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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Designer hearing aids

Daf Yomi Kesubos 5

Remember the days when being nearsighted was something people were embarrassed about?   They’d call you ‘four-eyes’ in school; and so glasses tended to be as minimalist as possible.  Then suddenly, some bright spark decided that eyewear could be a fashion statement.  All of a sudden, big bold frames are back in and even people who don’t need glasses are wearing them!

The same thing is now happening in the hearing aid world.  For many years, manufacturers strove to make hearing aids as small and unobtrusive as possible.  Until one day someone decided ‘why should it be any different to spectacles?’ And so now you can get all sorts of designer hearing aids in bold fluorescent colours.  Soon we’ll see everyone wearing them as a fashion statement!

Concerning the obligation to carry a tool to clean up after oneself when going out to war, the Torah states, “You shall have a spike upon your weapons-belt (azen).”

Bar Kapara expounded, “Do not read your ‘azen,’ rather read your ‘ozen’ (ear).  For if a person hears something inappropriate, he should place his finger in his ears, as Rabbi Elazar taught: Why are human fingers like spikes?  For if a person hears something inappropriate, he should place his fingers in his ears.

In the yeshiva of Rabbi Ishmael, it was taught: Why is the entire ear hard but the tragus (end of the ear) soft?  So that if one hears something inappropriate, he can push his tragus inside.

The Rabbis taught: A person should not listen to idle chatter, because the ears are the first limbs to burn.

Obviously if people start speaking lashon hara (gossip), you’re not going to sit there with your finger in your ear.  That’s pretty rude and you don’t want people to think you’re trying to be ‘holier than thou.’  What Bar Kapara means is the second you stick your finger into your ear to scratch it, people will lose their train of thought and there’s your opportunity to jump in and switch the topic of conversation.  Of course, if you can change the subject without reverting to the old ‘finger in the ear’ trick, it’s much better for your overall reputation!

The meaning of the Rabbis’ obscure declaration that the ears are the first to burn is that ears are extremely sensitive.  Nobody ever needed to replace their legs because they danced too much when they were young.  But a lot of people have hearing issues because they attended one too many rock concerts.  And in fact, when you go outside in minus forty, the ears are the first to get frost-bite!  That’s a sign from Heaven about the sensitive nature of ears.

You have to be so careful what you allow your ears to hear.  Remember, lashon hara is useless if it falls on deaf ears.  You need an active listening audience for lashon hara to take effect.  Don’t allow your ears to provide that audience!  Your ears are very sensitive, which means that all too often we believe what we hear, no matter how ludicrous the report. 

It’s quite telling that the Almighty alerts us to the fact that eyes and ears are extremely sensitive and subject to gradual loss of sight and hearing.  That doesn’t mean, G-d forbid, that if someone is short-sighted, he’s been looking at inappropriate things.  It’s merely a reminder from G-d that eyes and ears are extremely sensitive and you need to be so careful what you do with these vital organs.

Don’t listen to inappropriate talk!  Develop ways to get yourself out of conversations that are unworthy of your holy ears!  May you merit hearing only good things and speaking positivity to the ears of all those around you!


  1. That is cool to turn hearing aids into more of a socially acknowledged thing. My cousin is hearing impaired and she has felt the uneasiness of wearing her hearing aids. Now that she is older, she said that she wears her aids with confidence. I'd never thought about hearing aids being someone's badge of courage. It totally is though!

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