"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, council head of the religious Kibbutz Ma'ale Gilboa has determined, following the separation of girls and boys during the Bnei Akiva singing contest held in Givat Shmuel.
In his answer to a question sent to him following Ynet's coverage of the report, the rabbi explained that the Halacha (Jewish law) does not forbid listening to women singing, as long as the song is not intended for sexual provocation. Thus, he explained, religious girls may be permitted to pursue singing careers.
Rabbi Bigman said the innocence of a woman's song should be assessed according to five criteria: Propriety of atmosphere, lyrics, musical style, the woman's vestige, and her body language.
He stated that "there is no problem for the modest and pious of our girls to develop a singing career, even within popular culture, but without relinquishing the delicate foundations of the culture of the Torah and without cooperating with the vulgar commercial aspects of the culture surrounding us."
The rabbi also believes that the stance prohibiting women from listening to men's songs should be adopted, though it is not a halachic ruling. He also recommended that the generally accepted decree that allows the singing of two or more women together be abandoned, as it is "strained and not to be relied on solely."
Rabbi Bigman explained that he had decided to reconsider the subject of women's song because "the issue of 'the voice of a woman equals lewdness' has been discussed in differing contexts, especially in the answers of the great men of the recent generation, and yet has not been discussed in relation to the public that for many years has been easing restrictions under certain circumstances and allowing women to sing in public."
Another reason for the rabbi's reconsideration was spiritual necessity. According to Bigman, "Women of certain public sectors are so insulted by the decree prohibiting them from singing in public that they become estranged from Torah and mitzvah because of it."