Helping the Blind Cross

No, our car isn’t fixed yet; they told us that they hope to hear some word about the part tomorrow. It’s been three weeks.

I took my 4yo into town on the bus to run a few errands, and we noticed something new:

Now our town does not have a reputation for being progressive but these little gadgets buzz to let blind people know when the light is green. On the top, a raised arrow points to the relevant crossing. I wish I knew what the pictures mean.

The intersection is near a club for the blind. I know this because I was walking nearby when I saw a man with a white cane bump into an electric pole. (Another sign of the city’s progress is that they are gradually burying electric wires as they replace old sewage pipes and put in the new light rail.) I offered to help him get where he was going and told him about my father, who never learned how to use a white cane. This man had become blind only three years ago. When we approached the club, a religious man greeted us and said he would take the blind man the rest of the way. The religious man’s expression made me feel uncomfortable about having guided the blind man by letting him lightly rest his hand on my arm, and I said goodbye rather abruptly. I still feel bad about that.

Update: You can now push on the graphic above to get an announcement of your location. My kids like to do that.


  1. mother in israel says

    Anon, yes, I’m religious too. I may have read too much into the expression. Of course I felt obligated to help the man. But I still felt awkward walking around town with a strange man’s hand on my arm.

  2. Anonymous says

    Coming from a non-Jew lurker:
    1) What makes the “religious” man religious? Aren’t you religious too?
    2) Would shomer negiah truly dictate that you should not touch a blind man to offer him help? Especially in potentially dangerous or life-threatening situations, like crossing a busy intersection?
    I’m sure the blind man appreciated your help, and I don’t think you should feel uncomfortable for helping him.

  3. i definitely think your mitzvah outweighs letting him touch you. such an example you set for your kids!

  4. We have those gadgets, too, and it’s always funny to see sighted people push the button- they obviously mistake it for the buttons you push to make the sign change to “walk.”

  5. pictures of you walking around holding another man’s hand have now been posted all over your city! You are in trouble!
    I think it was fine, but I understand how it could be awkward…

  6. mother in israel says

    Rafi–very funny.
    RR–a friend told me that they may not work yet, but if you push on the button the box will announce what corner you are at.

  7. I wish I knew what the pictures mean.
    Your town must really be out in the sticks. You’ve never heard of Agel, and you don’t even recognize the international symbol for a flying saucer request?!
    A man, a hand pointing up and a spaceship on top of him. These pictorial signs are supposed to be easy to understand…like a green person crossing the street or a red person standing still…does the box really need to spell it all out?

  8. Choside Shoteh. You should not have been made to feel uncomfortable for helping someone who was having difficulty and could have tripped and hurt himself.

  9. See, being secular, I wouldn’t even think about it and would just assume that religious person was having a bad day (or was just ill-tempered). It took me a while to even figure out why you felt uncomfortable. You did a good thing in my book, anyway, so hopefully in His book too.
    Funny comment there, Jameel – thanks for the laugh!

  10. Hey it looks like an advertisement for the teenage mutant ninja turtles.
    Could it have something to do with eating off a plate?
    Maybe its a sign to turn on your brights?

  11. mother in israel says

    Phyllis–Thank you.
    Jameel, do they even have traffic lights where you live?
    Thank you, Ortho.
    Israeli Mom. I checked out your blog IM–nice site. Thanks for the comment.

  12. mother in israel says

    Hesh, you never know. Feel free to start a caption contest. Of course blind people can’t see the figures anyway.

  13. Just to stick my two cents in–of course you behaved appropriately, don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.

  14. You did the right thing.

  15. MoI: What’s a traffic light?

  16. Lion of Zion says

    i’m sure he hopes you’ve learned your lesson by making you feel uncomfortable. now you’ll know better next time and just let the guy get run over by a car as he tries to cross himself.

  17. You can also carry pepper spray or a stun gun for annoying people that make you feel uncomfortable.

  18. Lion of Zion says

    just to clarify, i meant that it was wrong of him to make you feel uncomfortable. would he have preferred that the man risk being hit by a car.

  19. mother in israel says

    Thanks everyone. Jameel, now pepper spray would have gotten me some attention. LOZ, I understood your point. What a world.

  20. Kol hakavod! I don’t think you should have felt embarrassed at all, even though I understand where it came from and probably would have felt the same. I’ve seen many instances of chareidi men helping little old ladies down from a bus or vice versa and same goes for leading the blind. B’H for those who would save the drowing woman (that is the ex in talmud right? I’m no scholar!)
    I felt super guilty the other day for not leading a man to and across the intersection he asked for directions to. It was only a few mins out of my way but I was in a rush to pick up my daughter from gan and weighed the mitzvah against stealing the gannenet’s time. I hope I made the right choice!

  21. Anonymous says

    FYI, there IS a Jewish version of the Flylady Group! It’s called FlyBabies and it’s wonderful 🙂

  22. Shari Jovani says

    The poor blind man had just bumped into a pole, of course you did the right thing. Even if he hadn’t, helping a blind person is a no-brainer. I didn’t ask a rabbi, but it doesn’t seem logical to me that shomer negia comes into play in this situation. Anyway, don’t feel bad about the abrupt good-bye, you were caught off-guard by the awkwardness when the relig. man ‘relieved you of your duties’. I am sure the blind man doesn’t feel bad about it, so neither should you. On the contrary, he no doubt feels blessed that 2 people looked out for him that day.