Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Newest Vice

So there’s this joke going around about a pious hassid looking for a parking spot. After twenty minutes of driving around the lot, he starts praying, promising God that if only he gives him a parking spot, the hassid will take upon himself more stringencies, more prayers, more money given to charity. This goes on for another full fifteen minutes, and finally someone pulls out of a spot. “Never mind,” the hassid says to God. “I found one.”

I like this joke. It has many uses. Unfortunately, some of the top rabbis in Jerusalem have conspired to make it unusable. Accoring to a report in YNet, driving a car is no longer considered appropriate for the truly pious student of Torah. This week, the heads of one of the main Jerusalem yeshivas expelled four students because they got driver’s licenses. Nor are they alone. According to YNet, “Most ultra-Orthodox rabbis oppose the notion of a haredi person getting a license. “‘It’s inappropriate for a person who defines himself learned in the Torah to have a driver’s license,’ a prominent rabbi told the yeshiva director when the latter came to consult him on the issue.”

For the life of me I do not know what sorts of evils the rabbis believe result from driving, or what this has to do with Judaism. True, Moses and King David did not drive cars. But neither did they take the bus. We do know that, according to Genesis, Rebecca rode a camel. Abraham rode a donkey. So did talmudic rabbis like Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Elazar. So will the messiah one day. And I suspect that the vast majority of the ultra-Orthodox yeshiva’s donors do drive cars — those who cannot afford to hire a driver. Is it an environmentalist thing? Fear of exposure to immodest billboard ads?


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.