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5764

The Importance of Driving Cautiously


Written by the rabbi

Dedicated to the memory of
Yaakov Ben Behora

There is much talk these days about the need for drivers to be more cautious; regretfully, though, this has been of little avail. Traffic accidents as a result of careless driving continue to occur on a daily basis, a phenomenon which causes me to wonder: What can possibly be said that will cause careless drivers to drive more mindfully?

An awareness of the number of deaths caused by speeding has not led to slower driving. Knowledge of the number of accidents resulting from passing in a no-passing zone has not brought an end to dangerous passing. This being the case, what can be said that will make an impression upon drivers? People are aware of the fact that careless driving is not a mere violation of the traffic safety laws - it is a serious violation of the Torah law. The act of reckless driving is itself biblically proscribed, even if no accident results. One receives a fine "from above" for such behavior, and fines rendered by the Heavenly Tribunal are immeasurably more severe than those handed out by the police. Up above, every incident of reckless driving wherein the commandment to "protect your lives" is violated, gets recorded. "Know what is above you: a seeing eye and a hearing ear - and all of your acts are being recorded in the book" (Pirkei Avot).
Drivers know all of this, yet it is not enough to curb the continuous wave of automobile accidents.

Let me, though, amend my above generalization, for clearly there are numerous individuals who drive carefully and are mindful of the traffic laws. I assume that the vast majority of those who sit behind the wheel are law-abiding drivers, and that only a small percentage are guilty of careless driving. It is to these individuals that I speak, in an attempt to impress upon the careless the importance of being careful. When a person drives carefully and in accordance with the law, he not only steers clear of transgression, but he also fulfills a Torah injunction to protect life: "You must protect your lives." This is indeed a Torah commandment, and not mere advice.

The religious-Zionist community, dedicated to the completeness of the Land, the Torah, and the Nation; the settlers of Judeah, Samaria, Gaza, and the Golan; their many supporters - all must strive to be worthy role-models in the fulfillment of this exceedingly fundamental Torah obligation.

The manner in which one drives reflects one's overall behavior. Correct, calm, thoughtful driving, carried out with the intention of fulfilling, to the highest degree of perfection possible, the commandment to safeguard human life, can have a positive effect on a person's overall behavior. Such driving can cause all of one's actions to be more mindful, well balanced, and joyous. We will only be able to overcome all of the obstacles which stand in the way of attaining completeness of the Land, the Torah, and the Nation, when we have attained healthy and admirable character traits.

Let us view proper and careful driving as an integral part of our divine worship. Let us exercise our influence upon our entire surroundings to improve driving habits. Let teachers speak with their students; parents with their children. Then, all of our labor will receive a blessing from above: God will help us succeed in our efforts, and will "guide our going out and coming in, from this time forth and forever" (based on Psalm 121:8).



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