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Wikipedia explains some of the history behind the famous question, "If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?" The article cites Scientific American who viewed this from a physical aspect and concluded that if no animal or person is there to perceive it, then it does not make a sound. So, it seems that sound exists only in the presence of a human or animal ear.

With this in mind, I have to ask a related question. Isaiah says, in Chapter 55 verse 12:

וכל עצי השדה ימחאו כף

All the trees of the field will clap hands

Perhaps, Isaiah, living centuries before the "forest" question was proposed, hadn't pondered this question at all. So, ol' DF (that's me) is here to pose the question that Isaiah didn't:

If trees clap in the field, and no one is there to hear the applause, did they make a sound?

I ask that your answer not make a "backward" inference from the "forest" question or what physics has discovered after Isaiah. Pretend that people during that time would have asked this question.


This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim Torah policy.

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    You're missing an opportunity to also bring in "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" somehow. – Isaac Moses Mar 8 '17 at 16:23
  • @IsaacMoses interesting nuance. It's a rather weak question, though. As you know, Tanac"h frequently uses a singular form when the plural is meant. – DanF Mar 8 '17 at 16:45
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    the torah is a tree of life and if it falls and no one is there, no one makes a sound of "but I don't want to fast." – rosends Mar 8 '17 at 18:23
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What do you mean, "if there is no one there to hear"? There is always One there to hear. There is, after all, no place that God is not.

It is written in Mishlei 15:3: "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch upon the evil and the good." But perhaps you will say that trees, being neither evil nor good, are not included in this watch. Ok, then consider what David HaMelekh says in Tehillim 139: "Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in the nether-world, behold, Thou art there. (etc)"

And if, perhaps, you say that heavens and the nether-world are different, and clapping trees are in neither, see what the torah has to say about the land in Devarim 11:12: "a land the Lord, your God, looks after; the eyes of Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year". God's attention is on the land; the land includes trees. (Surely you would not say that the perfect God who sees does not also hear!)

But perhaps you will say that that only applies to trees in Eretz Yisrael, so consider what Yirmiyahu 23:24 has to say: "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." Nothing about limiting this to Eretz Yisrael there!

The applauding trees make sound because there is One there to hear. Perhaps the trees are applauding because there is One there to hear -- the trees, like the melachim who say kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, occupy their days with praise of their Creator. We humans can learn a lot from trees.

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Why do you think the trees are making any noise? They're making sure the spoon — the כף — is completely obliterated — יימחו — which can be done silently.

Although another question might be how are all the trees in the field destorying a single spoon, unless it's a really large spoon.

I'm guessing that the spoon either has Haman's name on it, or it belonged to a member of Amalek.

  • For other readers unfamiliar with Hebrew, the word כף also means "spoon". I'm not sure how מחא means "to mash". – DanF Mar 9 '17 at 15:01
  • @DanF I guess I'm associating it with the modern Hebrew noun מחית -- mash. A better translation would probably be to blot, or to obliterate. Fixed. – Zev Spitz Mar 9 '17 at 19:33

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