Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Applications of Issur d'Rabanan of Avsha Milsa

I was discussing the issues surrounding the use of hearing aids on Shabbos with a close friend.  One concern is whether one is allowed to speak directly to a person wearing hearing aids on Shabbos.  Seeing my hesitancy to see any problem at all, my friend asked, "What if someone with a boom box on his shoulder sticks a microphone in your face?  Are you going to talk into that?  Huh?  Huh?  And isn't a hearing aid just a little bitty boom box with an itsy bitsy microphone?  Huh?  Huh?"  Somehow the people I hang with tend to use such black and white m'shalim.  (Often followed by a remark, usually by their wife who is rolling her eyes, "You have been hanging around Michael too much!"  The 10 year old boy in me loves that; especially the rolling eyes and tone of exasperation.)

So what is the issue and is there a problem?  Is there any difference between a micropone/boom box vs hearing aid?  What's the issur of using a microphone, anyway?

The root of the word "Shabbos" has nothing to do with resting.  It means a cessation of certain activities which the Torah has revealed to us are fundamental to the creation of this world.  By ceasing those activities, we testify that the world has a Creator.  Be that as it may (and is), Shabbos certainly is meant to (also) be a day of rest.  In order to preserve and enhance the experience of Shabbos, Chazal have established many g'zeiros, known as sh'vusim (plural of sh'vus).  Not all sh'vusim were created equal, however.

First, there is "uvda d'chol", aka, "not in the spirit of Shabbos".  For example, there is no issur to move your furniture on Shabbos, but to spend the entire day moving your furniture around is not likely to be very restful nor spiritually uplifting.  Everyone know, however, that there is a lot of flexibility in uvda d'chol.  Especially for parents who are trying to get a nap on Shabbos afternoon; anything that is either noisy or requires the participation of the parent gets labeled uvda d'chol.

Then there are real, live g'zeiros with real, live lists of detailed halachos.  Muktzeh, for example.  It's really assur to move muktzah (except under certain circumstances for certain categories of muktza, etc).  Avsha milsa (things that are really noisy) is another g'zeira.  Things that make noise draw attention.  The issur of avsha milsa includes anything that makes a lot of noise, starting it on Shabbos would be forbidden, and the noise usually starts when the activity is initiated.  That is, even if the activity was only set up to start on Shabbos -- so no actual m'lacha is done on Shabbos -- that activity is still forbidden.  Setting up a time to start a washing machine or dish washer on Shabbos, for example, is included in the issur or avsha milsa.  Lights on timers are not included; Chazal said noises that attract attention, not lights that attract attention; we don't make up nor even expand g'zeiros on our own.

So... the main issur with using a microphone with a PA system on Shabbos is that it makes a public noise (if it didn't it would be broken, after all).  Hearing aids obviously do not fall into this issur, so you are permitted to speak directly to the wearer.

But they use electricity!!!  Patience.  In the meantime, feel comfortable talking to your hard of hearing friend.  Lashon Hara, of course, is still forbidden.


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: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…