Many Poskim who permit listening of music year-round prohibit it during the Omer and the Three Weeks. Is it ok to watch American Idol during these periods of time, according to the opinions who permit it during the rest of the year?

  • 10
    Is it ever ok??
    – Seth J
    Apr 25, 2012 at 19:29
  • This question would be much improved if it contained an explanation of why it might be forbidden.
    – msh210
    Apr 25, 2012 at 23:20
  • 2
    I think it would be better if it contained an explanation of why it might be forbidden specifically during the 'Omer. The assumption that it is ok the rest of the year is not one I necessarily agree or disagree with, but the distinction needs to be clarified.
    – Seth J
    Apr 26, 2012 at 14:06
  • 1
    @HodofHod I love how that typo wasn't caught for over 2 years :)
    – Double AA
    Jul 9, 2012 at 17:12

3 Answers 3


Not having a television, and not being a big music guy anyways, I've only seen bits of the program at my fathers house while it was on, and that was many years ago. Nevertheless from memory and/or assumption I would suggest the following issues:

  1. T.V. in and of itself isn't so poshut (simple, i.e. it isn't a given that it is permitted in the first place, I have my own question on this which people have helped out a lot, but not quite driven home).

  2. Kol Ishah, a television program is going to fall under this category even according to some of the poskim who are lenient with recorded voice because there is the visual component with television.

  3. Such performances are generally accompanied by dances which are, usually if not always, provocative and inappropriate. It is not at all clear that women are allowed to watch even other women behave in an inappropriate way.

  4. The Shulchan Aruch, chapter 302 I believe, prohibits reading works such as "Emanuel" which lead to inappropriate thoughts, many songs are going to deal with romantic themes which are not appropriate for men or women.

  5. There are many leniencies people practice during the Sefirah, but there are I believe (I know with regard to the three weeks there are) those poskim who feel you should be machmir to begin with.

This might be a good time to put in an additional reminder to ask your rabbi for questions about how to act in practice.

  • 1
    It would be good to consult with your Rav because he might tell that the halakhah is more lenient than you had otherwise assumed. Apr 25, 2012 at 18:59
  • @ShmuelBrin - Een hachi nami. But I said that because most people nowadays are so chumrah-oriented that they think everything is assur, and you see people increasingly want to disobey their posek (or poseket) who say something is muttar because they are afraid of secular culture. That is why the machmir segments of Orthodoxy are growing. It is not very religious to be more religious than your rabbi! :-D Apr 25, 2012 at 19:05
  • 1
    "Many years ago"? It's not like it's that old of a show.
    – Seth J
    Jul 9, 2012 at 2:06
  • @SethJ, again, I'm no expert but according to wikipedia it has been a decade since the show first aired.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Jul 11, 2012 at 22:24
  • 1
    Wow, where have I been?
    – Seth J
    Jul 11, 2012 at 22:37

I thought Rav Ovadiah's opinion was that non-live Kol Isha was only a problem if you knew the singer personally; I hadn't heard about the visual component. (No pun intended.) But I could me mistaken.

Let's ask the following question: if your practice is to watch American Idol when it's not Sefira, should anything change because of Sefira?

The answer as I see it: certain customs were adopted by the American Jewish community for sefira. These include avoiding music and movie theaters. (My guess is the latter descended from a custom not to attend live theaters.) To the best of my knowledge, the custom never extended to TV. I've never heard of someone who would watch a TV show when it's not Sefira, but avoided it during Sefira because of its background music. American Idol is a good question because (arguably) the music is the main part of the show. My sense is even so, we never accepted a custom against "TV shows", so Sefira shouldn't change anything.

Of course, if someone wants to watch less television as a way of religious improvement during this period, that's wonderful.

I'm surprised no one yet argued that it should certainly be permitted to listen to certain contestants, as what they're producing isn't "music", and your first reaction would be to cringe and moan, not clap and dance! :)

  • Would it matter, according to your last thought, at what point in the season it was?
    – Bas613
    Apr 19, 2010 at 14:26
  • Update: I spoke with Rabbi Moshe Bleich. He said he DOES know of people who turn off the TV volume during Sefira, and according to all the original sources of which he knows, the problem is only music, so it would be okay to go watch a live drama (assuming it's otherwise kosher). My comment still stands -- I think normative American Centrist Orthodox practice has become "not to go to theaters" during Sefira.
    – Shalom
    May 17, 2010 at 11:54
  • "Of course, if someone wants to watch less television as a way of religious improvement during this period, that's wonderful." @Shalom - Isn't it better, or more "religious," if you will, to engage in this world l'shem shamayim than to disengage from it? Apr 25, 2012 at 19:02
  • 1
    @AdamMosheh - Do you consider watching more TV an ideal way to "engage in this world"? Apr 25, 2012 at 20:15
  • @TorasEMES613 - Yes, it can be. Want me to elaborate? Apr 25, 2012 at 20:52

If you are male, and you that hold not live Kol-Eesha is not ok, than definitely no.

  • 6
    Your answer only applies to men.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 16, 2010 at 1:38
  • Rav Ovadia Yosef holds that not live Kol-Isha is only okay if you can't see her and do not know who she is. Rav J. D. Bleich writes that no responsible posek would permit actual Kol-Isha, which AI is according to Rav Yosef.
    – Yahu
    Apr 16, 2010 at 7:14
  • But aren't there male performers who sing for shows like American Idol? Apr 25, 2012 at 19:00
  • @Yahu Rav Ovadia is lenient even if you see her (but says to be stringent)and his son even brings a Yesh Omrim that even if you know her it would be permitted (Halichot Olam vol. 1 pg. 124 and Yalkut Yosef). Jul 9, 2013 at 13:34

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