MAILBAG: Call To Stop a Making Chillul Hashem In The Catskills

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The Catskills, Upstate New York, or “the country” as it is called, is a wonderful place for families to spend the summer, and get away from the city. It is also the place where many people live year round, where they have chosen to live for its less hectic environment, the peacefulness and quiet.

Even when we are on our best behavior, simply by our large numbers, we interrupt their way of life and get in their way. And when some people don’t even bother to try to behave in a mentshlich, courteous manner, it causes even more dislike and resentment, whether with reckless driving, poor behavior in stores, littering in parks…

Over the years, I have said things to people who I felt were really causing a Chilul Hashem, which ultimately impacts us all regardless of how we ourselves behave.

Recently, I was parking in Walmart’s parking lot in Monticello, and I watched a young couple in a large SUV park in a handicapped spot and calmly get out of their car with a baby and walk into the store. They did not have handicap plates or a permit, and were B”H able bodied. I followed them in and approached the woman, and I told her that she should please tell her husband to move their car since it’s not right to park in a handicapped spot. She answered me – and I could not believe it – “Oh we figured since we have temporary plates we can’t get a ticket so why not?!”. I told her it’s really a Chilul Hashem and it affects us all, you need to tell your husband to move your car.

When I came out of the store 45 minutes later, their car was still parked in the same handicapped spot!

I am not sure which was worse. That they parked in a handicapped spot, or that she didn’t seem to even realize what my point of going over to her was. She seemed to think I was concerend that she would get a ticket for parking there, when that was not my intention at all. It was to avoid Chillul Hashem.

Each of us has got to be careful to do the right thing, even if we think we can “get away with it”.

If I as a Frum person get frustrated from this type of behavior, how much more so will the local people resent us!

Name withheld upon request.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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41 COMMENTS

  1. I have a handicapped permit. I will come to the shul at night and I cannot use the handicapped spot because some young mother is in her SUV waiting for her precious yingle to come out of the boys learning program.
    Poor example for children to see.

  2. Once someone blocked the small path from my house to the main path. I put a note on his windshield with the words בור ברשות הרבים and a reference to the gemara (Baba Kama 28a – daf koach) that says that if someone fills another person’s yard with jars the homeowner can kick them out of the way even if they break. He never blocked my path again. In your case Eman I would first reprimand her and if that does not work call the police.

  3. A rather naive comment as temp tags get traced back to the owners anyhow. If it’s a leased vehicle the leasing company may add it’s own processing fee. In San Francisco violations run to well over $1000 plus points.

    In addition to this letter, I would of advised you to call 911/Sullivan County police on your way out to have them issue the ticket and let this fine young bayis neeman b’yisroel learn their lesson the hard way, because they will do it again and again.The flapping paper on the windshield would also serve as a warning to many others who saw it (and don’t give me this mesira garbage). Perhaps then Reb Yiddle will find the 5th volume of Shulchan Aruch somewhere in the back seat of his fancy leased SUV.

    In addition how do you know someone in need of that spot such as a paraplegic or a veteran that liberated yidden from a concentration camp can’t get groceries with their caregiver because of some lazy shmekle who took the last handicapped spot? Shame on them.

  4. Most likely that young couple lives a life of following the Torah because they HAVE to, not because they WANT to- which is really sad. With the upcoming Yomtov of Succos, one can “get away with” and not “have to” eat in the succah beyond Kiddush/Hamotzei the first two nights. The Biblical mitzvah is kiddush/hamotzei the first night (many say the first two nights). I (like many) eat in the Succah each day of Succos because I enjoy the connection and rewarding meaning. Concluding, I can “get away” with Chillul Hashem in various places in my travels, but don’t “take advantage” of the “opportunity”. It’s all one’s perspective in life, Torah, and kiddush vs. chillul Hashem.

  5. We all need to work harder on understanding the depth of the mitzvos we do and aveiros we refrain from. We need to imbue our children with those Middos through our actions.

    I distinctly remember R’ Avigdor Miller ZT”L talking about how ironic it is, that a Yeshiva boy could be learning Bava Kama (which discusses property rights), in a stolen Gemara (he “borrowed” without permission from the shul).

    qsman – while calling the police might teach him a lesson, it is probably mesira.

  6. i have a handicap sticker. if i see a non-handicap space nearby, i leave the handicap space for someone whose need may be greater. a yid darf seine ehrliche, de galache iz frum. if you see a car parked in a handicapped space without a sticker, call the police immediately.

  7. Sadly your point is so relevant and not even only in the mountains, or in ‘the country’ as you cutely referred to it. We do this all over! Why are we double parking? Why are we blocking others driveways? Why are we passing other cars on the right? Why are we making U-turns over double yellow lines? And the list sadly goes on! And aside for these exames being illegal they are super dangerous too, irrespective of the law. If Hashem is not proud of it He is ‘nischaleil’ and that constitutes a chilul Hashem. In last week’s kriah the Ribono Shel Oilam refers to us AGAIN as His choice nation! Then we have to reflect that royalty, that regal behavior. As for the country folk, their opinion of us is in-born negativity because we invaded ‘their’ domain. And how dare we! They easily forget the mega dollars that we bring to ‘their’ local municipalities. It’s not their opinions of us per se that is really cause of the chilul Hashem that you talk about – it’s our regular behavior! We need some self introspection.

  8. No need to go to the 5th Shulchan Aruch. Moser mammon chaveiro lemalchus is already in the first 4.

    Not to justify their behavior at all chas veshalom. But calling cops is probably mesirah.

  9. midwesterner: You have no knowledge of the subject, clearly, because calling the police is probably al pi din the correct action to take given that in certain instances illegal parking can cost someone their life. Mesira simply does not apply in a medina shel chesed like America where we are free to learn and live and act as we see fit while the government protects us rather than harass us.

  10. Yaapchik – You were spot on. It couldn’t have been said clearer. Both parts are so true unfortunately. 13 ave is a nightmare during the year ONLY because of everyone’s constant violations of the laws of traffic and complete carelessness about any other human roaming this planet. And the goyim in Fallsburg hate us just for intruding “their domain”. They don’t seem to understand that this is America, and everyone has the freedom to move and live wherever they please at any moment, EVEN a jew!!! So the fact that they hate us, is not our concern. It is the fact that our overall behavior in the outside world that Hashem is not always so happy with that should concern us.

  11. Yaapchik, agree with you. Many of these actions happen around zman tefillah, which is no excuse. One should give himself extra time to find an appropriate parking spot before minyan or walk. Better to skip the minyan if one doesn’t have the maturity to park appropriately.

  12. midwesterner:

    Are you so sure that calling cops to ticket a car is mesira? There is no court, no arrest, no “crime”. The alternative is chilul Hashem. Maybe there is the issur of לא תעמד על דם רעך that the parker is violating, and this not only protects others, but him, too.

    People seek to call any inconvenience an issur, and mesira is a favorite. Certainly gets mileage points. However, way more than 95% of people who use that word know bupkis about the involved halachos. So before pronouncing the call to cops an issur, go learn some Shulchan Aruch first, and investigate the many areas that are exempt from the issur of mesira.

  13. I think some of this behavior is left over from the old country, where the governments were openly anti-Semitic and passed laws to harass Jews. The idea seems to be that only halacha counts, and civil laws, dina d’malchusa, can be broken at will, and that it’s even clever to do so. There’s also the attitude, thanks in part to mistakes in our educational system, that the opinions of non-Jews and non-frum don’t count, so why care.

    This spills over into breaking rules and doing things which ought to be simple mentschlichkeit. You refrain from parking in a handicapped spot not because you’ll get a ticket, but because you could cause problems to someone who’s handicapped. We’ve already managed to broaden our focus from shmiras halashon to ona’as devarim, thanks to the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. How about we take the next step and start programs promoting mentschlichkeit?

  14. Will ignore the gratuitous and inaccurate insult.

    How, pray tell, is parking illegally in a handicapped spot, going to cost anyone his life? Mesira does not apply in America? Who paskened that? Mesira on nefashos is very unlikely around here. However, moser mammon chaveiro lemalchus absolutely does apply!!

    Just because someone did something wrong, and probably needs to learn a lesson, who put you in charge of teaching him that lesson at a financial cost to him?

  15. Calling the police to have them ticket and tow the van parked in a handicap space is not mesirah…it would be a big mitzvah since you would be facilitating access fo someone with a disability. If they are forced to park at some distance from the entrance to th store, they could c’v slip, hurt themselves, have breathing difficulties or who knows what. For the offending couple, they won’t go to jail…just have to bail ou their car from the tow lot or more likely, simply pay a fine. If they refused to move the van AFTER being alterted to their risky behavior, they really do deserve to spend a night in jail.

  16. There is mesira on nefashos and mesira on mamon. Two separate issues. People who are fond of quoting the fifth shulchan aruch are frequently ignorant of the first 4.

    BK 117. Rambam Chovel Umazik. Choshen Mishpat 388 v’od.

  17. The write writes a very serious point and absolutely needs to be addressed but when the write states “She seemed to think I was concerned that she would get a ticket for parking there, when that was not my intention at all”, the writer killed it….. Why didn’t you care, the vehicle owner will get a financial fine? maybe they didn’t realize the severeness of the violation ? maybe he is a new driver? Maybe it was an emergency (bathroom?) I see them both as the same mitzva, to make aware someone that he might get a fine?? !! and yes, to cal cops to give someone a fine, even when he is clearly wrong, is absolutely mesirah and is forbidden …

  18. To Those Concerned about the Parking Spot at Walmart:

    I urge you to Put Pressure On Peleg Rabbis to STOP HAFGANOS RIOTS in Israel to STOP inciting Hate and Anger over Having TO FILE EXEMPTIONS FORMS From Army Encouraging Bochrim to Riot In Streets BLOCKING HUNDREDS of People in Cars, Buses, from reaching schools, Hospitals, Work, Homes, Shops, causing extreme Distress and Harm to Hundreds and thousands of innocent people.

    They say Filing Exemptions wastes time from Yeshiva And is Not good environment to be in for that hour at the Office while filing exemption. How Hypocritical! It’s OK to waste Thousands of people’s time in Traffic Jams And Streets are a Good environment?? And the reason they don’t want to file exemption is Some of these guys are NOT Learning all day and are wandering streetS.

    They are also taught to yell at Soldiers and Bus Drivers Disgusting Names . This is the biggest Chillil Hashem Of all. How dare they abuse Soldiers who are just following the Law and Risking their lives to stop terrorists! Soldiers and Bus Drivers don’t write the Law.

  19. Reb Koylellman,

    The writer told them the problem. 45 min later Shmekle did nothing, perhaps due to sholom bayis communication issues. Shmekle needs an onesh. Writer should not smash windows or grafitti car. Writer uses police officer as shliach RBS”O to send financial message and as siman to improve sholom bayis communications., and not C”V physical yesurim to convey message to Shmekle.

    Ich bin nisht kin lamdan ubber a ball sechel, hopefully.
    Shkoyach and a ksiva vchasima tova as Jews are wont to wish each other this time of year

  20. The absoluthe chutzpah of the wife is beyond belief. Since we Jews are all responsible for each other perhaps there is a creative way to teach this family a lesson.

    For example, since their behavior shows a total disregard for the law, perhaps you could park your car in such a way that it would block theirs, so that when they came out of the store they would have absolutely no way to move their car.

    Then let them have to go into the store and ask to page over the loudspeaker to have the owner of the car that’s blocking theirs come out. Perhaps this embarrassment would teach them a lesson.

  21. Calling the police is definitely not mesira. Anyone who endangers the community can be reported (Rema CM 388:12 ). While we are on the subject of chillul Hashem I was very saddened to see that two obviously “frum” Jews are on the FBI’s fugitive list for a $33 bank fraud. Even worse, on the wanted posters the occupation of one is given as “rabbi” and the other “may currently manage a Jewish religious center.

  22. Let me start my wife is in a wheelchair and I was parked in front of a store on a designated space for disabled without the permit my wife went into store with her electric wheelchair and i stayed out side talking to a friend after two minutes comes yiddish lady screaming on me why are you parked here but i ignored her my point is sometimes they can be parked there legal even they don’t have a permit please don’t always judge so fast!!

  23. My brocha to all of you who are pro calling the police, i.e., mesira, for a handicap spot infraction, I hope the One Above heard your words and turns them on YOU.

  24. Baba Saba: You are massively incorrect. You are still creating a chilul hasten since how is an outside observer to know your circumstance? If you do not or forgot your certificate , then you have absolutely no right to park there because of the chilly hasten and resentment you cause…

  25. Baba Saba, though I wish your wife a refuah shleima and she appears to rightfully need the handicap spot, without that tag or symbol on your license plate you are at fault for parking there. I’ve seen situations like yours where the driver in in a wheel chair but doesn’t have a handicap sticker, and although I certainly won’t question or call police I can’t blame someone else who might. Once your wife is inside the store, there is no way to know if the car is truly belonging to a handicapped individual or not without the sticker

  26. Besides the ticket worries and chilul Hashem. Think a little bit why these spots were set up in the first place. Where are our hearts. My parents are both on walkers. These spots are literally lifesavers for them. What is happening to our ultimate goals to be an am kodesh if our hearts turn to stone. ?!?! Something very wrong here….

  27. Baba Saba
    Unfortunately, you’re incorrect. It is illegal to park in a handicapped spot in NY without either a permit or disability plates. Being disabled qualifies you for the plates or permit but not to use a handicap spot.

  28. Quite frankly the writer is almost as bad the driver.
    You were concerned about a chilul Hashem, how about being concerned about the disabled people that won’t be able to shop because of these selfish idiots?
    The reason to tell them off and\or call the cops is for the sake of the disabled, not because of the potential chilul Hashem.
    Chilul Hashem implies it’s had because the goyim might see. I find that to be very uninspiring.

  29. eman /Gadol etc,

    Most “handicapped” permits are a complete JOKE and that is the real scam!

    99% of the times I see a one park with the “permit” is perfectly capable etc, – he/she just got one via a family member or friend that has a couple. I rarely see one with an issue getting out of a vehicle, (the ones with issues are the ones that usual stay aboard) so pleasse.

    However, it is indeed an issue of Chilul Hashem ,generally, attitude wise and from both ends.

    drYidd,
    EXACTLY!

  30. Baba saba,

    Exactly my point – the people who REALLY need it do not have the permit, while the ones who really do NOT need it end up using it! That is a fact most of the times.

    Anyone else have the same experience?

  31. Baba saba:

    Either obtain and display a permit, or just respond to the screaming woman. She had good reason to challenge you and you have a valid answer. It’s not about judging fast. Just answer her, or display a permit.

  32. “Maybe there is the issur of לא תעמד על דם רעך that the parker is violating”

    Can you explain how exactly a “parking spot” at a Walmart escalates to דם רעך!! It is one thing next to medical or hospital etc.
    But a Walmart? What if all wheelchair spots are taken..?
    Yes! it is absolutely wrong but people really need to chill..

    “In San Francisco violations run to well over $1000 plus points.”

    Hmm if I was ever doubting…. you just confirmed it by quoting “San Fransiko”, the ultimate place to check your logical sense..

  33. Don’t do as I do, do as I say. And the rules don’t apply to entitled yuppies/millennials who have zero respect or consideration for others. This attitude of “too bad, zu kumpt mir” is pervasive in every frum community. I have no idea if it is a universal problem, but if it is, it’s no excuse. Frum people are supposed to be better than this.

  34. not every disabled person is in a wheelchair. someone could look perfectly fine but has other issues.
    it doesn’t give you a pretext for taking the spot

  35. We need the Gedolim to speak out on it as soon as possible. Preferably in Yiddish, and then it can be translated if needed. We should also encourage “upcoming yom hadin” essays that reference this type if behaviour. If we can find a tie in to nistar and how the spiritual plumbing will be affected, this too may help.

    Ah gut gebenched yor.