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August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
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Navigating The Journey: Bein Odam L’Chaveiro

Wahrhaftig-022814-Man

Wahrhaftig-022814-VerrazanoShould the same people who pay such meticulous attention to mitzvos bein odom l’Makom drive this way? Is it proper for someone on his way to bake matzos for the seder or buy the most mehudar esrog to navigate as if he is the only one whose Yom Tov preparation matters?

Drivers are not alone. Pedestrians are also prone to thoughtless behavior. Rushing across the street on a red light in traffic is not wise or polite. Using a baby stroller as a traffic detection system is downright insane.

The potential to create a kiddush HaShem exists every time we go into the street. Free choice gives us the ability to do the right thing and accrue reward in this world and the next. We can be charitable and allow someone to exit a parking space instead of passing by as if he was invisible. We can wait for pedestrians to finish crossing safely, and not fear the horn of the driver behind, who can only see that the light has changed. Pedestrians can check for traffic by looking and waiting for the light to change instead of jaywalking or sticking a stroller out into traffic and putting an infant in harm’s way.

We can pay attention to mitzvos bein odom l’chavero and avoid becoming sad statistics. Sure, many people consider me insane for having these opinions and backing a losing campaign to bring civil behavior to public spaces. In truth, there is no need to drive me crazy. I can walk there from where I stand right now. All I need is someone to give me a brake.

If this article made you smile or shake your head, you may be crazy enough to join me in this radical cause. All you need to do is take a moment to consider that your being late does not actually obligate others to help you make up the lost time. After all, they may also have hit the snooze button just one time too many this morning. Instead, take pity on the other poor souls on the street and choose one courteous driving habit to be your own. Start small and be prepared for setbacks, but keep at it and you might make a tiny difference in someone’s day. You might also make a difference in your day. There is the outside chance you could save the life of someone you really care about, but it will probably go unnoticed.

About the Author: Boruch Wahrhaftig resides in New York when not visiting China, Israel and South Africa. His writing on culture, science, and personal well-being is published in the USA and globally. Books on inspiration within nature and edible science are under construction.


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