Is it permitted to listen to music during sefira while isolating at home to help uplift the spirits of my family and children who’ve been home for over a month due to the CoronaVirus?
The importance of music in terms of elevating the spirit cannot be underestimated. At the same time the prohibition against music during the time of sefira should not be taken lightly either.
Thus, the prohibition against music should be observed properly regardless of the general circumstances. However, in the in the following situations one may be lenient in playing or listening to music during this time:
* Where one is suffering from anxiety
* The music is played for young children
* One who is unwell and the music can calm him or her and motivate their general well-being
* One who is quarantined (this doesn’t include the general lockdown that certain states have imposed upon their residents).
* One who has suicidal tendencies or thoughts
There’s even more room to be lenient in all of the above-mentioned cases prior to Rosh Chodesh Iyar.
In any situation which does not fit into the above criteria, where one feels that music is an important factor in helping their general well-being, one should consult a Rav on an individual case by case basis.
One more point: While it’s important to take into account the positive effect playing music has during this time, we must also be cognizant of the negative repercussions this may have in terms of the Chunuch of the family when they discover that some rules is fall by the wayside due to the current outbreak. They need to understand that Halacha is a strong as always and any leniency is only based on very specific circumstances and as per the guidance of a Rav.
It must also be noted that the original prohibition against celebrations, haircuts and music etc. during the days of the Omer was originally instituted due to a plague at the time. The Poskim mention many other similar tragedies that happened during these days. Indeed, many seforim explain that the days of Omer possess the aspect of din, severity, and the Rebbe adds that this could have been one of the triggering factors to that which occurred. When we’re experiencing unfortunately similar occurrences in our times during the same time, we ought to be extra careful in this matter and not attempt to seek leniencies, other than that which was described above.
Nonetheless, the prohibition against music wasn’t intended in order to cause melancholy or depression; rather to remind us of the tragedies we experienced so that we take heed and increase our mitzvos and massim tovim .Now, in a time like this it is extremely important to increase in happiness and keep as far away as possible from depression and sadness. Earlier poskim mention the importance of pushing away any form of depression during a time of a plague and how one’s state of mind is an extremely important factor in battling this issue. Thus, if the lack of music isn’t only inconvenient, annoying or difficult — which it is meant to be— but one is concerned that it causes them to lose their simcha in avodas Hashem, and might lead to worry, sadness or dejection chas vsholom, even if not outright depression, they may listen to music during these times. We need to however assess ourselves properly whether we’re just looking for an excuse to listen to music or there is a legitimate concern. If one is unsure, they may be lenient.