Thursday, August 01, 2019

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Discreet Ear Buds A Real Boon To People Who Hate When Others Talk In Shul


earbudsGiv'at Sh'muel, Aug 1 - Technological innovation has come to the synagogue in the form of wireless, hard-to-see, in-ear speakers that users can wear to block out the age-old nuisance of other worshipers disrupting the service with idle chatter.

Adopters of the technology praised its developers for their attentiveness to shul-goer needs and their willingness to tackle what sources indicate represent an ancient problem: people who deem their conversations more important than the integrity and flow of the synagogue service, when a human must view himself as standing before the Creator, or at least preparing to do so.

Spiritual leaders used to devote more energy to discouraging chatter during services, with one towering seventeenth-century authority blaming the phenomenon for the Chmielnicki massacres in which tens of thousands of Jews were killed by Cossack marauders. Through the years, however, as Rabbinic positions became subject to synagogue boards, Rabbis became less willing to call out congregants for sinful behavior, out of fear for their livelihood lest they displease members with influence. Software developments saw an opportunity for shul-goers to maintain adherence to proper standards while avoiding the tension and unpleasantness inherent in rebuking others for problematic behavior that has come to be viewed as unremarkable.

Kol D'mamah Dakkah - "the sound of silence" - as the first such app is known, uses a smartphone's camera to track the movement of the shatz's - the prayer leader - lips to identify where in the liturgy the congregation has reached, and adjusts its pre-recorded sound files to match the shatz's speed, while canceling out other ambient noise. Thus, say the developers, a davener can remain focused on his "service of the heart" and not get distracted as anyone around him taking the proceedings less seriously than they should.

"No one knows how to give rebuke properly anymore," explained chief app creator Elazar Azariah. "My colleagues and I saw a need to forestall the tension and enmity that would come of improper attempts to correct sinful behavior - so we did the next best thing and found a technological solution that makes the user unaware of any such behavior. As far as the user is concerned, the other guy is also davening or saying T'hillim. Not only does Kol D'mamah Dakkah reduce tension, it promotes fulfillment of the commandment to give fellow Jews the benefit of the doubt, to judge them favorably."

Kol D'mamah Dakkah currently exists in Nusach S'farad, Edoth HaMizrach, and Nusach HaAri of Chabad-Lubavitch, but Mr. Azariah revealed that focus groups has determined little interest among Nusach Ashkenaz adherents, who found the app got in the way of following the latest sports, stock, and real estate developments.



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