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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Hashana’

Parshas Nitzavim

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 37                                           5772

 

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
September 14, 2072 – 27 Elul 5772
6:46 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

 

Sabbath Ends: 7:50 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Nitzavim
Weekly Haftara: Sos Assis (Isaiah 61:10-63:9)
Daf Yomi: Berachos 44
Mishna Yomit: Nedarim 5:4-5
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 124:3-5
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Tum’as Mes chap. 6-8
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 5:40 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:43 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 5-6

Shabbos: All tefillos as customary, including Av HaRachamim, Tzidkos’cha, however at Maariv, Motza’ei Shabbos we do not say Vi’yehi Noam v’Atah Kadosh.

Sunday, Erev Rosh Hashana, we arise early to say the special additional Selichos found in the printed Selichos. Shacharis as usual – except that we omit Tachanun. We do not blow the shofar this morning in order to create a separation between the customary tekios of Elul and the tekios of Rosh Hashana, which are a command. We also annul any vows that we might have made lest we enter Yom Tov with these unfulfilled vows. This Hataras Nedarim must be done before a court of three who release one of one’s vows. We note from the text of Hataras Nedarim that only those vows that may be annulled are included in this hatara. Some are accustomed to fast half a day, until chatzos hayom (N.Y.C.12:52 p.m. E.D.T.)

We take haircuts, shower and immerse ourselves in the mikveh after chatzos hayom, in order to purify ourselves for this very holy day of Rosh Hashana, when all of mankind are judged.

Sunday evening, when we light the candles (6:46 p.m. N.Y.C. E.D.T.) we recite the blessings “… Lehadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov” and Shehecheyanu …” Mincha (as usual, no textual alterations as we find in the subsequent prayers due to Aseres Yemei Teshuva). For the entire Aseres Yemei Teshuva we add the following in the Shemoneh Esreh: Zochrenu LeChayyim, Mi chamocha. We substitute HaMelech Hakadosh for Hak-el Hakadosh during these ten days. If one forgot and said Hak‑el Hakadosh in place of Hamelech Hakadosh and did not quickly correct himself, he repeats from the start of the Shemoneh Esreh. (In the weekday Shemoneh Esreh we substitute Hamelech hamishpat for Melech ohev tzedaka umishpat). Before Vechol hachayyim we add U’che’sov lechayyim. In Sim shalom, right before the beracha Besefer chayyim . . . Ashkenaz generally conclude the beracha with Oseh hashalom while Sefarad conclude with Hamevarech es amo Yisrael bashalom as usual.

Maariv: Birkas Kerias Shema (concluding Hashkivenu with U’feros . . . Ve’al Yerushalayim, as usual), we add Tik’u bachodesh shofar bakeseh le’yom chagenu. The chazzan then recites Kaddish and adds Le’eila [u]le’eila mikol birchasa in substitution of Le’eila min kol birchasa (some congregations do not make this alteration).

The Shemoneh Esreh is the Rosh Hashana text as found in the Machzor. Following the Shemoneh Esreh, Sefarad add LeDavid Mizmor L’Hashem and the chazzan concludes with Kaddish Tiskabbel – we conclude all Kaddish recitals with Oseh hashalom. Some congregations recite kiddush in the synagogue . We conclude with Mekaddesh Yisrael veyom hazikaron, Shehecheyanu, then Aleinu, LeDavid Hashem Ori (Sefarad have said it at Mincha), the respective Kaddish recitals by mourners and Adon Olam [some add or only say Yigdal}.

As we leave the synagogue all greet each other with Le’shana Tova Tikasevu . . .

At home, Kiddush (the text for Rosh Hashana). We wash for the meal. We recite Hamotzi and instead of dipping the challah in salt we dip it in honey (until Shemini Atzeres). We prepare an apple which we dip in honey as well , and recite Borei Pri Ha’etz. We eat from the apple and then recite Yehi Ratzon . . . Shetechaddesh Aleinu Shana Tova U’mesuka. We also have various Simanei Milsa at the seuda – special foods that symbolize good omens – each with its own beracha. These are found in the Machzor.

Monday morning: The chazzan dons a kittel – in some congregations all congregants don a kittel as well. We then recite the usual tefillos in the Machzor, Korbanos, Kaddish D’Rabbanan. Pesukei DeZimra are said slower and with much concentration. At Nishmas, if there are separate chazzanim for Shacharis and Pesukei DeZimra, the second chazzan begins with Hamelech, then Yishtabach, Shir Hama’alos and half Kaddish.

Today in 1972 – Democratic Hopeful George McGovern Sends New Year’s Wish to US Jews

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Sen. George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential candidate, greeted American Jews today on the occasion of the High Holy Days. “Mrs. McGovern joins me in wishing our Jewish friends and Jews around the world a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,” the South Dakotan said.

“Traditionally,” McGovern’s message continued. “the High Holy Days has been a period for reflection and rededication. Jews have chosen the Days of Awe as a time for the individual to look at himself to examine how he can better fulfill his responsibilities to his Maker and his fellow man.

“Rosh Hashana symbolizes a reaffirmation of the values that have shaped the Jewish role within the world community. It marks a renewed commitment to the task of improving the world unto the Almighty. I join the Jewish community in the prayer that the New Year 5733 will bring a time of peace, Justice and brotherhood for all men.” McGovern’s message concluded.

Q & A: What Constitutes Shemot? (Part III)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Question: Since my daughter in high school started researching the topic of shemot for her school newspaper, I have become more and more confused. Does shemot only include items, such as books and sheets of papers, with Hashem’s name on them? Or does it even include items containing Torah concepts or even just Hebrew letters? For example, how do you advise I dispose of The Jewish Press? Finally, concerning Hashem’s name, must the name be spelled out fully in Hebrew to constitute shemot? What if it is in English in abbreviated form – “G-d,” for example?

Shlomo Newfield
(Via E-Mail)

 

Answer: The Mechaber (Yoreh De’ah 276:9-10), referring to writing and repairing a Sefer Torah, specifies certain names of G-d that may not be erased once written: Kel from Elo-kim and Kah (which is either a name in itself or part of the name of Hava’yah. The Rema (ad loc.) includes alef-daled from Adnut and alef-heh from Eh-yeh. These halachot extend to any writing, but authorities differ on whether they apply to languages other than Hebrew.

My uncle, Harav Sholom Klass, zt”l, helped popularize the accepted style of omitting a letter in the English words “G-d” and “L-rd” in The Jewish Press from its very inception in 1960. In “Responsa of Modern Judaism II,” two of his responses address this issue. The first (Book II, p. 535) stresses that the holiness of G-d’s name is related to it being written in Hebrew. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefilla 14:10) writes, based on various statements in the Gemara, that when Shimon Hatzaddik died, his fellow kohanim stopped using the Holy Name (Shem Hameforash) so that disrespectful and unruly people would not learn it, since the Holy Spirit departed from the Temple.

Many discussions appear in halacha regarding versions of G-d’s names that imply specific characteristics of G-d and whether they may be erased once written. The Shach (Yoreh De’ah 179:11) writes that while the name of G-d is holy only in Hebrew and may be erased – since the word “G-d” in a secular language is not His true name – it is still preferable to be as careful as possible. The Beth Yosef (Tur, Yoreh De’ah 276) quotes the Rashbatz’s opinion that G-d’s name is not holy and may be erased – whether written in Hebrew or any other language – if it was written without any intent of holiness. The Beth Lechem Yehuda (Yoreh De’ah 276:10) agrees with the intention requirement, especially in a secular language, and stresses that if the name was intended for a holy purpose, we are not to erase or discard it.

The Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh De’ah 276:24) quotes the Rema and other poskim to explain that the name of G-d which appears in our siddurim (the letter “yud” twice) may be erased if necessary. He also quotes the Tashbatz who warns that while the name of G-d in different languages may be erased, we still avoid writing it because it may be discarded into a trash basket and will put the Holy Name to shame. In Choshen Mishpat 27:3, the Aruch HaShulchan decries the custom of writing letters in any language using the name of G-d since they are discarded, and when G-d’s name is put to shame, respect for G-d erodes and poverty descends on the world.

In the second related responsum by Rabbi Sholom Klass (Book II, p. 533), he suggests passing the result of his labor, The Jewish Press, along to others after one is done reading it and explains printing the word “G-d” with a hyphen as a method to avoid profaning the Holy Name. He cites Rosh Hashana 18b regarding a feast the sages instituted to celebrate the day Israelites corrected the way they worded notes and bonds so as to avoid mentioning G-d’s name since these documents are ultimately discarded.

My uncle quotes some halachic authorities who allow writing G-d’s name and even erasing it in a secular context (such as on making and destroying coins). The Beth Yosef (on Tur to Yoreh De’ah 276), Rashbatz (ad loc.), and Shach (Yoreh De’ah 179:11) agree that without the writer’s intent to imbue holiness (especially if writing in a language other than Hebrew) G-d’s name may be erased or disposed of.

* * * *

We have received numerous inquiries regarding disposing The Jewish Press after one is finished reading it. One must understand the thought and effort that is involved in the production of a quality publication such as The Jewish Press, especially in our time when newer technology allows us to download complete texts which arrive from various worthy sources and authors. Many of these texts contain G-d’s name (in English) spelled out in various ways, which, in a Torah column, is obviously there for holy purposes.

Some authors ask that G-d’s name not be written out in full; they prefer that their text be edited to consistently read “G-d or L-rd” as the case may be. This practice is in line with the view of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Iggrot Moshe, Yoreh De’ah, 1:172).

Here’s To A Sweet New Year!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Photos by: Reuven and Tamar Ansh


 


Even those people who do not normally make challah all year long usually do find that they want homemade challahs for Rosh Hashana. Round challahs are most traditionally used for this time of year, as a reminder of the cycle of life.  Many people also have the custom to serve sweetened foods as a harbinger to usher in a sweet ad delectable judgement and challah is no exception to this custom! For this reason, Rosh HaShanah challahs are often sweeter than those served the rest of the year. Some add more sugar, others add raisins, still others do both. I enjoy adding all this to my challahs, but with a twist: after they are egg-glazed and ready to be baked, I sprinkle each with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The smell they emit while baking is absolutely heavenly and the taste is out of this world. Truly a holiday treat!


 


Delicious Egg Challahs

 

This is quite a nice recipe, but as challah recipes abound at this time of year, the shaping I would like to demonstrate can be done with any good dough. However, this recipe is quite good, so it’s worthwhile to try it out

 

Makes: 5 large loaves or about 20-25 small individual sized rolls


 


Remember, that if you have a small family or don’t want to use so much challah at once, either halve the recipe or freeze the extra challah.  


 


2 ounces/50 gram cube of fresh yeast or 2 Tablespoons of dry yeast


3-4 cups very warm water, divided


¾ cup canola oil


¾ cup sugar, divided


1½ T. salt


5 eggs


17 cups freshly sifted flour (2.3 kilos of flour/just about 5 lbs. of flour)


1 more egg for glazing


seeds for sprinkling, optional


 


** Variations: for sweeter challahs at this time of year, you can increase the sugar content to one full cup or add one packet (1 Tablespoon) of vanilla sugar or add 1 Tablespoon of honey to your eggs for glazing.  You can also sprinkle a mix of cinnamon & sugar onto your egg glazed challahs directly before they go into the oven.

 

Sift your flour and set it aside. In a small bowl, add 2 cups of warm water, the fresh yeast and ¼ cup of the sugar. Cover the bowl loosely and leave it to activate for about 8 minutes.

 

In the mixing bowl add: oil, salt, rest of the sugar, rest of the water, 5 eggs, 8 cups of flour.

 

Using your dough hook, mix until it becomes a thick mixture. Check your yeast to make sure it activated properly. If so, pour it into your mixing bowl and continue to knead. It should now turn into a sticky dough.  Add the remainder of the flour, slowly, until it is all kneaded in. If the dough is too firm, add bits more oil and water until it is smooth, pliable and non-sticky. Turn the dough out onto an oiled surface and knead for a few minutes by hand to ensure that all the pieces from the bottom of the mixing bowl are equally incorporated.

 

 


 

Separate challah at this point, with a blessing.

 

Place your dough in a large plastic bag to rise. If you are going to bake the challahs that day, let the dough rise until double in bulk, about 1½ to 2 hours, covered in plastic. If you are not baking right away, place the dough, within a large plastic bag, in the fridge overnight or for several hours. After the dough has risen sufficiently, punch it down and get your pans ready for baking. Line all pans with parchment baking paper.

 


Divide the dough into five large equal sized pieces for 5 large challahs. Cut each chunk into the amount of strands you will need (3, 4 or 6). Roll out each piece into a flat oblong circle, and then roll them up jellyroll style to achieve a smooth strand. After you have done this to all the pieces, grease your hands with a bit of oil and roll out each strand to desired length.

 


You can now make simple round challahs, or you can try this really nice technique for a designer look.

 

Place two strands down in front of you horizontally. Place the third strand over those two horizontal pieces, vertically. Then place the last strand over all of it, in the center, but horizontally again.

 


 

 Each side now has 3 strands, and the top and bottom only have one strand. Braid each side as if you are braiding a standard three-strand challah.

 

Snip off a bit from each end of your “three’s” so they won’t be so long. Take this snipped off bit and roll it into a ball. If you want to add raisins into your challahs, push them into this ball. 

 


 

Carefully lift the challah off the working surface. Place the ball of dough underneath its center and fold over both sides of three over it, on the underside of the challah. Now do the same thing with the two loose single strands – just pull them underneath the challah and attach them to the underside, over the other strands. Pinch them gently together and look at your beautiful challah!

 


 

Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C about 20 minutes prior to when the challahs will be ready to bake. Brush the risen challahs with the last egg and add toppings of your choice. Bake for 15 minutes at the above temperature, then turn the temperature down to 350°F/180° C and continue baking until the challahs are golden brown on top and bottom.

 


 


Now here’s a sticky and delicious cake that has lots of Rosh Hashana flavors in it honey, applesauce, raisins

 

Honey Raisin Applesauce Cake


Yields: 9×13 size cake or 2 loaf pans


 


1/2 cup oil


1 & 3/4 cups sugar


1 large egg


1 cup applesauce


1/2 cup honey


2 & 1/2 cups flour


1/2 teaspoons allspice


2 teaspoons cinnamon


2 teaspoons baking soda


1/2 cup water or orange juice


1/2 cup yellow raisins + 1 Tablespoon additional flour


 


Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

 

Place the oil and sugar into the mixer bowl and begin to cream. Add in the egg and mix some more. Add in the honey and the applesauce, mix to a thick, creamy consistency. Add in the flour, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda and water. Mix until smooth. Toss the raisins with the 1 Tablespoon of flour and add them into your batter. Mix until they are just incorporated. Pour into baking pans.

 

Slide the baking pans into your hot oven and bake until they test clean in the center, about 40-50 minutes.

 

 


 


Now that we’ve covered our holiday bases with both round challahs and a nice honey based cake, let’s go on to some foods for the meals. This next one is simple to prepare and is based on one of the simanim we eat for Rosh Hashana, leeks (karti).


 


Leek Patties


2 large onions, diced


2 leeks, cleaned well, diced


2 cloves garlic, diced


2 ribs of celery, diced


3 Tablespoons olive oil


2 teaspoons salt


1/4 teaspoon pepper


4 eggs


1 cup breadcrumbs or matzo meal


1 cup flour


2 Tablespoons additional oil


 


In a large pot, sauté the onions, leeks, garlic and celery until they are softened. Turn off the flame. Add in the salt and pepper and mix it well.

 


 

Scoop the vegetables into a bowl. Crack the eggs into a glass and beat it with a fork. Add to the vegetables, along with the breadcrumbs, flour and additional oil. Mix well to incorporate.

 

Heat a large frying pan sprayed with cooking spray or a bit more oil. Form small patties and fry until golden and crispy on both sides. Stand them up, in a row, in a loaf pan and cover until ready to serve.


 


And here is one more sweet and tasty item for your Rosh Hashana table


 


Stewed Red Cabbage & Raisin Salad


Serves 6 -8


 


1 large head red cabbage, shredded


1/2 head of a small green cabbage, shredded


1/4 cup water


2 large onions, diced


2 large green apples, chopped


2 Tablespoons oil


1/2 cup dark raisins


1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar


1 Tablespoon lemon juice *


 


*Note: During Rosh Hashana many people do not eat sharp or tart foods. I left this in the recipe anyhow as it adds to its flavor but is not readily discernible and the recipe is still sweet.

 

Put the shredded cabbages into a pot, add the 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, remove from the heat and drain in a colander. The cabbage may turn purple or blue.

 

            Saute the onions in the oil for 5-8 minutes. Add in the apples during the last 3 minutes and toss to ensure that they will not burn. Add the cabbage back into the pot, together with the raisins, sugar and lemon juice. Mix it well, Cover the pot and let it simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes. Serves well hot or cold.


 


Kesiva v’Chasima Tova to all and may everyone be inscribed for a happy and sweet New Year.


 


 


Tamar Anshis an author, freelance recipe developer and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide.  Her bestselling books include A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers), Let’s Say Amen (Feldheim Publishers) and Splitting the Sea (Targum Press). Her latest cookbook, A Taste of Tradition: Pesach – Anything’s Possible! Over 350 non-gebrochts, gluten-free, and wheat-free recipes, offers over 350 luscious, Gluten free no-fail recipes designed for Pesach and all year ’round (Targum Press). Tamar’s new one day home course “Tasting the Bounty of Israel” is now available to groups visiting Jerusalem. Contact her via her website www.TamarAnsh.com. 

Here’s To A Sweet New Year!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Photos by: Reuven and Tamar Ansh

 

Even those people who do not normally make challah all year long usually do find that they want homemade challahs for Rosh Hashana. Round challahs are most traditionally used for this time of year, as a reminder of the cycle of life.  Many people also have the custom to serve sweetened foods as a harbinger to usher in a sweet ad delectable judgement and challah is no exception to this custom! For this reason, Rosh HaShanah challahs are often sweeter than those served the rest of the year. Some add more sugar, others add raisins, still others do both. I enjoy adding all this to my challahs, but with a twist: after they are egg-glazed and ready to be baked, I sprinkle each with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The smell they emit while baking is absolutely heavenly and the taste is out of this world. Truly a holiday treat!

 

Delicious Egg Challahs

 

This is quite a nice recipe, but as challah recipes abound at this time of year, the shaping I would like to demonstrate can be done with any good dough. However, this recipe is quite good, so it’s worthwhile to try it out

 

Makes: 5 large loaves or about 20-25 small individual sized rolls

 

Remember, that if you have a small family or don’t want to use so much challah at once, either halve the recipe or freeze the extra challah.  

 

2 ounces/50 gram cube of fresh yeast or 2 Tablespoons of dry yeast

3-4 cups very warm water, divided

Al Chait… (For The Sin…)

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Every year as we sit in shul during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we make a chesbon nefesh – a reckoning of our actions and reactions.  And as we beat our chest and confess our sins, we sincerely promise ourselves that this time we will do better,  that we will improve and make a greater effort to control our yetzer harah – the powerful, human inclination that pushes us to gossip, to be jealous, to be hurtful, and to indulge in activities that we know are wrong and sinful.


Our intention to reform ourselves is sincere – but we usually fall back to our old habits rather quickly. But Hashem has mercy on His flawed children – and forgives us. May He always shower Klal Israel with His chessed – and may we this year successfully challenge ourselves to do His will – even if it’s one mitzvah at a time.


‘Al Chait…  (For The Sin…)’


As darkness falls, we turn on the light,
Thank You, Hashem, for the gift of our sight.
Yet we misuse Your blessing, we cause others to cry,
Envy and resentment bring out our Evil Eye.


When our children call out to us, we have no fear,
For you have blessed us with the ability to hear.
Yet we use this bracha to listen to idle gossip,
Instead of walking away, or trying to stop it.


When we need to communicate, to verbally reach,
We Just open our months for You blessed us with speech.
But we abuse this precious gift, for we lie, and we smear,
We humiliate and belittle, we scream and induce fear.


Our hands enable us to do as we please,
We can touch, we can hold, we can grasp with great ease.
Yet we use Your divine gift to hit, to cause pain.
Even when our minds tell us there is nothing to gain.


We can go as we please, whenever we are ready,
You gifted us with legs that are strong and steady.
Yet we run to do acts that we know are not right,
As we give in to impulses that we choose not to fight.


This Yom Kippur was no different from those of the past,
When we promised to mend our ways, vowing our efforts would last.
Indeed we behaved, we self-controlled, we had some good days –
But too quickly we slid back to our familiar, sinful ways.


You have been so very patient, You forgive us each year,
Truly You are a Father who holds His children dear.
Please continue to love us, though our iniquities persist.
For without Your loving kindness, we would not exist.

Smart Cars – Stupid Drivers

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

From time to time, I am asked where I get ideas for my articles. The answer is simple. Just from getting up in the morning and experiencing life. This week’s column is courtesy of a van driver who, after clearing the intersection, decided he made a mistake and started to go in reverse. Since he did not see anyone the first time he entered the intersection, he assumed that it was OK to re-enter the intersection – backwards. A quick glance in the rear-view mirror would just be a waste of time.

I had made the reasonable assumption that most vehicles go forward and that it was safe for me to cross. After all, the van was headed down the street and the crossing area was clear. Fortunately, I hesitated because this was not the first time I saw cars headed in one direction, that suddenly reverse and back up into the intersection. As far as they’re concerned, stop signs or red lights at the intersection don’t apply if your vehicle is moving backwards.

Sure enough, the backward moving van occupied the space that I would have been occupying – had I stepped off the curb. The driver’s sheepish grin and shrug in answer to my furious glare of “what were you thinking?” probably ended the matter for him – but not for me.

His kind of thoughtless and thought-less driving has become the norm in our cities and towns.

It’s amazing to me that as cars get “smarter” – equipped with navigation systems, tires that adjust to various weather conditions, seat belts that automatically belt you in when the ignition is turned on, etc. – drivers get stupider and more careless.

I have no doubt that those who are reading this article have had their share of “close calls” due to someone’s negligent or careless driving. Tragically, we all know people who weren’t spared and whose lives were prematurely ended by someone else’s mistake. Often these “mistakes” were avoidable and the result of a lack of consideration and a lack of considering crucial factors such as weather conditions, location, rules of the road, construction, etc.

Your actions as you drive- or lack of them – can have a life-altering effect not just on you, but also on other human beings. If the Torah exhorts us to be cautious and not put ourselves in jeopardy due to risky behavior. How much more does that apply in terms of being careful when other people’s lives are at stake!

Years ago, my son Moshe barely avoided being run over by a neighbor (a man with small children at home) who was racing backward down our one way street in his truck. Moshe looked only in the direction in which he was used to looking, as he crossed to the other side – never dreaming that a vehicle was flying the wrong way up the street. Hashem in His mercy had me go out of the house and onto the porch at the right time to utter a warning. I truly believe the donation I had given earlier in the day to a chesed organization for Rosh Hashana is what saved him.

When I see what a fine young man he has become, the positive effect he has had on so many people, I am sickened by the thought of how close we came to losing him so needlessly.

How true this must be for every son/daughter/spouse/parent killed!

Speaking of children, I have seen women from our community, car-pool – their vans full of little ones, both theirs and others’ – chatting on cell phones, while making left turns in heavy traffic, head twisted sideways anchoring the phone onto their shoulder. Turning safely requires a driver’s undivided, focused attention. How can they be so reckless when entrusted with a precious cargo of young lives?

Then there are the drivers who have face-to-face conversations with their passengers, instead of looking straight ahead at the road. Where is it written that while driving, it is impolite to simply talk to the person sitting next to you without looking at them too? The road may be clear, but G-d forbid, if a child suddenly darts out onto the road, or there is debris or a broken tree branch that flies into the car’s path, the lack of attention, even if only for a split second, can have tragic consequences. This is true for people who are busy changing radio stations, getting a snack out of a bag, or taking a swig out of a bottle of soda. Can’t you wait till you get to a red light?

And then there are the impaired drivers – unfit to drive because they drank too much, are on drugs (both legal and illegal), are seriously sleep-deprived, have poor eyesight, or who have compromised cognitive abilities due to old age, disease or medication.

They willfully get into a car because they are in denial about their current inability to negotiate a vehicle – a denial fueled by self-centered behavior and often a blatant disregard for anybody else’s well being.

I am sure Hashem has a special place in gehennom (Hell) for serial drunk drivers who, despite causing immeasurable injury and grief to their victims, continue to drink and drive without shame or remorse, free to operate a lethal weapon. All this, because of lax laws and sympathetic judges, juries and lawyers who, because they too enjoy their alcoholic drinks feel, “there but for the grace of G-d go I.”

Since being a pedestrian these days puts me at risk, I’m tempted to bentch goimel (the prayer for surviving a dangerous situation) at night along with my recitation of Shema. At the very least, when I light my Shabbat candles, I pray that Hashem protect me, those I love and Klal Yisrael, in general, from the reckless behavior of others.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/smart-cars-stupid-drivers/2004/12/15/

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