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?