Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Shomei'a k'Ona

I got a beautiful lesson in mesora on the eve of the first Pesach after my second daughter began walking.  We were about to begin b'dikas chameitz and here older sister began explaining the events of the evening -- the candle, the feather, looking for bit of bread.  Very cute and heartwarming.  Then I thought again and realized that my eldest (the expert) had only seen this ceremony twice before over a quarter of her life ago!  That gave me an inkling of the power of the "ceremonies" that Chazal have given us.

One the of (few though they may be) advantages of starting to learn about Judaism as an adult, on the other hand, is that you have words.  As you are learning how to function as a Jew, you are also learning a vocabulary to go with it.  Case in point: "shomei'a k'ona" -- hearing is like saying.  I know what the verb ayin-nun-hei means in modern hebrew (though it can also mean to testify; cf Inbal, "Modern Hebrew/English/American Dictionary"), but for Chazal the word means more like "proclaim"; as in "lechem oni" -- breads over which a lot of things are said; as in u'va l'tzion wherein the angels "onim v'omrim" -- proclaim and say.  Perhaps a better translation of "shomei'a k'ona" would be "he who harkens to his fellow shall be accredited to have accomplished with his careful listening all that his fellow has accomplished".  Yuch.  Let's just stick with "shomei'a k'ona" and be done with it.

Whether you have heard the expression or not, it is something we regularly use.  Kiddush every Friday night, for example.  Every Jew -- men and women -- have an obligation sanctifiy the Sabbath with a proclamation, yet it is common for only one person to actually say the "kiddush".  How does that work?  Shomei'a k'ona; everyone one listening has intent to have their obligation fulfilled by the recitation of the m'kadesh (who likewise has intent to fulfill their obligation, as well as his own).  We also rely on this principle for k'rias megilla; one person reads and the rest of us listen.  Note, by the way, if the reader dozes off for a few moments and then continues -- no problem; he said and heard all the words.  If the listener dozes off for a few moments -- big problem, since he now hasn't heard all the words.

Shomei'a k'ona only works when the mitzvah is to accomplish some purpose in the proclamation, but not when the mitzvah is to actually say the words.  That is why shomei'a k'ona does not work for k'rias shma.  There the mitzva is to actually say the words, not just proclaim the message.  There is a discussion about whether the mitzvah of counting s'fira means you actually have to say the count; better to be stringent and count yourself.  To be yotzi the bracha, of course, you certainly can rely on shomei'a k'ona.

There is a somewhat similar concept, "kol yisrael areivim ze la'ze" (all Jews are guarantors for each other); but that is a horse of  a different color and a topic for another day.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…