May Gentiles Play Music For Jews On Shabbat?

This no longer happens in Orthodox life (it has generally been forbidden since the destruction of the temple in 70).

In his first lecture for Torah in Motion on the Ben Ish Chai (Baghdadi rabbi in the 19th Century, handled business for the Sassoon family), Marc B. Shapiro says:

“There was a custom in Baghdad on the Shabbos after someone’s wedding, he was accompanied to the synagogue singing and dancing accompanied by non-Jews playing musical instruments.”

“The Shulchan Aruch is explicit that you can have non-Jews play music at wedding celebrations on Shabbos. If any of us tried that, we’d be [called] Reformers.”

“Let me give an example from my town with my family four weeks ago. This is an uncontested halacha. There aren’t many halachot that aren’t contested. This is in the Shulchan Aruch. All the commentaries agree. A boy under bar mitzvah can get maftir (except for parasha Zachor and Paroah) — he can get the aliyah, read the Torah and read the haftorah.”

“My son, who is 11 years old, and wanted to learn his parasha early, and we asked the rabbi and he said ok, but we don’t want to do it in the main shul, people won’t understand, do it in the side minyan… For Sephardim, a five year old can lein (recite) the Torah.)”

“It was the practice in Europe that on bar mitzvah, the boy would get an aliyah. He wouldn’t lein… Then people got the idea that he should do more… This led the average person to think that you need to be bar mitzvah to do the haftorah, which is not true.”

“In America, you have a lot of people who dress haredi who are really religious Zionists.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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