Hearing Aids


Hearing aids are becoming more and more common. Not only can security personnel seen with plugs in their ears, many people who are hard of hearing are able to improve the quality of their life using these small devices which help them hear what is going on around them.

But what about Shabbat? The rabbis of recent times have decided that if the hearing aid is turned on before Shabbat (that is, the main switch is ON) it can be used on Shabbat. In addition, one is even permitted to change the volume of the device using a tiny wheel or a straight-line control. (However, the volume may not be adjusted on Shabbat if it is controlled by pressing a button, similar to a television remote control.) Obviously, it is necessary to have batteries that will last for the entire Shabbat, and this is possible with the very low power consumption of modern hearing aids and the newest highly efficient batteries.

The "setting" of the device should not be changed manually on Shabbat (if this is possible with this type of hearing aid). However, the latest most sophisticated "digital" devices have internal computer controls which automatically change the parameters of the hearing aid depending on the environment (such as sound level). We allow such hearing aids to be used, and we do not see any halachic problem even when the user moves from one place to another, causing the internal parameters to change automatically.

It is preferable to use hearing aids with a condenser type microphone (in which case there is a weak current on all the time) and not a dynamic microphone (where a new current is created when there is a sound, similar to a bicycle dynamo). The same rule applies to large loudspeaker systems and not only personal hearing aids.

One is also permitted to remove the hearing aid from the ear and put it back in, even if this leads to a resonance hum which stops when the instrument is returned to the ear.

In summary, the main halachic requirements for using a hearing aid are to have appropriate long-lasting batteries and to turn it on before the beginning of Shabbat.

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