Friday, June 30, 2006

Who asked?

There's a certain art in asking rabbis questions. Depending on how you word things, you'll get different answers. The same goes for polls, referendums and the like. Only a simple 1+1=2 is absolute.

I'm disgusted with the headlines:
Rabbis Forbid Hitchhiking at This Time

First of all, if you read the article clearly, you see that the information given is not so black and white. But more important is: Who asked the rabbis? And what exactly did they ask?

The normative, accepted procedure is that a person ask a rabbi his own question. That means that if a reporter asked a rabbi: "In principle, is it forbidden, at this time to hitchhike?" Nobody is required to obey the rabbi except the person who asked, who probably doesn't even need to "take rides."

A few years ago, when terrorists were shooting Israeli vehicles on the roads near us, the school I work for was trying to pressure me into traveling a very long, inconvenient route, which would have made my working there impossible. They also wanted me to sign away their responsibility. Or maybe they just wanted me to quite, and if I quit, I wouldn't get full compensation.

After a very unpleasant time at work, when waiting for a ride home at the "half-way" location of Ofra, who should arrive, but my local rabbi, Rabbi Elchanan Bin Nun, and since I was the only passenger, I was able to ask him very specifically what to do. He told me to continue traveling as usual. And he knew exactly what that meant, that I'd be hitchhiking.

The roads were a lot more dangerous then.

I asked my personal question to my community rabbi and I got my answer. It's a lot of nerve of the media to publish "rabbinic responses" as if they apply to all.


Anonymous said...

If you read R Melamed's answer to the question of hichhiking in this week's B'Sheva magazine, he essentially says "continue to hichhike, but take elementary precautions". Apart from that, picking up hichhikers is a sort of "Hahnasat Orhim" (welcoming of guests), which is a great Mitzva; it enables the driver to share something with others and not just travel in his cocoon on wheels. It also gives the driver a sense of security that he is not alone, especially at night on less travelled roads - and more than once, the hichhikers helped me not miss a turn when getting to an unfamiliar destination in the Shomron!

Batya said...

Yes, I, as a hitchhiker, consider it a very special part of my "social life."

I complained to A7 about the headline.