A recent question about Kol Isha got me thinking: why isn't there a similar "Kol Ish" prohibition against women hearing men sing?

If you've ever seen a teenage girl listening to pop music you'd know there's an attraction to a male voice.

I tried googling it and found nothing (besides an all-male acapella group called Kol Ish).

  • 2
    The halachos of hirhurim (inappropriate thoughts) are less clear-cut for women than they are for men because women do not necessarily have a physical reaction to those thoughts. Nevertheless, it seems logical to me that women should avoid things that cause them to have inappropriate thoughts just like men should. For most women singing doesn't do that so there's no general prohibition, but if a particular man's voice does cause a particular woman (not his wife) to have sexual thoughts about him it seems very reasonable that she shouldn't listen to him.
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 3:10
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    @Matt elaborating on what Daniel was saying the avoidance of sexual thoughts is to avoid "wasting seed". This does not happen with women and so there are few if any rules about their sexual thought. Also note that whether this prohibition of listening to the voice apply always or just when reciting shema was debated by rishonim. Though it's generally accepted now that its always.
    – Orion
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 5:23
  • Maybe it is worth to ask a more general question about a-symmetry in sexuality and attraction b/w men and women.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 7:22
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    So since women are incapable of "wasting seed" does that mean that female masturbation is not forbidden?
    – Matt
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 14:22
  • @Matt see judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/56810/… there are several links from there in the comments as well.
    – Orion
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 23:29

2 Answers 2


Sefer Chasidim 614

מכל מה שכתוב בשיר השירים צריך להזהר שלא ישמע קול אשה והוא הדין לאשה שלא תשמע קול איש. שמכל שהאיש מוזהר האשה מוזהרת.‏
One must be careful from anything in Shir Hashirim, to not hear a woman's voice, and the same law to a woman to not hear a man's voice, for anything that a man is warned against a woman is [also] warned against.

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    So you're suggesting that it is forbidden? Does anybody observe that guideline?
    – Matt
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 14:23
  • -1 I think your answer is very incomplete. So you did find someone saying it is forbidden. Kudos! We all know SH is far from being the ruling Halachah, so albeit you do show that some prohibit you don't say anything about why the real Halachah does differentiate between the two.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 19:13
  • @Al Berko Seems to work for Yevamot 84b. שהאשה מוזהרת על ידי האיש Well, sort of.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 12:16

On one level the answer may be that the derivative source for kol isha does not exist for kol ish. The issue of kol isha is presented in the Talmud (Berachot 24a) as follows:

א"ר יצחק טפח באשה ערוה למאי אילימא לאסתכולי בה והא א"ר ששת למה מנה הכתוב תכשיטין שבחוץ עם תכשיטין שבפנים לומר לך כל המסתכל באצבע קטנה של אשה כאילו מסתכל במקום התורף אלא באשתו ולק"ש אמר רב חסדא שוק באשה ערוה שנאמר גלי שוק עברי נהרות וכתיב תגל ערותך וגם תראה חרפתך אמר שמואל קול באשה ערוה שנא' כי קולך ערב ומראך נאוה אמר רב ששת שער באשה ערוה שנא' שערך כעדר העזים

R. Isaac said: A handbreadth [exposed] in a [married] woman constitutes sexual incitement. In which way? Shall I say, if one gazes at it? But has not R. Shesheth [already] said: Why did Scripture enumerate the ornaments worn outside the clothes with those worn inside? To tell you that if one gazes at the little finger of a woman, it is as if he gazed at her secret place! — No, It means, in one's own wife, and when he recites the Shema’. R. Hisda said: A woman's leg is a sexual incitement, as it says. Uncover the leg, pass through the rivers, and it says afterwards, Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen. Samuel said: A woman's voice is a sexual incitement, as it says, For sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely. R. Shesheth said: A woman's hair is a sexual incitement, as it says, Thy hair is as a flock of goats. (Soncino translation)

As you can see in the part that I bolded, the verse cited by Samuel only refers to the voice of a woman, not the voice of a man.

  • Wouldn't that same passage then suggest men shouldn't look at women's faces (at least, if their countenances are comely, or as I found in a more modern translation, their faces are lovely)?
    – Matt
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 3:15
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    @Matt That would be included in looking at even the little finger.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 3:18
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    It seems that your answer totally misses the point, because proving that Kol Ishah is forbidden says NOTHING about Kol Ish, maybe Gemmorah elsewhere says KI is also forbidden. I+1ed by mistake it but now I can't undo it.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 7:20
  • @AlBerko The point of my answer is not to prove that kol ishah is forbidden. The question assumes that there is a difference between men and women and wants to know why. My answer is that the scriptural source used for women is not applicable to men.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 13:56
  • @AlBerko I made an edit so that you can remove your upvote.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 13:59

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