Are Jews Against Whistling?

June 22, 2022 | by

I see a lot of Orthodox Jews object to whistling. Do you know any reason why?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

There is no issue in Jewish law with whistling. In fact, it’s brought down that a person can whistle on Shabbat since it does not resemble the decree against playing music instruments on Shabbat (Rema to Shulchan Aruch O.C. 338:1).

Nevertheless, some authorities considered it an inappropriate behavior for Jews. There is a common Jewish perception that whistling is behavior typical of non-Jews, indicating an overly carefree manner. (“Goyim fayfen” – non-Jews whistle, or: “A Yid fayf nisht” – Jews don’t whistle.) There is even a superstition (not necessarily Jewish, though well-known to Jews) that it attracts demons. So although there is no real issue with whistling, especially if you are not doing it as a sign of a lightheaded, easygoing manner, it has always carried with it somewhat of a negative association for Jews.

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