Between Pesach and Shavuos, as a people, we mourn the passing of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva. This is manifest through certain restrictions in our celebrations and simcha. Below is summary of those restrictions.
- We do not get married (although we may get engaged).
- We do not play or listen to musical instruments. (Singing is permissible.)
- Recordings of music, radio, etc., are likewise forbidden. (Recordings of singing, a cappella, etc., are permissible.)
- Haircuts and shaving are forbidden. (One whose livelihood will suffer because of not cutting or shaving oneâ€™s hair may be lenient.)
The laws above only represent a summary. There are complications and exceptions to the rules stated in this post. As with all halacha, one must endeavor to understand the spirit of the law, and apply this understanding to cases not mentioned. Donâ€™t hesitate to contact me (972-774-0813 or [email protected])Â with any questions or concerns.
Rabbi Akiva’s students died because they did not give proper respect to each other (Yevamos 62:). Therefore, the purpose of the restrictions during the sefirah period is for one to reflect upon one’s character traits, and one’s relations with others. The Torah was originally accepted in a spirit of extreme unity. It is this quality that we try to instill in ourselves and our families, as we prepare for Shavuos.
Rabbi Yaakov Rich