By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times
“Hey, I thought you are keeping the first Zman.”
“So, you can’t listen to that – if you are keeping the first Zman.”
“What? It’s Yom Tov! You are not allowed to visibly mourn on Yom Tov. So, I can listen to it.”
“Why is that visibly mourning? – Just don’t listen.”
The above conversation has taken place hundreds of times in cities throughout the world. Now during the Corona Shut-in it is less, but we must still ask:
What is actually the halacha?
The Shulchan Aruch discusses some of the customs of Sefirah in Orech Chaim 493:1. There, however, he only discusses the issues of getting married and of getting haircuts. The Mogain Avrohom, however, discusses music and dancing.
The issue, of whether one may do so on Chol HaMoed it seems, is a debate between Rav Elyashiv zatzal as cited in his Hagaddah and Rav Vosner zt”l. Rav Elyashiv permits music on Chol HaMoed Sfira – while Rav Vosner forbids it. The Pri Magadim in his Mishbetzes HaZahav also forbids it and the Kaf HaChaim cites the Pri Magadim authoritatively.
The minhag among Klal Yisroel seems to follow the view of Rav Elyashiv zt”l. This might be especially true now – because we do have to worry about the mental health of so many people.
HACHNASAS SEFER TORAH
By the same token, Rav Vosner zt”l and Rav Elyashiv zt”l argued about whether one can play music at a hachnasas Sefer Torah during Sefirah. Rav Vosner ruled not to do so (see Kovetz Bais HaLevi Vol. I) and Rav Elyashiv permitted it (Kovetz Halachos).
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