Question & Answer With Yoni Lipshutz Of Simply Tsfat - Music During Sefira
A Simple Jew asks:
During Sefira music is distilled down to its essence; a simple melody without instrumental accompaniment.
Is there a deeper meaning that we can derive from the fact that we are prohibited to listen to instrumental music and only permitted to listen to vocal music in these days before Shavuos when we prepare to receive the Torah anew?
Yoni Lipshutz of Simply Tsfat answers:
Sorry I thought about it and looked around but didn't come up with anything. I guess putting it simply, Sfiras haOmer is a time of mourning, so no music, it's that simple.
On a higher plain, prophecy can't occur unless one is in a happy state of being. An example is Yaakov Avinu when he thought that his son Yosef had died.
Rebbe Nachman says that music comes from the same place as prophecy, under the kisay haKavod, so the implication by association is that music can't occur either, unless in a happy state of being.
When Yaakov was told of Yosef being alive, he was told in song, and with his happiness his ability to prophesize returned.
Regarding vocal music as opposed to instrumental, the voice is part of the body as opposed to an external instrument. The voice is connected to the heart and lungs and this is the prayer most desired, the prayer of the heart. When using an instrument, it is possible to "perform", in other words, put on a show. But when singing, you almost need to use your whole body, especially your heart and this one cannot fake too easily. So during a time of mourning, we need to purify our prayer and thoughts and not put on a show... Just some thoughts....
Yoni Lipshutz's posting "A Return to the Violin" can be read here.