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Is it allowed for a Jew to whistle? If yes, is it even allowed on Shabbos? If no, why not? Has anyone ever heard that if one whistles at night, that it attracts sheidim and mazikin?

And what are the sources for any answer.

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    It is Muttar on Shabbos. For more Info see here: dailyhalacharabbimansour.blogspot.com/… (scroll to "Using a Doorknocker, Clapping, Banging and Whistling on Shabbat") Apr 9, 2010 at 21:08
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    There is a full answer here (#420): halachafortoday.com/questions-answers/qa9 Apr 9, 2010 at 21:21
  • Depends on whether you follow Askanaz or Sefard...So to put it another way, anytime we're asked this question (and many others as well), we should include the comment about the different nusachim. -- Many people forget this issue and just say "yes" or "no" on questions that vary.
    – Larry K
    Aug 16, 2012 at 14:10
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    Dirshu on the spot (OC 338) brings from sefer Orchos Shabbos 2:21:(60) in the name of Chazon Ish that nowadays even on weekdays it is not allowed to whistle because it is "pritzus".
    – Binyomin
    Nov 19, 2023 at 11:06
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    @RebChaimHaQoton My primary source is a Russian lady I used to work with. Her source is family tradition (they have lots of other similar traditions, such as all sitting down on the couch before leaving home, in order to confuse the demons). Nov 21, 2023 at 11:24

6 Answers 6

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It says clearly in Hilchos Shabbos that it is Muttar (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 338:1). I don't know of anybody who argues.

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There are videos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraging whistling by his farbrengens.


Edited to add some great links from the comments into the answer, as well as other sources:

Here is a picture of the Rebbe's often-used hand motion to signal for whistling.

Lubavitcher Rebbe holding two fingers to his face, to signal whistling

Here is a link to a first-hand account of the Rebbe encouraging someone to sing, along with a picture of the Rebbe giving the signal to whistle.

Here is a link to a video that includes many people whistling while the Rebbe urges them on, but no actual prompting from the Rebbe is shown. (Skip to the middle for the whistling).

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I had a high-school rebbe (sophisticated in both Jewish and worldly matters, by the way) who was very against whistling at any time, because he had learned from his rebbe (I forget who, unfortunately) that it would attract demons. He would say in Yiddish "Yidden fife nisht," or "Jews don't whistle." I don't remember him distinguishing between night and day.

After he'd told us that, I was once absentmindedly whistling in his presence, and he turned white and asked me to stop.

Sorry, I don't have any sources for you.

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    My brother-in-law, who I'm certain went to no Jewish school other than cheder, seems to have learned this belief from his parents and has quoted me that exact Yiddish expreession. Jan 14, 2013 at 22:29
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    Don't you think the popular European saying 'a yid fife nisht' is the source for the question?
    – user6591
    Jan 30, 2015 at 12:11
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R. Hershel Schachter records that old people from Europe would say that only non-Jews whistle and that it is especially forbidden on Shabbos due to the creation of sound, to which R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik pointed out that Shulchan Aruch O.C. 338 allows whistling on Shabbos so there is no problem of creating sound, and it would certainly be permitted during the week and is not a problem of following the ways of the non-Jews:

Divrei Harav p. 197

מרגלא בפומייהו דאינשי (יהודים זקנים מאירופה היו אומרים) שרק נכרים שורקים בפיהם (גויים פייפען) אבל לא יהודים ובמיוחד בשבת שיש איסור מטעם משמיע קול ורבנו העיר שבשו"ע או"ח (סי' של"ח) מבואר (בשם השלט"ג סוף מס' ערובין) שז"א דאף בשבת שרי ואין בו משום משמיע קול ק"ו בחול דשרי ואין בו משום חוקות עכו"ם (שמעתי מדודי הרמ"א מאזעסאן ז"ל

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    It's actually a Rema, not a Shulchan Aruch. Jun 16, 2018 at 18:19
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    @RebChaimHaQoton I am aware, and I am sure R. Soloveitchik was aware. I imagine he was using "Shulchan Aruch" in the colloquial sense to refer to the entire corpus of Mechaber + Rema.
    – Alex
    Jun 17, 2018 at 3:23
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For Sephardim: Allowed on Shabbat and other days, but not in public.

Source: Daily Halacha by R. Eli Mansour says

The Halachic authorities rule that whistling was not included at all in the decree against producing sounds on Shabbat, and one may thus whistle a tune on Shabbat. We should note that irrespective of the laws of Shabbat, whistling in public, such as while walking in the street, is improper and unbecoming of a Torah Jew. But if at home one wishes to whistle as background to the singing of Pizmonim (hymns) at the Shabbat table, this is certainly acceptable and permissible.

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Strictly speaking this is permitted (1), however it is impolite to do so in public. Nonetheless, some have written that based on Kabbalah this awakens harsh judgements (2).

(1) See C"O Shabbat 5 pg. 236; Yalkut Yosef Shabbat vol. 5 338:9; Orchot Shabbat 2:21:footnote 60; Shabbat Beshabbato page 327; Shut Masseh Efod 1:100.  (2) Rabbi Mazuz in the name of R' Nissan Pinson, as is brought in Magid Mesharim Parashat Achare Mot "Desherikot ramiz letukfa dedina". [M"B Ish Matzliach 338:note 1]

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