Letter: Mitzva haba B’aveira

Attention fellow drivers. This morning, I was driving down a busy road, when suddenly the car in front of me stopped at an intersection. Multiple boys jumped into his car and he drove off.

But during those approximately 15 seconds that it took for the boys to get into the car, there were approximately 5 to 6 vehicles backed up waiting for him to continue driving and honking away. But the driver only left once everyone was in the car.

The reason I write this letter is not to discourage people from giving people lifts (it’s a nice thing to do if done in a proper and safe manner) but rather to do it in a way that doesn’t cause a chillul Hashem. Sometimes all it takes is to drive up another 20 feet or to pull into a lot or onto a shoulder where it doesn’t stop traffic. Holding up other drivers is stealing people’s time, and also causes unnecessary animosity towards others.

Thank you.

An observer.

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  1. Driving on the shoulder is also stealing time, the cars waiting to make left turns rely on an opportunity to turn when another car is waiting to turn but when cars drive on the shoulder illegal it robs the driver of that opportunity generally costing multiple minutes to each driver waiting

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. But I will go even further. Is there really a proper & safe manner to hitch? Besides for the inconvenience & danger hitching poses to traffic, there are other concerns. Is going into a car with a stranger or picking up a stranger in today’s dangerous times ever safe?! I just don’t get it. This is a tragedy waiting to happen CH”V.

  3. The people hitching also have to know that they can’t just stop and hitch where ever they feel like. Hitching should only be done where there is a shoulder or room for the car to pull over and not block traffic. I see countless times people hitching in places where the car can’t pull over and blocks traffic. People have to start using common sense when hitching as well as when picking up a hitch.

  4. I actually have that dilemma all the time, as a Bochur all the time I said when I have a car I’ll give hitches. But now although I’d still like to give rides, I feel like many times boys wait at inopportune spots that have no place to pull over without blocking traffic, so although I feel bad, I usually won’t stop (unless there are no cars around) maybe it’s a good idea for guys to keep this in mind when choosing a spot to wait for a ride- you’ll prob get one faster if there’s a place to pull over.

  5. exactly the same thing happened to me and in a response to my letter someone wrote that i was not a baalas chesed! so when i had an opportunity to pick up 4 bochurim who were looking for a hitch, i stopped. they eagerly jumped into my car. as soon as i said that they had to wear seat belts in my car, everyone of them jumped out

      • I believe the law is only for front-seat passengers (at least for adults, at least in NJ. It may be safe in back too, but I think most people don’t ask for hat.

  6. I was once waiting near an intersection, but the light was red, so a car right in front of me picked up a bunch of boys, but then the light changed to green while the boys were getting the car, so we had to wait, until the boys were in before we could start driving and I was afraid I’d miss the light. So, I although I think it is a chesed to pick up the boys, they should only wait where they can be picked up safely without blocking traffic or turning lanes.

    • NJ motor vehicle and traffic law njsa 39:4-59 “No person shall STAND IN A HIGHWAY for the purpose of , or while soliciting a ride from the operator of any vehicle other than an omnibus or streetcar”. Waiting on the sidewalk or grass to get a ride IS legal, but only where it’s legal and safe for the driver to pull over and stop

  7. It’s a tremendous zchus to bring yeshiva bochurim to their yeshiva. The world exists in the merit of their learning and avoidas hakoidesh. Yes, some of them should stand in a place one could stop for them, but that doesn’t minimize this zchus in any way. The drivers that waited for a couple of seconds, while the bochurim got into the car, probably also have a share in this mitzvoh. Using minor excuses like dina dmalchusa and seat belts makes you the real loser.

    • Disagree. You have no right to impose your frumkeit on anyone else, not for one second. You steal the most precious thing a person has in this world: time. Yes, its only moments, but that is no excuse. Furthermore, it displays a lack of regard for other people, which in itself is clearly a chillul Hashem b’farhesia.

      There is no more important Mitzva than kiddush Hashem and there is no greater aveira than chillul Hashem and it is a great error to think that, as long as you’re doing a big enough mitzva, a little chillul Hashem is OK. Its not.

    • seat belts are NOT “minor excuses”. I don’t know why the boys refused to put them on, but my car doesn’t move until everyone is seatbelted in. it is the safe thing to do. v’nishmartem.

  8. I have nearly been in multiple accidents on the way to work on the same day particularly on the corner of New Hampshire & Ridge Ave, Ridge Ave & Lanes Mill road and E County line & Squankum RD. I know someone who actually was in an accident because someone stopped suddenly to give a ride. No one talks about wasting peoples time or causing accidents but rather other topics that may be more important. I used to give rides when I first moved here but I stopped 5 years ago when I realized its the wrong thing to do. Safety is important, but it seems to me that it’s a topic no one seems to care enough about. I have a relative who was in a very serious accident because someone blew a stop sign. I know it might seem like I come across extremely frustrated but I have seen so many car related accidents that it bothers me and I never write in to anything but this was a must.

    Drive safe.

    Concerned newbie to Lakewood

  9. You hit the nail on the head. Doing Chesed obviously what we are all about but, please, not at the expense of others.

    Noodles, my friends, gotta use those noodles we were given…

  10. There is no mitzvah here at all, hitches are only a mitzvah if done in a safe way as in pick up and drop off in a place where the car can fully pull over.

  11. I am happy to stop for students, but only when there is a place to safely pull over. How can we get the bochrim to stand where it makes sense to pull over?

    • I don’t think it’s enforceable because the bochrim will break the rule. Some driver’s on the other hand will continue to suddenly stop in the middle of the road without caring who they inconvenience.

  12. Yes, I had these thoughts too — that both the car and the one’s waiting should pull over/wait in a safe spot.
    And also, wear reflectors after shkia — both safe and will help get ride better as are visible! Keep it in your pocket, so you’ll easily have it. It takes only a few seconds to put on and take off. Behatzlacha!

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