Chief Sephardi rabbi allows music during 3 weeks for those in quarantine

Jews around the world follow mourning practices in the three weeks before Tisha Be’av, the day on which the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.

SEPHARDI CHIEF Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef
Those in quarantine due to coronavirus may listen to instrumental music during the traditional mourning period leading up to Tisha Be’av, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef ruled Monday.
Listening to instrumental music is usually prohibited during the mourning period leading up to Tisha Be’av, the day when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
“This year, to our great sorrow, the coronavirus spread to all corners of the world, and many are in their homes in quarantine, bringing mental stress and depression and great sorrow to the point that they can’t stay closed in their rooms,” Yosef said.
Since listening to calm songs would help those in quarantine deal with the situation and prevent them from going out and infecting others, “there is room to be lenient with them to listen to these songs,” he said.
If calm songs do not bring them comfort, further leniencies can be made to allow even upbeat music, Yosef said. He quoted the book Ben Yehoyada, which says: “In times of plague, one should be happy and reduce depression and mental stress, because this sorrow kills more souls than the plague itself.”
Yosef clarified that the leniency only applies if the music is recorded and the artist is not seen, even in a video. People in quarantine should only listen with headphones and not have other people who are not in the same mental state listen with them. Those in quarantine who feel the need to listen to instrumental music should listen to calm music and only listen to upbeat music if they need to. Those who do not need to hear music to feel at ease should not listen to music, he said.
Recorded children’s songs may be played for children in quarantine if there is no other way to keep them busy and calm, Yosef said.
Yeshiva students who are learning in capsules and cannot return home may listen to music if necessary through headphones, he said.
Ashkenazi Jews begin some forms of mourning on the fast of the 17th of Tamuz, three weeks before Tisha B'Av. Many Sephardim do not begin mourning practices until the Saturday night before Tisha Be’av.
The traditional mourning practices include not listening to music, not having weddings, refraining from meat and wine and not shaving or cutting one’s hair.