Can you imagine a Chabad rabbi or rebbetzin telling the women in a Chabad house shul to stop singing? They would never do such a thing, because they know it is counterproductive. Sometimes one has to sacrifice one's own stringency for the sake of someone else's growth (The Gutnick Chumash discusses this idea.) (I understand that this is not a matter of a chumra but of different halachic opinions of differing stringency.)

In addition, correcting your mother-in-law in front of your wife is never a good idea, since your wife will likely get angry and take her side. Source for most of the above: the "Fifth Book of the Shulchan Aruch" (Common Sense).

Note that in a similar situation, when in the Israeli army troops had to attend a concert with kol isha, some rabbis (such as Lazer Brody, if I remember correctly) advised religious soldiers to simply tune it out and ignore it rather than getting up and leaving and thus causing a scene.

I would make an exception to the above advice for someone who is reasonable certain they can mention the issue (perhaps not on Shabbos or if it comes up in conversation) so that she learns about kol isha, without offending her or alienating her from Judaism. If that is the case, then he could do so.

If your rabbi holds that this type of kol isha should be avoided at all costs, regardless of other considerations, then don't invite them, or find a polite way to inform her about kol isha. An intermediate alternative would be to sing wordless niggunim or songs without pesukim, to avoid reciting pesukim in the presence of ervah.

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    Maybe you shouldn't start songs? Maybe you should start nay-nay-nay-ing instead of saying words of pesukim? Maybe you should let your wife get angry and divorce her (w/o Ketuba) if she continues violating Das Yehudis? Maybe you shouldn't invite your in-laws over? – Double AA May 14 '15 at 1:17
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    Maybe, just maybe, your mother-in-law is a reasonable person and actually respects her son-in-law has his way of Judaism and she'll listen to you in your presence? – Double AA May 14 '15 at 1:21
  • Well, many poskim permit one to invite nonobservant Jews to a Shabbos meal even if they would drive, because the special ambiance of a Shabbos meal often brings people closer to Yiddishkeit. Since singing is part of the typical Shabbos meal experience, then according to that logic, perhaps one should start singing even if the female guests will sing audibly. I don't understand why a wordless niggun would be preferable. I think it's obvious that following the most stringent kol isha opinion is not worth divorcing or ruining Shalom Bayis over. – Kordovero May 14 '15 at 1:24
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    Even if one gets the psak that it's assur, the existence of other more lenient opinions, particularly for group singing of religious songs, is a good reason to be lenient for the sake of kiruv and shalom bayis. I assumed for the sake of the question that the Rav holds kol isha in collective religious singing to be assur, but not necessarily that the rabbi holds it must be avoided at all costs.) One can believe something is assur in the abstract yet follow a more lenient opinion under extenuating circumstances. – Kordovero May 14 '15 at 1:36
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    @Kordovero Certainly those are all possibilities. If you would like to make a value judgement in any direction such as that you should be explicit that it is your own personal thoughts on the matter, not a given. – Double AA May 14 '15 at 1:47

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