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Jun 19, 2007

funny story of a chassid hitchhiking

A friend of mine told me the following story last night.

My friend is a very enthusiastic "hitchhiker picker upper" (while I am not). He pretty much picks up "trempers" (as we call them in Israel) whenever he can.

He was driving through RBS B (the chassidishe neighborhood of Bet Shemesh) yesterday and he picked up a chassidic hitchhiker.

The are driving on and my friend, the driver, hears the guy in the back seat munching on some chips. He turns and sees the guy had picked up some chips that his kid had left in the car, and was eating them.

He said to the guy, "Enjoy the chips, but next time you should really at least make the bracha out loud so I could hear and be zoche to say "amen to it."

The guy agreed and proceeded to make the bracha out loud.

Side note: The guy must have been in a pretty dire financial situation to have the gall to see some stale chips laying on the seat in someones car and pick them up and eat them.

17 comments:

  1. Explanation of the irony of the story for any of the readers who are not familiar with Jewish law: The man made the bracha after he had already been eating the chips. A blessing on food is supposed to be made before eating the food. When a chassidic looking fellow is the one in the spotlight, one would assume he had already made the bracha, but he said it quietly. The driver was pointing out that he should have said it aloud. The fact that the rider then said the bracha, means he had not said it before he began eating, something one would not expect of a chassidic Jew.

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  2. An additional irony - it's geneally condsidered that one who does not say a bracha is considered to have "stolen" the food from Hashem. But stealing from the guy giving him a ride - apparently that's OK.

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  3. One more note - I wouldn't necessarily assume the guy was in any unusual financial situation. Unfortunately, that kind of behavior may pass for normal in certain parts of both general Israeli and chareidi/chasidish societies (certainly both!).

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  4. yoni - I still think the assumption is safe. It is kind of disgusting, actually. chips on the seat of a car. Who knows where they have been, how long they have been sitting there, etc.. he must have been pretty hard up to eat them...

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  5. Thank you for this post, it really put into sharp focus a nasty aspect of Israeli society that has been bothering me since I made aliyah.

    Namely, the complete niggerization of chassidishe yidden.

    Back in the days when I, too, could afford to own a car in this Glorious State of Workers and Peasants, I would also offer rides to chassidishe residents of RBS-Beit. I found them all to be engaging and friendly, actually. Many times they actually wanted to—gasp—talk in learning. They never failed to wish me success on my aliyah.

    I remember one time I picked up a guy who actually seemed to be in pretty dire straits—he asked if he could have a bag of stale bamba that one of my kids had left on the seat. I assented, but I sure wish I had had something better to feed him. (I don’t recall if I had to give him mussar on hilchos b’rochos.)

    He seemed hungry enough to eat almost anything. I wonder if your friend’s passenger was in a similar situation. There are some Chassidim who are baalei t’shuva, who were dancing in discotheques six months ago and have now in effect become geirim, leaving behind chiloni family and, more importantly from an Israeli standpoint, their ***chevra***. They often do find themselves in dire situations at a time when they are still learning halachah.

    Your friend couldn’t be dan l’chaf z’chus with the guy?

    Tell you what, next time some guy in a 2005 Toyota Avensis with one of these fancy ear-piece cellphones clamped onto the side of his head (topped by a little tiny black felt kippah) is honking at me to get out of the street, I’ll be dan him l’chaf z’chus too, okay?

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  6. I am not sure I understand your point.
    Dan him l'kaf zchus for what? for the bracha issue? All he did was request that next time the guy make the bracha out loud. He did not accuse the guy of not making a bracha. Then the guy made a bracha. I thought that was a funny story because it goes against your impression of a situation, which is basically what humor is. He did not condemn the guy.

    Dan l'kaf zchus about picking up hitchhikers, in other words, maybe he is upset that a hitchhiker stole from him? I mentioned that this guy very enthusiastically gives rides all the time, whenever possible.

    taking the food? When he heard the guy eating he told him he could have it, just to make the bracha out loud so he could say amen.

    What about the story upsets you?

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  7. Refoel,

    I'm glad you'll be dan l’chaf z’chus the next Avensis driver you see, but that would usually imply that there's an impetus to judge him unfavorably. What's so unfavorable about driving an Avensis?

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  8. i'd assume loose potato chips lying around the back of a car are hefker

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  9. I think technically it cannot be hefker as long as it is still in his possession. It might, however, be considered worthless. He was probably too embarrassed to ask if he could have them and figured they were garbage...

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  10. Rafi- the Avensis is a Toyota sedan, positioned higher than the mid-size Camry, I believe.

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  11. btw, we call them trempists (or trempistim), not trempers.

    secondly, as an avid tremp-giver AND taker, it would bother me to have to listen to a trempist eating chips in my car, even if they were his and he had made the bracha loud and clear.

    i know this was just supposed to be a cute story, but maybe a "slice of life in israel" post should be about the unspoken trempist etiquette. when i receive tremps, the rudest thing i allow myself to do is to doze off for a few minutes. otherwise, no talking to fellow trempistim, no talkin on cellphone, munching on chips, etc.

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  12. oh yeah, one more thing to consider besides the noise of munching. i wouldn't want his or anyone's chip crumbs all over my back seat.

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  13. it would annoy me too. I guess his car was obviously already dirty, so it did not annoy him!! :-)

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  14. " I guess his car was obviously already dirty"

    i thought that was implied from the story because i assumed your friend is from rbs. (explanation: families in rbs have a lot more kids than average. i know my car is pigsty with just one kid, so . . .)

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  15. "the rudest thing i allow myself to do is to doze off for a few minutes."

    what about soldier? i always feel bad for them when i pick them up and they fall asleep.

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  16. As a frequent "trempistit," I'm very uncomfortable by the story.

    Don't worry; the post will be in HH! Check out my blogs on Sunday, b'ezrat Hashem!

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