Spitting in the face of God

True repentance this Yom Kippur can be demonstrated by waiting for the light to turn green.

Pedestrians crossing street 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Pedestrians crossing street 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
"Don’t bother to apologize if you don’t mean it!”
It is a rebuke many of us grew up hearing from parents or teachers. Another version is: “If you’re truly sorry, prove it!”
During the month of Elul and the first ten days of Tishrei from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur, pious Jews, and even not-sopious ones, spend a great deal of time in penitential prayer, the end result of which they hope will be long life, health and prosperity.
According to Jewish tradition, their fate is determined and inscribed during Rosh Hashana, and sealed on Yom Kippur, though a fatal edict may be reversed by prayer, repentance and gifts to charity.
Among the more common sins of the Jewish people – at least those residing in Israel and New York – is jaywalking. It is almost always a dangerous habit which involves possible injury and risk of life, not only to the miscreant but also to the driver of the vehicle which may collide with the wrongdoer. If there are passengers in the vehicle, they too may be hurt or even killed in the driver’s last-minute effort to avoid a collision.
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Changes in traffic regulations have made jaywalking even more dangerous than it used to be, because drivers turning right now get the green light at the same time as pedestrians around the corner. This means that both the driver and the pedestrian have to be doubly on guard.
While jaywalking can sometimes be understood when a person involved is running to catch a bus that comes at half-hour intervals, the sin is nonetheless unforgivable, especially when the person involved is an errant parent dragging a reluctant child who has been taught at school to wait for the light to turn green. It is amazing how many parents wheel baby carriages across the road in the face of a red light. It amounts to nothing less than spitting in the face of God.
The same thing happens on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, when motorized traffic is reduced to a minimum.
People walking to synagogue often prefer to walk in the middle of the road, ignoring the fact that not everyone observes the halachic (Jewish religious) restrictions of the day and that there are people on two- and four-wheeled vehicles who are delighted to have the opportunity to drive even faster than they usually do.
But even taking into account that there are neighborhoods where there is no vehicular traffic during Yom Kippur, even there things return to normal as soon as the fast is over.
But that doesn’t seem to influence many pedestrians, including prominent members of the legal profession and people who regard themselves as religiously orthodox. They blithely cross the road as if there was no traffic at all, not taking into account that a driver who has fasted for more than 24 hours might be light-headed and not as in control of the vehicle as he or she should be.
Here again, parents are dragging young children into possible peril.
And again, it’s spitting in the face of God.
For goodness sake, if you just asked Him (or Her) to inscribe you in the Book of Life, why are you risking death for yourselves and your loved ones?
True repentance this Yom Kippur can be demonstrated by waiting for the light to turn green. Otherwise just as a fatal edict may be reversed to give a true penitent an extra lease on life, the opposite can happen and crossing the road on a red light can prove fatal.
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