Speed All You Want, Just Give a Small Donation First

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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.”

Related:

Seat Belt Safety: It Won’t Make a Difference

How to Avoid Speeding Tickets

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Comments

  1. Very powerful.
    That does seem to be the Haredi bottom line. Children are killed because their parents do not keep kosher, but if you follow the laws between man and G-d all will be forgiven. It makes me angry.

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  2. On the other hand, this was blogged about by the Muqata a little while ago.
    Strangely enough it is the same Rabbi Kanievsky who is quoted in the newsletter you mention

    http://muqata.blogspot.com/2009/07/rabbi-refuses-to-bless-traffic-offender.html

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  3. mominisrael says:

    Keren,I saw that but didn’t link to it because Rabbi Josh Waxman casts doubt on the incident:

    In terms of the story with Rav Chaim Kanievsky calling the yeshiva bachur who drove without a license a murderer, the following from a source I am not allowed to name:

    Not long ago I received the following in an email from a friend of mine. “I just spoke to some one who is very close to Reb Chaim & the story of the boy & his car accident is not true.”

    http://parsha.blogspot.com/2009/07/interesting-posts-and-articles-186.html

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  4. Kol hakavod to your kids for being disturbed by this upsetting story.

    All drivers can tell you of that moment.
    I think this sentence encompasses everything that is so sad about this incident.

    Shabbat Shalom and besurot tovot.

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  5. This story is so sad. The description of the police officers makes them seem like forces of evil instead of law keepers who try to keep the streets safe.

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  6. I have been bothered by these stories for quite some time. Here’s a story that I believe is about Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, zatzal:

    A man was serving as Rav Yaakov’s driver for a dvar mitzvah. He gets pulled over by a cop for speeding. As the policeman writes the ticket, the man turns to Rav Yaakov, embaressed, and says, “I thought Hashem was supposed to protect someone involved in a mitzvah.” Rav Yaakov said, “He did. He brought the policeman to keep you from hurting yourself.”

    BTW, in Rav Frand’s Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation speech yesterday, I was glad to hear him relate the story of the Kotzker Rav (or Chernobler Maggid)encouraging a woman to rely on Hashem, not on the bracha of a tzaddik. The whole segulah thing is often overdone.

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  7. Disturbing (I utterly agree with your kids) and disgraceful.

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  8. Doesn’t this story contradict this story ( http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2009/07/rav-kanievsky-refuses-to-give-bracha-to.html ) about the lesson RCK is imparting?

    what do we do with contradictory stories about the same gadol?

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    • mominisrael says:

      Shaya: As I mentioned in an earlier comment, that story is probably not true.

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  9. Shaya – in this story, the driver probably had a license, so it is ok… :-)

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  10. These solicitations are getting more and more ridiculous. I wonder what consequence we can buy ourselves out of next. No wonder this generation has an issue with authority.

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  11. Z - Ima Undercover says:

    This dovetails nicely with the solicitations I receive that have obviously retrofitted the boys with kippot!!!

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    • mominisrael says:

      Hey Z, long time no see.
      I’m here and reading, just overwhelmed with bar mitzvah stuff.
      Staying Afloat-I checked out your blog. I’m cheering for your son with you.

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  12. Thank you! So great to have you in the support crowd. He’s really doing quite well.

    Hatzlachah with the bar mitzvah.

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