Women Can Sing, Officially

For anyone who missed the public outcry last week about the Israeli youth group Bnei Akiva’s new single-sex policy on their yearly singing contest — I know, pretty much everyone in the universe — catch up, read the article, and come back.

Back? Good.

Now, the good news is spreading through the land like the sound of — well, like the sound of women’s voices. “Restrictions can be eased on listening to a woman singing when there is a clear assessment of innocent listening to innocent song,” Rabbi David Bigman is quoted as saying on YNet, explaining a statement in the Talmud (or overturning it, depending on your position) that says “The voice of a woman is Ervah [lit. nudity], as the verse [in Song of Songs 2:14] states ‘let me hear your voice because your voice is pleasant and appearance attractive.'”

Rashi, in his commentary on the situation, says that a woman’s voice is inherently attractive to a man, and, therefore, he shouldn’t listen to them. A plethora of alternate readings follow, which you can read about if you want…although I’d recommend checking out the ever-reliable Stereo Sinai, who sum up the arguments well, and who first pointed out this article. They make the coolest band bumper stickers EVER. Buy one now.

Discover More

Women in the Bible

In the Bible, women are sometimes portrayed as men's equals and other times as men's subordinates — or property.

Women in Rabbinic Literature

The rabbis of the Talmud designated specific female roles and activities, and were wary of women's nature, but they also tempered biblical laws that caused hardships for women.

Overview: Women in Traditional Jewish Sources

What the Bible, Talmud and other classic texts say about women and their roles.