- Question: [Wednesday, 26th Nisan, 5782]
I have a whole bunch of little kids at home and it is very difficult to keep them occupied without music? For example, they are used to watching uncle Moishe videos with music which keeps them occupied. May I play this for them even during Sefira?
This depends on the age of the child. Very young children who are below the age of Chinuch may have music or a music video such as uncle Moishe put on for them in order to keep them occupied. However, for children who are already above the age of Chinuch, one is to be stringent, unless it is a time of real need and is necessary for the sanity of the home. The age of Chinuch in this regard is defined as an age of maturity in which the child understands the mourning period and it’s reason and purpose.
Regarding mourning laws applicable after the passing of a relative, we rule that they do not have to be followed by children below the age of bar and bas mitzvah. However, mourning laws that are applicable to the public due to tragic occurrences are applicable even to children. Thus, just like adults may not listen to music during the period of Sefira in which we mourn the passing of the students are Rabbi Akiva, so too, children also may not listen to music. Nonetheless, children who are below the age of Chinuch do not need to be stringent in this matter especially when it is for the sake of keeping them occupied, and not simply for them to rejoice. Furthermore even children are above the age of Chinuch, although they are not initially to listen to music, if it is necessary for the sake of the sanity of the home to keep them calm and occupied then there is room to be lenient to put on a music video for them such as uncle Moishe, as the main restriction against listening to music is only when it is done for purposes of rejoicing and not when done for ulterior purposes.
Sources:; See regarding that children are exempt from Aveilus restrictions after the loss of a relative r”l: Michaber Y.D. 396:3; Tur in name of Rosh; Shach in Nekudos Hakesef 340:15 based on Rosh and Tur and Michaber 396; M”A 551:38; Rokeiach Aveilus 314; Degul Merivava 340; Yad Avraham 381; Beis Hillel 381 based on Rashi Taanis 12b; Levushei Serud 340:15; Chochmas Adam 152:17; Pischeiy Teshuvah 340:10; Igros Moshe 1:124; Nitei Gavriel 105:25; and many Poskim in 127 footnote 1; See Pnei Baruch 25 footnote 9 See Pnei Baruch 25; Nitei Gavriel 127 See regarding that children who are of age of Chinuch are nonetheless to follow mourning restrictions for the destruction of the temple and Sefira: M”A 551:31 “It is implied that it is permitted to give meat and wine to a child this week [of Tishe Beav], as to begin with they were not accustomed to be stringent with a child, however only if he is not of age of mourning” based on Rama 551:10 who permits giving wine of Havdalah to child, and based on Hagahos Maimanis Minhagei Av 59, as explained in Machatzis Hashekel ibid [The M”A ibid negates the argument that the Rama’s allowance is limited to when there is a Mitzvah need involved in the eating or drinking, and proves that it applies in all cases]; Makor Chaim 551:9; Chayeh Adam 133:16; Divreiy Yatziv 2:236; Chanoch Lanaar 21 footnote 5; Or Letziyon 1:33; Yalkut Yosef; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:41 [that this applies even according to the M”B brought next]; See Nitei Gavriel 38:1; See regarding the definition of the age of Chinuch: M”A ibid; Chayeh Adam ibid; All Poskim ibid in first footnote, and so agrees: Or Letziyon 1:33; Yalkut Yosef; Divreiy Yatziv 2:236 regarding chicken; See regarding the general prohibition against listening to music during Sefira: Aruch Hashulchan 493:2; Igros Moshe 1:166; 3:87; Minchas Yitzchak 1:111; Kinyan Torah 2:99; Yechaveh Daas 3:30; Mishneh Halachos 8:188; Az Nidbaru 10:23; Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:13; 493:4; See regarding that this prohibition of listening to music also applies to children: Igros Moshe 4:21-4; Likkutei Sichos 37 p. 122; Koveitz Mibeis Levi 1:57; Halichos Bas Yisrael 24:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 493 footnote 37; Nitei Gavriel 53:4-5 and footnotes 8-9; See regarding allowance for children who are below the age of Chinuch to listen to music: Igros Moshe 4:21-4; Halichos Bas Yisrael 25:4; Nitei Gavriel 53: 5 and footnote 9; See regarding the allowance to listen to music for ulterior purposes and not for the sake of joy: So is understood from all Poskim who rule a musician may play for gentiles due to that for him it is not for pleasure. [See P”M 551 A”A 10; Kitzur SH”A 122:1; Ben Ish Chaiy Devarim 5; Biur Halacha 551 “Mematin”; Kaf Hachaim 551:39; Igros Moshe 3:87; Kinyan Torah 2:99] So is also understood from M”A 560:9; and Sota 49a regarding the allowance to sing during laborious work in order to hasten their work ability. One may thus listen to music for therapeutic purposes: See Shevet Halevi 8:127 “Especially the women who do so to remove their depression, and it is permitted” [however it is unclear if he refers to during the year or even during Bein Hametzarim, although, in truth the reason of the Heter should apply during all times]; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 493 footnote 36; Chelkas Yaakov 1:61 and 3:98 regarding Shabbos; See Sefer “Eileh Heim Moadaiy” 3:63-65 for a discussion from Poskeiy Zemaneinu on this matter