Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

Do you know who really knows everything? The cab drivers in Eretz Yisrael. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. Actually, you don’t have to ask them, they’ll tell you themselves.

Whenever I’m in Eretz Yisrael I have my fair share of ear-chewing from the incomparable cab drivers of Yerushalayim. This included harangues about life, running the country, why it would or wouldn’t snow in Jerusalem, what it means to be a bar mitzvah, and generally about why every other driver in the country is “dafuk” except for themselves.


One of my favorite moments was, when to the consternation of our cabdriver, someone honked him. He opened his window and screamed “lamah (why) beep beep?” It was only seconds later when he himself honked someone else that I bit my tongue to stifle myself from calling out “lamah beep beep?”

It’s even more exciting when the driver wants to prove to you how religious he is! [No one ever sang Aishes Chayil to me before!] What’s more, all this happens while the nehag (driver) is trying to maneuver his way through the impossible Jerusalem traffic. The way they traverse those circular intersections make American roller coasters seem lame.

Despite all that I was still surprised when on two occasions the driver of the cab I was in decided to pass a cop in the left lane. It’s just not something you see Americans doing. But then again, in America you never hear people screaming at cops in their face either.

A few years ago, I mentioned to a cab driver that I really got a kick out of Israeli cab drivers, especially when they cut off cops. When I told him that such a thing would never happen in America, he quickly replied that I was wrong. He then related that he was once driving in Florida trailing a cop going about 60 MPH. After a few minutes he became impatient (shocking!) and decided to pass the cop. As he was passing in the left lane, he turned to look at the officer. In his words ‘the cop was wearing the most ridiculous hat I had ever seen in his life, along with a silly beige uniform’. [It was obviously a state trooper – who aren’t known for the senses of humor or flexibility.] He couldn’t help himself and began laughing uncontrollably.

Moments later the trooper pulled him over. He lowered his window, and the cop began ranking him out. In the driver’s words, “I speak English good, but I really couldn’t understand what in the world the cop was saying. He was speaking too fast. After he finished, I said to him, ‘Listen officer, I don’t know if you will give me a ticket or not. But I’m a tourist and I just have to take a picture with you!’”

Would you believe that the cop agreed to be in a picture with him and then let him go without issuing him a ticket? Only Israelis!

All of us have fears and anxieties that hold us back from greater accomplishment. At times it’s self-doubt, other times it’s fear of failure, and yet other times it’s feelings of inferiority, unworthiness, or simply lack of time and resources. Often, it’s a matter of having the guts to pull into the left lane, jump into it and bypass our fears. How often does it happen that when we finally overcome our inhibitions that we look in our rearview mirror and laugh at ourselves – ‘how could that have held me back for so long?’ But we have to have the courage to traverse our fears first.

We can’t always wait for opportunity to arise. More often than not we have to be ready to overcome our inhibitions and thereby create opportunities… even though at times it may mean dealing with the sirens in the rearview mirror.


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Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author as well as a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ. He has recently begun seeing clients in private practice as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments and speaking engagements, contact 914-295-0115 or [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at