Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Distinguishing Two Voices and Bitul

I always hate when a sefer has emblazoned all across the front, sides, and back: Do not take anything in this sefer as halacha l'ma'aiseh.  We are just kidding.  (Ok.. they don't usually add that last bit; but it's certainly implied.. or at lest inferred... at least by me.)  I would never do such a thing.  On the other hand, I am in no danger whatsoever of being taken seriously.  I guess that might make a difference...

Talking about hearing aids, there is an issue that has nothing to do with Shabbos or Yom Tov; namely, being yotzi one's obligation via the "shomei'a k'onah" (hearing is like saying) channel.  Minchas Shlomo, after a fair amount of pilpul and analysis, comes to the conclusion that hearing the sound generated by a hearing aid -- no matter how much it mimics and parallels the incoming sound -- just isn't the same sound that was generated from the source.  Bottom line, and as much as he appreciates the hardship and difficulties for someone who is hearing impaired, he cannot be yotzi with "shomei'a k'onah".  Minchas Shlomo is not the only opinion out there, but....

Suppose, however, one were to remove the device from one ear.  That way he would be hearing the direct voice as well as the electromechanically amplified voice.  Does that help or make things worse?  I might make things worse because there is a general principle of "trei kali lo mishtami" (two voices cannot be distinguished).  Hence, one is no better off; even a person who is not hard of hearing would not be yotzi (kiddush, for examle) in that situation.  However, for shofar and k'ri'as megilla, since those mitzvos are so beloved, we do say that two voices can be distinguished and one can choose to pay attention to the voice that will motzi him.  One small problem... the whole reason he is wearing hearing aids is that he can't hear very well.  Won't that render the whole issue moot since the direct voice will be overwhelmed by the amplified voice?

Not comes my chiddush.  In bitul, R' Yehuda has an interesting shita.  Whereas normally we say that a small quantity is negated by 60 times the volume (bitul b'shishim), that is, says R' Yehuda, is for min b'eino mino (two diferent flavors), but if the flavor of the two foods is identical (kosher and non-kosher wine, for example), then there is not bitul at all, not ever.  Moreover, the word used in the poskim to discuss the ability to tell the difference is "margish" (feel), not "to'em" (taste).  So... if you can apply the taste logic to hearing, then it comes out that R' Yehuda, who is usually the machmir, is meikel in this case and the half direct/half hearing aid advice would work out great.  In fact, it would even work for kiddush where we normally do say "trei kali lo mishtami".

You may not agree with this line of reasoning at all.  In fact, the people I have tried it out on so far were moved only so far as to say, "That's interesting" while slowly backing away.  Geniuses are never appreciated in their own time.  Neither are nuts, of course.


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…