Sunday, 18 April 2021

Chazzanus During the Sefira

Question: I find that music really relaxes me and find it very difficult not to listen to music during the sefira. Can I listen to chazzanus?

Answer: The Gemara (Yevamos 62b) teaches that 24,000 students of R’ Akiva died between Pesach and Shavuos. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 493:1) writes that we observe certain mourning practices during this time. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 493:1) adds that this has been intensified by the tragedies of the Crusades that ravaged European communities in more recent times.

While there is no mention in the Shulchan Aruch of the prohibition on listening to music during the sefira, the Magen Avraham (493:1) writes clearly that one must not dance during this time. As music and dancing are often synonymous, R’ Moshe Feinstein writes (Igros Moshe YD 2:137) that it has become the prevalent minhag to refrain from listening. Likewise, the Aruch Hashulchan writes (OC 493:2) that while engagement parties are permitted, there must be no musical accompaniment. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 1:111) stresses the importance of this restriction and brings sources to demonstrate that refraining from listening to music is not a new minhag.

R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 15:33) writes that the prohibition does not just apply to live music but applies equally to recorded music too.

Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 6:34) and R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Moadim 2:11:14; 2:14:3) write that one may listen to chazzanus or recordings of davening being sung.

In conclusion, one may listen to chazzanus during the sefira.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Walking During the Amida

Question: I was davening without my Siddur and realised that I may have said mashiv haruach accidentally. Was I allowed to walk to get a siddur to look up the halacha in the middle of my amida?

Answer: The Mishna (Berachos 20b) teaches how one must conduct oneself when davening the amida, not even interrupting to respond to a (Jewish) king’s greeting (See Shulchan Aruch OC 104:1).

Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (104:1) writes that if one is distracted by a child who is crying and one cannot motion to them to quieten them, one may move away to complete their amida. Likewise, he writes (96:7; 104:2) that if one gets confused while davening they may walk to get a siddur. The Chayei Adam (25:9) writes that it is even permissible to ask somebody the appropriate halacha if necessary.

R’ Chaim Kanievsky (quoted in Dirshu Mishna Beura 104:n8; Ishei Yisrael Teshuva 115) adds that once one has found the siddur or appropriate sefer, they should continue davening  immediately, rather than walk back to their original place.

In conclusion, one who cannot continue davening their amida due to not knowing the appropriate halacha or text may walk over to find a siddur or sefer in order to continue. If necessary, they may even ask someone. Afterwards, they should immediately continue where they left off.