Thursday, November 16, 2006

Driving in Frum Communities

This is an issue that has been on my mind for quite some time.

Why is it that so many of us blatantly disregard traffic laws without a second thought.

Why is it that so many Bachurim, and married folk too, seem to think it's nerdy to keep to the speed limit?

Why is that almost nobody actually comes to a complete stop at a stop sign, and only afterwards inches up to see?

Why is it that so few people realize that the pedestrian always has the right of way?

Countless times I have heard Goyim curse or get upset watching us drive. I have even witnessed Goyim, jogging or walking to do exercise, and they carefully calculate when to reach the curb, so that they will not have to stop their movement for a second, when suddenly some Frum guy drives two feet past the stop sign, forcing the person to stop in his tracks and losing the continuous exercise he was trying to do.

So why do we do it?

The only answer I can think of, is that since we are so cloistered in our little world, which is essentially a beautiful thing, we are losing touch with how to interact properly and politely with the outside world.

Nevertheless, from many stories I have read about R' Moshe Feinsten, R' Ya'akov Kamenetzky, etc., it is clear that they were very conscious of constantly making a Kiddush Hashem.

One wonders if anyone of us would politely smile and greet Catholic nuns as they pass by us on the street, as R' Ya'akov always did (see Artscroll biography).


Anonymous said...

I gotta admit, for a Frum guy, you write well and also raise good points. Quite an unusual combination.

Anonymous said...

its about more than just driving - being polite in stores. not dropping garbage all over the place etc... common sense!!

chaverah said...

Welcome frum thinker. Happy to see another frum blogger around. I agree that frum people are so closed up in their little world that they dont see the people around them. But i would have to say driving has nothing to do with that. It is quite difficult to stay under the speed limit and stop fully. We try the best we can. Looking forward to more posts!

FrumP said...

I'd like to parasite here for a moment and plug my blog. By clicking on my name you can reach my blog. My blog may undermine daas torah because I believe daas torah is usually just an abuse of the name of torah to promote people's personal agendas. The way daas torah is applied these days is nothing but a big bezayon letorah. I will also be paying special attention to Lakewood because it's where all of the products of our yeshiva system ends up, and I'd like to take a long hard look at the results of our yeshiva system

Anonymous said...

I agree that many people do not have road manners. However i think it is unfair to make this a jewish non jewish thing. Insurance for young single men is high for both jews or non jews because young drivers are inexperienced but also because they take risks and in general are crazier drivers. I live in NY and most drivers in NY are not nice drivers. Most make rolling stops at stop signs jews and non jews. Of course jews should drive in a more mannerly fashion but it is unfair to say this is a jewish issue this is an issue in general.

aarom said...

Just to emphasize on the last comment. I see people complain sometimes about the so called frum bad driving habits, and it makes me crazy. I see bad aggressive driving all the time and it's almost always the non-jews who are doing it. Sure you have frum jews who drive bad but to make this a frum issue is preposterous. Go to any crowded non-jewish neighborhood and you'll have the same exact problems (double parking, etc.) that everyone thinks only happens in Jewish neighborhoods. The next time anyone wants to make an issue out of nothing like this again they should ask themselves if they are any different than the UN 'Human Rights' Commission where the only human rights abuses they can find in the world are from Israel.

Y.Y. said...

goyim drive just as crazy and wild if not even worse so stop bashing yiddin

Independant Frum Thinker said...

In no way was my post an attack on Frum Jews. It was a post begging ourselves for self-improvement.
We Frum Jews should hold ourselves to a higher standard. Just because others don't drive decently either, doesn't absolve us of our obligation to be a cut above the rest.
I hope this clarifies my intention.
Thank you all for coming and commenting.

David_on_the_Lake said...

Welcome to blogworld..
I dont think it has anything to do with Jewish or not Jewish.
People in NY drive aggressively/fast..that's a fact.
Jews in out of town communities (that are not transplants) drive like the locals do.

Sara with NO H said...

I don't really think it's only frum people that ignore parking and traffic laws. If it was only us, then I don't think the traffic courts would make so much money lol.

anonym00kie said...

i agree that frum jews seem to have their own rules of conduct.. but i dont think its because they live so closed off from the world.. at least not in the driving issue. its not like its ok to drive like a maniac with jews around but not ok in front of non jews. are they more careful when its just jews around? if anything, i think it has to do with the fact that they dont feel that the non-jewish rules apply to them - which might sometimes make sense (maybe) but certainly not in this case..

Anonymous said...

As a goyim living near Lakewood and having to drive through there on a regular basis, I can speak from experience that I feel like I am taking my life in my hands driving down through Lakewood on Route 9. I have countless times almost been taken out by a frum driver not stopping at the intersecting streets, just pulling onto Route 9 without even looking for oncoming traffic, and I am not even going to address the very large amount of children I see in the backs of your cars NOT strapped into car seats or seatbelts. What gives with THAT? Child seats are the LAW. Even if they werent, its just common sense.

megapixel said...

Bachurim= teenage boys/young twenties. no need to say more. they all think the speed limit is a suggestion, and that they are immortal. this transcends religious lines.
and of all the road rage incidents you heard of, how many of them were frum jews?
(But i agree that we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. one jew does something wrong, we all get painted with the same brush, unfortunately.)

FrumWithQuestions said...

Check out my post here about the same issue. As I am going through your blog I see we have more in common than I thought.
1 -


Anonymous said...

Rabbi Avigdor Miller used to say that 'Jews don't like rules' generally. He often brought up the fact that Israel had one of the highest road fatality accident-rates in the world. He'd also point out the poor driving 'habits' of many frum people.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous Jan 15, 11:10 -
Thank you for this interesting piece of information. R' Avigdor Miller's perspective is always very unique and valuable.

Anonymous said...

So far, there have been comments on whether this is a problem of our communities, and, if so, what impact might it have on how we as Jews are perceived. My question is how do we deal with it as a problem within our community.

I am reminded here of someone I daven with. He was fined (not by the shul but by the court) for parking his car so that a homeowner's driveway was blocked while he visited a nearby business.
In other words, he created a major inconvenience for someone by not finding a legal parking spot. The man is a strong supporter of the shul but his behavior seems to speak of a certain egotism or callousness toward others that he needs to work on. I have been torn as to what to do about this. On the one hand, it may have been a one-time lapse. On the other, it may be evidence of an unpleasant side to his personality that I was not previously aware of. I am sure that others in the shul read the same news item as I did or heard about it in some other way. I would like to confront him privately about the incident but I am unclear what to say. To say nothing is the same as saying that it is a matter of no importance or a matter between himself and the person he inconvenienced. However, as a member of the shul, he has negatively affected at least one non-Jew through his actions. I see an obligation to try to turn things around but I don't know what I should say to him.

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