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I learned that if two groups were eating in two different rooms but even one person could see someone in the other room, then they could have one zimun (I thought this was in Masechet Brachot, but I can't find it). Could this extend to video-chat?

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As always, for practical matters, CYLOR. –  msh210 Jul 19 '11 at 21:44
    
@msh210 practical ? .... –  Moshe Jul 27 '11 at 5:13
    
@Moshe, I mean that if this comes up in practice, CYLOR rather than relying on what you read here. –  msh210 Jul 27 '11 at 9:35
    
@msh210 - I was being sarcastic. I find this situation somewhat humorous and unlikely. –  Moshe Jul 27 '11 at 22:02
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Aren't our sefarim filled with unlikely, and sometimes humorous situations? I never meant for this to be practical, but if it were kosher, maybe a huge zimun-network could be arranged where each house had an iphone that linked it to two other houses. Or maybe it could arise in a corporate video-conference environment. –  zaq Jul 28 '11 at 2:13

2 Answers 2

According to the Tzitz Eliezer, one can fulfill the mitzvot of reading the Torah, blowing the shofar, and hearing the megillah via telephone or radio. See his famous tshuva (8:11) http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14507&st=&pgnum=53

His permission is if there is no other way or in a case (such as a large hospital) where it is not practical to accomplish the mitzvah for a lot of people without using a microphone. So I would suggest that perhaps in this case of eating together online, since there is no other way to accomplish the mitzvah except via microphone, then it would be permitted.

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blowing the shofar? really? –  avi Jul 20 '11 at 5:49
    
Apparently, we have contradictory teshuvahs from the Tzitz Eliezer: koltorah.org/ravj/The%20Parameters%20of%20Kol%20Isha.htm –  avi Jul 20 '11 at 5:55
    
Famous as that teshuva is, it seems like its not correct, even according to the Tzitz! "Despite these view, Rav Yoseif brings in the view of the Tzitz Eliezer (4:26) who rules that the voice heard through the microphone is not the voice of a human, but rather that voice is gone and these noises are new, machine-generated sounds that cannot help one fulfill his obligation to hear Megilla" –  avi Jul 20 '11 at 6:21
    
All I can say is read the tshuva itself (which is why I provided the link) as opposed to english summaries of other tshuvas. –  Curiouser Jul 20 '11 at 13:44
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In any case, as is made clear in the tshuva I attached, enough significant poskim allow ram kol over radio or telephone that any answer to this question which doesn't recognize their views is, I think, flawed. –  Curiouser Jul 20 '11 at 14:06

Voice over the internet is halachically considered an echo. Brachot and prayer can not be said over the internet, nor can you listen to a shofar blast over the phone etc. (source http://www.chaburas.org/ramkol.html )

That would be a reason to not do a mizuman over video-chat.

As to the question of if you are "allowed" to do a mezuman over an echo / video chat, I am not sure. See here and here for the debate.

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I would clarify that since the essence of a zimun is for one person to include the others of the group (be motzi them), avi's echo would preclude them from forming a zimun. –  YDK Jul 19 '11 at 17:08
    
Where do you get the "VoIP is echo" bit from? –  Moshe Jul 27 '11 at 5:14
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Two places.. one it is. What you hear over voip is not a person's voice, but rather another material giving the voice over. Secondly, its an old halachic ruling that microphones count as halachic echos. Void is done via a microphone on one end, and a speaker on the other. –  avi Jul 27 '11 at 5:37
    
-1. IIRC, some Poskim (inlcuding the Tzitz Eliezer and Minchas Elazar, according to this answer and the comments thereon) permit Mikra Megillah via telephone, as well as participating in a Siyyum in order to partake in a Seudat Mitzvah. Why should VoIP be any different than telephone? –  Adam Mosheh Jul 12 '12 at 20:11
    
@AdamMosheh Only for sick people who can't otherwise hear the megillah. Also, if you read other positions of the Tzzit Eliezer and Minchas Elazar you will find many inconsitancies on this issue. –  avi Jul 13 '12 at 15:48

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