Chasuna Alert: We are Serving Treif at Our Weddings

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chup[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman]

What would you say if you were informed that “treif” has been served at thousands of Orthodox Jewish weddings for the past decade and more?
It is likely that you would be pretty upset.

Yet, if you have gone to a religious Jewish wedding recently, it is highly probable that you consumed this Tarfus. What is perhaps more scandalous is that numerous people are aware of it. And until now, most of those people have done nothing about it. Sadly, if the either the catering hall, the Chasan, the Kallah, any parent, or the Rosh Yeshiva would want to – it can be stopped almost instantly.

The underlying issue is the noise-induced hearing loss brought about by the excessively earsplitting music. Recently, this author measured the sound of the band at a wedding with a decibel meter. The noise levels were not just at the danger range – but far, far, past it.

The Tarfus being referred to is a negation of three different Mitzvos. There is the first Mitzvah of “veNishmartem me’od b’nafshosaichem (Dvarim 4:9) – the Mitzvah of protecting our health and well-being. The verse later on (Dvarim 4:15), “Rak hishamer lecha” is understood by most Poskim to actually comprise a second Mitzvah (See Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita Shaar HaTeshuvos #25) – to take special care. There is also a third Mitzvah, “V’Chai Bahem – And you shall live by them” (VaYikra 18:5).

Lest the reader think that the danger is exaggerated in this article, we must first understand how it is that we hear anything in the first place.

When people talk or make any noise sound waves are created in the air. When we hear we are, in essence, turning these sound waves into electrical signals. These electrical signals are carried into our brains by the auditory nerve in a very complex method.

The sound waves enter our outer ear and bounce through our ear canal, ultimately hitting the ear drum.

The eardrum vibrates from these sound waves and channels the vibrations to three crucial bones in the middle ear. The bones are called the malleus, the incus, and the stapes.

These bones in the middle ear change the sound vibrations from air vibrations to fluid vibrations. This is done in the snail-shaped cochlea of the inner ear. The cochlea is filled with fluid. The cochlea is divided into an upper and lower section by an elastic partition called the basilar membrane. This membrane has hair cells on it which are actually sensory cells. These hair cells move up and down as they ride the fluid wave. The hair cells have even smaller hairs on top of them called stereocilia. When they hit the top ceiling they bend and open up a pore in the cell. Chemicals then rush into the hair cell which causes an electrical signal. This signal is carried by the auditory nerve into the brain. The brain understands the signal as a familiar sound.

Loud noises over a certain decibel reading can either damage or destroy these hair cells. Human hair cells never grow back. That number can vary, but it is clear that damage is done above the 85 decibel mark. Often the damage does not show until later on in life, but is a clear and present danger.

According to the National Institute of Health, “Sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for noise induced hearing loss to happen.

Noise induced hearing loss can be immediate or it can take a long time to be noticeable. It can be temporary or permanent, and it can affect one ear or both ears. Even if you can’t tell that you are damaging your hearing, you could have trouble hearing in the future, such as not being able to understand other people when they talk, especially on the phone or in a noisy room.”

How many decibels are typical sounds? A refrigerator hums at 45 decibels. Human beings speak at 60 decibels. A Rav can speak at about 80 decibels. Manhattan city traffic can hit 90 decibels. A revving motorcycle can hit 100 decibels. A siren screeches at 120 decibels. An Uzi submachine gun is about 140 decibels. So what did the band hit?

Near the band at the actual wedding, my unit measured at 142. That’s right, above a submachine gun. Deafening. At the tables, where you could not hear regular normal conversation, it was above 110. Now it could be that my unit was not calibrated well, but after having purchased another unit and measuring lower items to each other, it seems that the calibration was accurate.

At a wedding, the distance from the band and the length of time that one is exposed to the ear-splitting music are important factors in assessing the long term damage done. In the past few months, I have not seen one player in any wedding band that did not wear ear plugs.

It is true that we should let young people have their fun, and loud music is often synonymous with fun. But there are limitations. We should make every effort to reduce the noise level to tolerable levels that do not damage the ears of Klal Yisroel. It is this author’s opinion that every Chassan, Kallah, parent and caterer should instruct the band to make sure that the noise level does not exceed 85 decibels at the tables. We should actually measure this to ensure compliance. What rationale is there in the world to harm the hearing of our guests so permanently?

The Ben Ish Chai writes that a person should make every effort to ensure the general safety of both himself and those around him (Parshas Pinchas year cycle #2). The Turei Zahav in his commentary to Choshain Mishpat (427:10) cites a Midrash on Shir HaShirim that when one does this and protects himself from dangers and damage not only is he protected, but he receives extraordinary credit for the Mitzvah too.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com.

ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY 5TJT




29 COMMENTS

  1. So bring ear plugs .
    As a musician this has nothing to do with fun it has to do with one fact loud good music makes you want to dance.Low music makes you want to go to sleep.If you could carry on a conversation and the conversation is good you will continue shmoosing, even though there is a Choson that you need to be mesameach. The chovas hasha is simchas choson vekala. Bring ear plugs and dance

  2. “Treif” refers to meat that is from a non-kosher animal (such as a elephant or a horse) or meat that has been slaughtered and preapred in a non-halachic matter. Any other use of the word suggests the user is guilty of ignorance or fraud.

  3. I was at 2 chasunahs recently where the music was noticeably quieter. Then I went to another one and had to stay in the lobby for the entire “dancing”.

    How about the tarfus of girls screaming like wild beasts at badeking and during the dancing, which seems to be par for the course in certain circles?

    How about the new trend where it takes chosson and kallah 25 minutes to leave the chuppah to go to Yichud?

    Our chasunahs have gotten out of control financially and in other ways. Our community seems to think that more, whether it’s in terms of food, volume of music/singing, dancing, is automatically better. The idea of measure, reserve, restraint, is being lost even in our religious communities.

  4. I have walked out on a number of weddings because the music was unbearably loud. If the baalei simcha aren’t going to lower the volume out of consideration (and respect) for their guests, I am going to take care of my own hearing and just leave.

  5. You left out that it is OSSUR to to injure someone (i.e. breaking their eardrum) One may sue for CHABALAH.

    Also, the TIRCHA D’TZIBURRAH of waiting for pictures to be taken ostensibly because the Choson cant see the Kallah before Chuppah. But he DOES see her before the Chuppah….at the Badeken. This is a recent CHUMRAH. In the days of the Rishonim, the Choson and Kallah met early in the morning accompanied by a band, sat together on a seat, and then he was accompanied to Shacharis, while the Kallah went to the Simcha hall. Chassunos were held in midday then. CHADESH YAMEINU KEKEDEM!

  6. What about:
    1) Chossen and Kallah sitting at a table all by themselves? Are there so many orphans? Were they hatched? Did they raise themselves? Educate themselves? Feed themselves? House themselves?
    2) Waiting, while listening to the loud, almost lewd music and listening to the wild screams and watching the wild movements of boys and girls as they cheer the bride and groom for 20 minutes as they wait to enter the hall for the first dance.
    3) Reading invitations from “mishpachas ha’chossen” and “mishpachas ha’kallah”? What happened to horim – guides, teachers, leaders?
    4) Disco lights?
    5) Chossen and Kallah being lifted into the hall through an elevator stage?
    6) Women coming over in droves over to the men’s side to watch the dancing and participating with in-their-place gyrations?

  7. Hoffman is incorrect in his blaming Roshei Yeshivos for this with his false implication that they can stop it. They can be as successful in stopping this as they had been when they told people to stop making such fancy chasunas.

  8. Dear Mr. Musician. You could not be more wrong. Loud music does not make you want to dance, it makes you want to leave the simcha because you have a headache, your clothes are vibrating and you’re hoarse from having to scream into the ear of the person sitting next to you to pass the salt. It is not conducive to a nice night out. You cannot enjoy the simcha. You cannot have a conversation with anyone. As a matter of fact, you cannot even hear yourself think. Tempo makes you want to dance, not earsplitting volume.
    I have attended many chasunas that were extremely leibedik even though the music was at a comfortable sound level. Guests actually enjoyed themselves, wonder of wonders, and most stayed to the end.
    Weddings are not rock concerts or discos. They are supposed to be batampte affairs where guests can fulfill the mitzvah of simchas chassan v’kallah and enjoy themselves while doing it. Think about it. How would you like to schlep 2-3 hours, not to mention the expense of babysitters, gas and tolls, to go to a relative’s chasuna only to have to leave early because because your head is pounding? Is that fair? Is it fair to the baalei simcha if their guests leave early and they end up paying for food that doesn’t get eaten and have nobody left at the end for sheva brachos? How would you feel if the deserted baal simcha was you, Mr Musician? How would you feel if your guests had a lousy time because the band refused to lower the volume even when asked multiple times to do so? (Any band that refuses the request of the person paying them to lower the volume, IMO, deserves to be blacklisted.)
    And another thing, Mr Musician, if your band is so loud and your music is so distorted that the guests can’t recognize Yosis Alayech when you’re playing it then they are NOT going to hire you for their child’s simcha. So get off your ego trip and lower the volume.

  9. Wait a minute. What ever happened to the strictly enforced “Simcha guidlines”? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
    I agree with many of the above comments. When the music is so loud that my head starts vibrating, I text my wife and we leave the hall. Yes, its the responsibility of the Baal Simcha to tell the band, either you keep the volume down or I’m not paying you! I still remember 20 plus years ago, when I got married, I told the lead player (who I made the contract with) I wanted the music level at a pleasant level and only Yeshivisha classic niggunim & if he goes above that, I won’t be paying him. B”H it was beautiful & received a lot of positive feed back. If the Baal Simcha doesn’t care, so then he can’t complain when people leave early.

  10. The Rabbi is told to bring earplugs. Shall he also bring for his children and all other children? I was at a torah dedication and the children were asked to march behind a vehicle with horribly blaring music. The health of our children is paramount and trumps the financial and reputational interests of the organizers. Have a grand old time at a wedding where the other guests are slicing their skin with knives – as long as you aren’t slicing your own skin? Sorry: this loud music is communal madness and it is time to put an end to it, if necessary, by voting with one’s feet.

  11. The last wedding I was at I left the hall and went downstairs. That wasn’t good enough. I had to leave the building. I almost always leave when the music starts. I tried using earplugs, but that wasn’t good enough.

    I am a musician, and I value my hearing.

  12. People who think it’s a joke haven’t experienced a hearing disorder. I went through a few weeks of poor hearing due to an infection – and it’s no laugh, not being able to hear.
    Going to a loud wedding recently started my ears ringing again, and I really feared loosing some more hearing.
    It is far too loud, there is no reason for it, BAALEI SIMCHA YOU ARE THE BOSS!