We got an advertising brochure for the large charity organization Kupat Hair, the City Fund, operating in haredi communities throughout Israel.
Normally they include stories of people who recover funds in the stock market/find the housekey/make the plane after promising to donate to Kupat Hair. Often the protagonists are (presumably wealthy) Americans or Europeans.
The front cover of this week’s issue shows a picture of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky “praying for all of the children.” He’s praying that they will be accepted into the yeshiva that is best for them, and that they will pass the days of summer safely.
The next page describes the dangers of summer including newspapers, outings, and books, away from the spiritual protection of the yeshiva walls. They provide a form with spaces for the amount of your donation and the names of children. For sons, you can ask that they be accepted to yeshiva. (I understand that girls have a hard time getting into Seminar, but that must happen at a different time of year.) For sons and daughters, you can request that they pass the summer safely, both spiritually and physically. In the haredi world summer vacation for boys lasts for three weeks, although some have shortened it to two.
On another page there’s a form where you can pay NIS 360 and jump the line to ask Rabbi Kanievsky your halachic question.
My kids were disturbed by the following story. When translating I tried to preserve the dramatic tension of Kupat Hair’s writer:
Opposite a Tough Policeman
Sabbath eve. In the car. Safed. M.B. holds the steering wheel with reliable hands and careens quickly through the ancient alleys.
All drivers can tell you of that moment. [???] The unpleasant surprise. When suddenly after an unexpected curve, a police car waits with a flashing blue light and two haughty and cold-faced policemen blocking your way and requesting you to stop.The policeman signals to M. to open the car window. Their equipment proves that the car was traveling at 130 kilometers an hour. The second policeman points coldly to the sign on the other side of the road: “Up to 80 kilometers per hour,” it says clearly and very [very!] sharply.
“First I am cancelling your license for 30 days! You won’t escape trial. You’ll get a summons to come in a month and a half. You traveled 50 kilometers per hour over the speed limit. Pass your license through the window, please.”
M. is very tense. He gives the policeman the documents, and finds himself promising: “Master of the Universe, I donate NIS 36 to Kupat Hair. Just let this story end well.”
What would you say if you had seen this with your own eyes? The policeman, who had promised a moment before to withdraw the license, leans toward the window of the car. “Shabbat shalom,” he says. He returns the license to M. and signals to him to continue driving. No details. No tickets. No court. No license cancellation. Just NIS 36. [A bargain by any standard.]
The car glides forward, a confounded driver holding the wheel, as he hurries to stop in the nearest parking spot to call from Safed to Kupat Hair Bnei Brak. [Presumably he would need to donate again if he wants to call while driving.]
That’s it. No promise to drive more carefully, no remorse, no lesson to others about safe driving. How ironic that they just warned about the dangers of car accidents during the summer months.
In the next issue we can expect to see the following message:
“I hit three children, rachmana letzlan (God should save us), whose parents did not donate to Kupat Hair. Next time I’ll donate before stepping into the car.”