Not just veiled

I happened to stumble upon this lovely link this morning.

Q. Why does Jewish law object to women singing in front of men?

A. The rule derived from the Talmud (Ber. 24a etc.) is kol b’ishah ervah – “A woman’s voice arouses (desire)”.

Charming, isn’t it?

The rabbi goes on to point out that this is not an exclusively Jewish form of sexism.

It is not only Judaism that has a problem with female voices. A French writer, discussing the opera and its music, says, “She who sings must die”… Men both want and don’t want to hear the female voice, and several religions, not just Judaism, seek to control it.

Women, you see, aren’t allowed to have anything a man might want. It’s just like how it’s so sinful and immoral to display fresh produce in a grocery store—a man might be hungry, and want to eat some of it without paying for it. And naturally it’s absurd to think a man could or should control his own appetites. What kind of godless culture do you come from, anyway?

Don’t worry, though. This is not merely misogyny. It’s messianic misogyny.

Though many translations render ervah as “lustful” or “impure”, deriving it from ur, “to be bare”, I recommend a translation which links the word with a verb that means to awaken or arouse: there is a form of this verb in L’chah Dodi when we say Hit’orari, from a root which is also spelled ayin-vav-resh, to wake. The passage calls upon Zion to awaken at the coming of the Messiah.

So women should not sing in front of men because Messiah, somehow. Or else he’s just embarrassed by the primitive chauvinism of his own religion, and wants desperately to try and change the subject. I know I would.


  1. Ed says

    Yes, anyone who admires a person’s singing voice automatically wants to have sex with them.

    Do women who hear a woman sing automatically become lesbians?

  2. grumpyoldfart says

    I can understand the leaders spouting that nonsense. They are control freaks who are always going to throw their weight around. The thing that surprises me is that the common herd listen to such idiocy and then go along with it!

  3. aziraphale says

    The French writer he quotes is Catherine Clement, a feminist and a woman. So the Rabbi regards a feminist woman as authoritative on these matters?. That’s…..unusual.

    In any case, it’s clear that Clement doesn’t approve of all those women dying on stage. For her, it’s an example of what’s wrong with the world. See

  4. says

    Interesting: women do die a lot in Opera. It goes right back to Dafne (often considered the first opera, and occasionally considered the last good one), which ends with her being en-laurel-treed as an alternative to rape.

  5. sumdum says

    Judging from that wikipedia article it seems to me that french writer was probably making an observation rather than a judgement call. Very different. Way to quote out of context mr rabbi.

  6. steve78b says

    So, … if I have this straight…..

    In the Jewish culture and in Islam and seems like every other religion…

    men cannot control themselves so women must be muzzled, silenced, pushed to the back of the bus.

    Why do we put up with this crap?

    There are real men who aren’t frightened/greatly bothered by wome….. RIGHT??

    Steve in OK

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