Texting On Shabbos
I read with interest Avi Ciment’s articles on texting on Shabbos. Here are a few thoughts:
First, we must not forget that we are dealing with kids whose actions may be well-intentioned but who often see things superficially – especially when fine points of halacha are involved. So, if five men in shul on Shabbos are wearing Hatzalah walkie talkies, another person comes in on a Kosher Shabbos Scooter, and yet another uses light switches that are “Shabbos compatible,” what do you expect from young teenagers?
“After all,” they can reason, “if all these things are allowed on Shabbos, how bad can texting be? I’m not turning on my phone, and I’ll even do it with a shinui, using my left hand or pinky.”
There is a fine line between things that can be allowed and things that should be allowed. Is it really a good idea to employ all these creative and gramma-based “solutions” to Shabbos “problems”?
Which leads to my second point: Many people nowadays treat youth with an attitude of “You are weak, you cannot make it.” One finds this attitude in numerous publications when chinuch, parenting, and other such matters arise.
The bar has been lowered. Expectations have decreased. It is just “too much,” “too stressful” etc., and this attitude has affected the younger generation. Yes, things are different now, but we should still be injecting our children with positivity, strength, resilience, and resolve rather than resigning ourselves to “the new facts of life.”
Let me end by noting that my work takes me to various schools, one of which is Catholic. All over the school – especially the preschool – are signs and proclamations of love. The message that they are loved by their lord is constant.
I do not see this kind of message in the halls of our yeshivos, l’havdil. Are we, in fact, relaying to our children that Hashem loves us? At home as well as in school? Are we giving that message proactively, or just reactively as mussar when something happens? Has Yiddishkeit become just a string of rules to follow?
We must go back to basics. We must see the “forest,” not just the trees.
My mother didn’t go to a Bais Yaakov. Yet, she cried on Tisha B’Av and spent her morning mourning for the Beis Hamikdash. She did not water her flowers during the Nine Days since “the Jews in Yerushalyim were dying of thirst and starving, so how can I water my flowers?”.
She did not need shiurim and “activities” on Tisha B’Av to fill her day. She had it inside her heart. We must reproduce this genuine Jewishness in the next generation.
Stop Texting and Driving
What meaningful action can we all undertake in response to the tragic loss of the young engaged couple, Elisheva Kaplan and Yisroel Levin?
I would suggest that we stop multi-tasking while driving. (Truth be told, there no such thing as multi-tasking; the brain can only do one thing well at a time, so if you’re texting and speaking, your eyes and hands are not paying sufficient attention to the road.)
Pedestrians, too, should stop using their cell phones as they walk and be mindful of irresponsible drivers.
Being wired and distracted is just another form of “driving under the influence.” If one is distracted, no matter the cause, one’s vehicle of convenience can turn into a missile of misfortune.
If we all commit to this program, things will get easier with time. If one person stops texting, his friend will feel more comfortable doing so. Perhaps our frustration tolerance will get better too as a by-product of this endeavor amidst the “now, now, now” society in which we live.
So-Called Jewish Organizations
Bethany Mandel’s column last week was on the mark. She focused on so-called Jewish organizations that aren’t what they appear, and are supposed, to be: supporters of Israel and Jewish causes.
The Anti-Defamation League, for example, has pivoted over time from being sympathetic to Israel’s needs and problems to being more “globally concerned.” Abe Foxman was an enigmatic leader who began that pivot and the current leadership is in lock-step with it.
The American Jewish World Service is another example of such an organization. In my opinion, it is being blatantly dishonest by including the word “Jewish” in its name. It is devoid of any concern for any Jewish issues, Its founder, Ruth Messinger, gained some notoriety years ago running against Rudy Giuliani for New York City mayor. She was adamantly opposed to sales of weaponry by the U.S. to Israel, particularly jet fighter planes. Her sympathies were completely with Israel’s antagonists that posed a threat to the Jewish state.
The AJWS operates principally in Africa, which is fine with me; just don’t include the word “Jewish” in your name when you haven’t the slightest interest in the welfare of the Jewish people. Only the naive believe that by supporting a charity that uses the magic word “Jewish,” it is helping Jewish brethren here and in Israel.
Kudos to Ms. Mandel. These organizations that deliberately misrepresent their aims and sympathies are taking our money under false pretenses. We shouldn’t give them a penny.
New City, NY
Don’t Be Fooled Like I Was
We often read about taxi drivers in inspiring “only in Israel ” stories. Regrettably, I’m writing about a negative experience in the hope that readers will benefit from it.
On a recent trip to Israel, a taxi driver in Jerusalem charged me 498 shekel for a fare from the Central Bus Station to Ir David. (Compare this to the bill of 200 shekel I paid a driver to take me from the airport to Beit Shemesh, a round trip for him.) When I expressed surprise, he showed me the meter. How can you argue with a meter? So of course this tired, jet-lagged senior citizen paid even though I knew something was wrong.
My children who live in Israel told me the driver had obviously set the meter to register the higher amount. Looking back, I realize there were red flags I should have seen. Clearly, this driver had it down to a science, and I’m sure we were not his first “victims.”
There are resources available for visitors: a Gett taxi app that will give an estimate and a website, taxifarefinder.com, that estimates taxi fares. Before you get in a cab, ask the driver how much it’s going to cost, and walk away if it doesn’t sound right.
I was also told that yeshiva and seminary students have been easy targets for dishonest taxi drivers. Forewarned is forearmed! On a positive note, thank G-d we did have a wonderful visit with our family, and I did not let this ruin our time in our beautiful homeland.
A Little Wiser