May 24, 2009

Bimba Drag Racing

3.........2................1...........[gun shoots]. And they're off!

Shabbos in a religious neighborhood means you have very few cars, if any, driving on the streets. That makes it relatively safe for the kids to play in the streets.
One of the favorite pastimes of the kids is what I call "Bimba Drag Racing".

Those little plastic "bikes" pictured to the left are what we call in Hebrew - "Bimbas". I have no idea what they are called in English. They are normally used by 1-2 year olds who cannot yet ride a tricycle.

But on Shabbos they take on a new life. Kids, up to the age of 6 or 7, can be seen riding them down the streets. A real adventurous one will even have a passenger riding along. And being that Bet Shemesh and Jerusalem (and it is popular as well in Zichron Yaakov according to a fellow twitterer) are so hilly (I doubt the Bimbas are used the same way in flatter terrains), the popular Shabbos afternoon activity is rumbling down the streets at high speed on the bimbas.

These bimbas make a tremendous amount of noise, considering the thick hard plastic wheels, and the weight of the 6 year old kid (or two of them) on it, rolling down a paved street, and if the kid rides right by you it feels like the beginning of a mild earthquake.. The best is when the kid hits a speed bump, and it looks like the driver is destined to be thrown from the bimba, but he holds steady and hangs on. Very cool, but very noisy.

The real ruckus is when , as I saw this shabbos, what might be called the bimba drag race. Not just one bimba hurtling down the hill, but 3 bimbas, each with 2 kids on it, were hurtling down the hill at high speed. I nearly lost my stomach watching it, but these kids were in heaven!

Some want to spoil the kids fun. A psak was printed in the local weekly "mekomon" (local newspaper) Chadash that says riding bimbas on shabbos is prohibited. The psak was from the Rav of Kiryat Sefer/Modiin Ilit, Rav Meir Kessler. Rav Kessler bases his prohibition on the fact that it is dangerous (I dont know of any bimba injuries, though I can easily see it happening), along with the fact that it is noisy and robs families of the restful Shabbos. Therefore, Rav Kessler says, using bimbas is prohibited in public areas and Shabbos and holidays, both because of the disturbance, and because of the behavior itself.

Will this be the end of Bimba Drag Racing?


  1. His psak was also printed in the Chadash.

    Though outside our window the road is pretty flat, I only hear them when we go to the park, I can "hear" this psak, as I would hate to try to take a nap and hear that loud rumbling out my window.

  2. Though the cynic in me would say, shouldn't the fathers be out learning, and the mothers watching the children! Who's left for it to bother?!

  3. I thought I wrote that I saw the psak in Chadash...

  4. watching the children?

    are you new here?

  5. I wrote it was in the local paper, forgot to name it. added it now.

    Henry - thanks. It seems God babysits on Shabbos.

  6. I think these are popular in yishuvim, which are also hilly.

  7. It is extremely dangerous. I think people could be intelligent enough to understand a more limited "don't race bimbas down hills".
    I think it is complete negligence for parents to allow their children to do this.

  8. If the danger is enough to contribute to the psak of being assur, why aren't they assur on every day?

    As for the other part of the psak, for those with kids of the age that ride bimbas, they actually contribute to a restful shabbos, since they get them out of the house.

    In our neighborhood, the kids usually ride them down into the center of a smallish park which usually has about 200 kids running around. So far, AFAIK, noone has been hurt.

  9. I also see these kids and think that I would love to have done that as a kid! But, now as a parent, I know that it is extremely dangerous. There is no parental supervision; and, the kids aren't even wearing a helmet. So, maybe someone has a positive suggestion which keeps the kids saftey in mind.

  10. yoni - the danger part of the psak was really mentioned as an aside, and the main part is focused on the disturbance (so I read it).
    As far as the other days of the week, it is not really a problem because the kids dont ride the bimbas in the street. there are too many cars. the drag racing is really only a shabbos activity.

  11. We need to find a way to pimp our Bimbas with silent and heavier silicon wheels.

    Opportunity knocks. Remember to thank me. :)

  12. and of course load them up with turbo propellant, nitro whatever it is called from the real car drag strips

  13. Speaking of child safety...

    In RBS, a women's learning program, "Limudei Lottie", has recently held a couple of talks about molestation. The claim was made that it is "rampant" (in or even in RBS). I heard that the women who attended were completely in shock, and that there is a real need for parents to be educated about the very real dangers and how to talk to children about it and protect them as much as possible.
    Camp season is rapidly approaching.
    Be aware. Be safe.

    Below, I gathered some recent postings about this from the controversial UOJ blog.

    Can anyone confirm or provide any more relevant details?


    RBS..You've Done it Again! said...


    Are you aware that there is another molestation case in RBSA?

    Rumors have it that this time it is a woman perp.

    Do you have any details?

    12:28 AM, May 22, 2009
    Blogger "UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

    Yes, and I'm on it. There are other incidents by rebbes as well.

    12:56 AM, May 22, 2009

    Blogger "UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

    I just confirmed that there has been 16 NEW allegations of child sex-abuse in various yeshivas in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel.

    The UOJ team is on it!

    12:42 PM, May 18, 2009

    Blogger "UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

    I am pleased to report that the community of Ramat Bet Shemesh is organizing - to rid themselves of the plague of child sex-abuse. Recently, a group of 200 women gathered to hear a female child therapist address the illness infesting Jewish communities globally.

    They are determined to address this issue vigorously by contacting the police immediately upon becoming aware of any allegations for them to investigate, confronting the alleged abuser (male and female), confronting the school employing the alleged perpetrator, and taking the police report to the secular media in Israel among other things.




    2:17 PM, May 18, 2009

    Anonymous said...


    I have heard that Akiva Kagan has been arrested and is no longer teaching in Toras Eliyahu.

    Can anyone in RBS confirm or refute this?

  14. Why is the psak just about disturbing parents from sleeping what about disturbing other kids from playing niecly in the parks.
    A few weeks ago I witnessed a group of local kids about 10-11 years old (all with nice black yarmulkas on their head) smashing glass bottles on shabbos afternoon in the swing park at corner of Ayalon/Dolev and threatening other kids who were trying to have a quiet game of soccer. I tried speaking quietly and calmy to them but got very chutzpadik replies. Not one adult came to back me up (and there were at least 10 other adults around). When I finally started shouting out loud at them and told them that they're acting like goyim and told them to get out of here did they finally get scared enough to actually leave the park.
    So I guess as long as they're leting their parents sleep they are aloud to be mechalel shabbes b'farhesiya and be over on other aveiros such as hurting your fellow Jew.

  15. the psak as it was printed in the chadash did not say anything specifically about "sleep". I think the term was "menuchat shabbat".

  16. Perhaps this is the result of all classic definitions of "Derech Eretz Kadma La'Torah" being nignaz for our own spiritual good.


  17. Just a general safety note - since these vehicles are very close to the ground, a fall is unlikely to result in a head injury. Just your normal scrapes and cuts.

    Also, they really don't get going very fast. Very noisy, yes.

    While I understand the need for some quiet and a nice Shabbos shloff, in communities full of children (that's all frum communities), we need positive activities for each age group to enjoy. Otherwise negative activities will arise instead.

    It would be nice if such a psak came along with some suggested alternatives.

  18. Akiva- the letter of the psak even said it is incumbent upon the parents to find appropriate activities to keep the kids and the whole family busy with in the spirit of [quoted a few psukim about shabbos]

    Some shuls have pirchei, and there is avot u'banim. That keeps some of the kids busy part of the day. But on a long shabbos afternoon, there are lots of unaccounted hours...

  19. Kids can go to parks to play. They can even go to friends houses and play boardgames (on 2 conditions: 1) no one is disturbed there; and 2) not Monopoly).

    And of course, they can go to Pirchei, Ezra, Ariel or any other youth group which provides the activities and atmosphere of your choice.

    Really! We need Rabbanim to tell us the ABCs of bringing up proper behaved children? Something is terribly wrong.

  20. not monopoly? why not? because of the money? (why do you specify monopoly over any other game?)

  21. nearly got run over by kids on bimbas in sanhedria the one shabbos we stayed there. racing down the hill like anything! pedestrians need to stick to the sidewalk at all times i guess.

  22. Will this be the end of Bimba Drag Racing?/
    One can only hope...

    This is an issue in our neighborhood as well. Fortunately, we've left our A/C on over Shabbat these past few weeks, and the noise from the bimbas is mostly (but not fully) drowned out.

  23. Rav Kessler gave the psak after several very bad injuries here in Kiryat Sefer.

    Obviously it is only on Shabbos that these bimbas are used in the streets - and they are used by kids of up to 8-9 years old.

    There have been cases of an ambulance hitting a bimba; of a boy coming off and cracking his skull; of broken bones - need I go on?

    Kiryat Sefer is very hilly and in my opinion it is ossur for shopkeepers in the town to sell them.

    BTW - the major Health Funds have all sponsored large ads, informing parents of the dangers.

  24. Dear Shalom - you say it should be assur for shopkeepers to sell!? Well what about selling balls that one kid may throw at another or any game for that matter that can cause bodily harm if hurled at the body? Why don't we just tell al the kids to sit with their hands under their thighs the whole shabbos and not move so that parents can have proper shabbos menucha and have the day off from kids. Kids are lacking basic respect nowadays for other peoples property and public property but that shouldn't come as a surprise since they learn it from us the adults who don't say hello to each other in the streets, don't stop at crosswalks, don't give way to other cars, post all kinds of notices on other peoples property w/o permission and w/o giving 2 hoots about defacing someone else's property. We have to start the education at home and we have to be responsible for our own.

  25. Akiva,
    It is not the height that is the problem. The bimba gains quite a bit of speed going down a hill, if a child crashes or falls of the force with which he hits the road, a parked car, a tree, etc. can be enough to cause serious injuries such as broken bones, concussions, deep wounds requiring stitches, or ch"v worse.
    There is unfortunately a national problem here of lack of parental supervision and lack of safety consciousness. Combine that with a bunch of kids who have way too much energy to release and you can get some serious problems.
    With the bimbas I don't think the kids are trying to disturb anyone they are just trying to have a good time, but unfortunately it isn't safe. Other activities I have seen are malicious, such as pelting children with pebbles from the top of the jungle gym at the park and the chutzpa in responding to adults who chastise them for it.

  26. We also have these "drag races" in our yishuv - and I get a heart attack just watching them. (My kids are too old for Bimbas, and too young for driver's licenses - so I am "safe" for a little while.)

  27. Rafi G. said...
    not monopoly? why not? because of the money? (why do you specify monopoly over any other game?)

    May 24, 2009 2:42 PM

    Even in my modern Orthodox upbringing in the US, we stopped playing Monopoly (used just a classic example) and switched over to games such as Risk, and Avalon Hill war board games, as we approached our Bar Mitzvah ages. :)

    Even the 5725/1965 1st (recalled in Bnei Brak) edition of Rav Neuvirt's Shmirat Shabbat Kehilichata said such simulated money games are Assur to play on Shabbat.

    Now, has anyone asked Rav Neuvirt if we can play Mousetrap on Shabbat?

  28. Risk was big by us. Monopoly only when we were younger. But in general at a certain point we stopped playing Monopoly, not just on Shabbos. I think it was just too neverending of a game at some point.

  29. WBM - watching them hit the speed bumps is the worst for me.

  30. We prefered "Go For Broke" over Monopoly.

  31. sorry, while my kids have moved passed monopoly, we always allow it in our house on shabbos. mekach u'memkar it isn't and it's allowed with the explanation to our kids that it's just a game.

  32. Shaya, I'm not a posek. There is definitely room to understand what "Dumya" LeMekach U'lememkar means.

    That's why I also mentioned Mousetrap, "Dumya" L'tzad. :)

  33. anony-RBS1 - A few weeks ago I witnessed a group of local kids about 10-11 years old (all with nice black yarmulkas on their head) smashing glass bottles on shabbos afternoon in the swing park at corner of Ayalon/Dolev and threatening other kids who were trying to have a quiet game of soccer. I tried speaking quietly and calmly to them but got very chutzpadik replies. Not one adult came to back me up (and there were at least 10 other adults around). When I finally started shouting out loud at them and told them that they're acting like goyim and told them to get out of here did they finally get scared enough to actually leave the park.
    So I guess as long as they're letting their parents sleep they are aloud to be mechalel shabbes b'farhesiya and be over on other aveiros such as hurting your fellow Jew.

    Think of it as practice. In just a few short years, those boys will be throwing rocks at cars that are driving on Shabbat and accosting girls (maybe with acid?) that aren't dressed tzanua enough. Hooligans aren't born, they're made.


  34. I'm glad the topic of board games has come up. Board games have come a long way since Monopoly and RISK. These games, while still fine games, tend to last too long (Though sometimes due mainly to house rules that only serve to lengthen the game), and have too few strategic decisions to make.

    Some newer games are quite enjoyable, for both kids and adults too. I like to describe them as somewhere between Monopoly and Chess. They are easy to learn and get into like Monopoly, but are challenging and enaging for adults like Chess.

    Games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and more complex fair such as Power Grid, Caylus, Puerto Rico, and others.

    You can read about many of these games at

    Many families in the Bet Shemesh area and the rest of the world have been discovering how fun board games can be.

    Did you know that Beit Shemesh had its own board gaming group? We meet weekly on Tuesday evenings in the Givah, and sometimes on Thursdays in the Ramah. New members and guests are always welcome.

    Check us out at

  35. It seems to me that these kids are BORED!! If someone really wants to stop the "drag racing" or bottle smashing someone needs to organize some afternoon activities for kids. Any takers?

  36. Kessler...Perlstein = Min B'mino. V'hameivin Yavin.

    Someone please tell Kessler toots that a Rabbi much bigger then him allows young kids to ride these things.

    Rivevot V'yovlot 2:27


  37. "There is unfortunately a national problem here of lack of parental supervision and lack of safety consciousness."

    Sorry anon, it's not a national problem, it's a charedi problem. My brother in har nof let's his 7 year old tote his one year old around outside, across the street and up a steep flight of stairs to visit an aunt. Is that normal? I've never heard of a non charedi family allowing such a thing. I'm not sure what goes on in D'l yishvim, maybe it's similar, but the lack of supervision or leaving supervision of very young children to slightly older children is really mostly a charedi problem.

  38. Commenter Abbi,
    I am not charedi. I live on a block where the overwhelming majority are not charedi. There are anglos and there are native Israelis.
    It is an ISRAELI problem not limited to charedim. One of my kipa seruga neighbors has his 3 yr old out by himself all the time, once he was walking around playing with a utility knife. I see the kids riding their bikes in the street. The little Israeli kids are without helmets or supervision.
    The list goes on. And yes it is a generalization and there are plenty of exceptions on both sides.
    I don't live much among chilonim, so I can't say what it is like with them.
    When I lived in a more charedi neighborhood, I saw the problem mostly with Israelis.
    The charedi community has a lot of problems, unfortunately this one is not unique to them. Fortunately the charedi Americans have largely retained this part of their American culture, and I hope that they continue to do so. I am sorry to hear that your brother hasn't.

  39. One more thing,
    the completely unsupervised bimba racing near my home is dati leumi and I think some chilonim as well, and this even though there are cars occasionally on this street on Shabbat.

  40. Rafi, have you ever gone back and looked at old posts? This post came to me when I was doing a search and my keywords were contained in this post somewhere. Interesting to take note how a couple of years later how some things have changed and some things have not.

    I don't think Bimba races are any more dangerous than many other things kids do. I live on a hilly street that is a regular Bimba speedway on Shabbos. The noise used to bother me. But I now sort of view it as a partial fulfillment of this pasuk, quoted at the end of Meseches Makkos, from זכריה ח:ד,ה

    כֹּה אָמַר ה' צְבָאוֹת, עֹד יֵשְׁבוּ זְקֵנִים וּזְקֵנוֹת, בִּרְחֹבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם; וְאִישׁ מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ בְּיָדוֹ, מֵרֹב יָמִים. ה וּרְחֹבוֹת הָעִיר יִמָּלְאוּ, יְלָדִים וִילָדוֹת, מְשַׂחֲקִים, בִּרְחֹבֹתֶיהָ

    Focus on the joy of hearing children play in the steets in our Land! Smile. If the noise still bothers you, pretend its the sound of waves crashing on the beach.

    As for Monopoly, the only reason why it takes too long is because of house rules that inject too much free money into the game. If you play by the real rules (no free parking money, or double salary for landing on Go, and auction every property not bought by the one who lands there), then the game will go a lot faster. Try it.

    Shabbat Shalom.


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