Why I only listen to acapella during the Omer

The time between Pesach and Shavuot is a time of mourning for the Jewish community, marking the loss of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva.

We are meant to refrain from listening to music, cutting our hair, or going to weddings.

I’m gonna talk a bit about listening to music. I listen to music a lot. When I’m at my desk, my earphones are in, big fan of Spotify. So when I sat down after the Passover break ready to catch up on my Discover playlist I quickly caught myself and realised I should really only be listening to acapella.

Now the thing is, if you ask the right person or look around enough, you will generally find the answer you want. I’m naturally halachically permissive. I look for leniencies, loopholes or whatever and if I can find a halachic green light I’ll drive on through.

It’s obviously a bit more nuanced than this, but it’s the gist of things.

So when it comes to music there are many leniencies out there. If you want me to hook you up, be in touch.

Yet I don’t use them.

I’ve been trawling Spotify for acapella for a good few weeks now. Lots of Christmas music.

So why don’t I use them.

Well, it’s like the only thing that I can connect to regarding the mourning period of the Omer.

Not haircuts, SUITS ME FINE. Haircuts are such a hassle, as is shaving.

I’m sure my clean shaving brethren find it uncomfortable, but I don’t. I embrace it.

Then weddings. I love a good wedding. Nice little shindig. I get why we don’t have weddings, as it is sure to lead to a level of joy that isn’t suitable during a mourning period. But I don’t really miss weddings. I can’t say I go to that many weddings anymore either, so it doesn’t really come up. I don’t get to engage with that part of the restriction.

But music, music is really when I can connect. It’s about connecting to this time of year and what it means.

You see it happened a long time ago, but the causes of it are still prevalent in the Jewish community today. Can we really connect to what happened 2,000 years ago? It’s not so easy, hence the ritual mourning. But our community still suffers from the same cause. We don’t treat each other with sufficient respect. We gossip, we slander, we judge. But we plug in our earphones and crack on as if nothing is wrong.

It’s all well and good not having a haircut, but it misses the point if you complain about it over a coffee with some friends before engaging in some friendly “banter” poking fun at someone.

So whatever we can find to help us work on this can only good for ourselves and each other.

(I’m not saying I try to connect to all observances like I do to this one. Or that you should only listen to acapella, you do you, that’s cool!)