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Friends of the Road


"… And if I am for myself alone, what am I?" Ethics of the Fathers 1, 14

"I do not want followers who are righteous," said Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. "Rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won't have time to do bad."

Riding in Netanya, our car had a flat. Shagrir said they would arrive within three hours. My husband called our local "puncture macher" (tire fixer) in Kfar Saba who suggested that he call Yedidim, a group of volunteers, many of them ultra-orthodox, who offer road assistance and other emergency services to those in need.* A volunteer came within 15 minutes, changed the tire and would accept no monetary payment for his help. His payment is the mitzvah of helping a fellow human being.

The following week my husband was entering the ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Elad on a Friday morning when he had another flat. He exited his car, surveyed the situation, took out his box of tools and this time just called Yedidim. A volunteer came within five minutes, helped him inflate the tire and lead him to a "puncture macher" operated by a Lubavitcher Chassid. The volunteer would accept no payment.

Halfway back to Kfar Saba my husband remembered that he had forgotten his expensive box of tools near the place where he had filled his tire with air. He returned to Elad, but the box of tools was gone. He consoled himself by concluding that whoever had taken the box could use it to help himself and others. He returned to Kfar Saba. This is where the story gets interesting.

Two days after learning about her father's flat tire and loss of toolbox, our daughter, who works in Elad, returned to the place where he had filled the tire with air. Although the box of tools was gone, there was a sign taped very securely with masking tape on the fence near the crosswalk. On it was written a telephone number and this message: "I want to fulfill the mitzvah of returning a lost item ((השבת אבדה to its owner according to 'signs' identifying it as his. In this case, it is a box of tools." Our daughter gave the phone number to my husband who was able to answer the following questions: Where did you lose it? What day? What time? What was inside? My husband was able to offer additional identification of the items. Our daughter returned the next day to Elad and picked up the box from the young couple who had found it and who very happily returned it.

"If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for tomorrow?" said Reb Nachman of Breslev.

Lost someone? Stuck in an elevator?
Help is at hand . . .

 *YEDIDIM is a volunteer organization offering non-medical emergency service 24 hours a day, except Shabbat and holidays. It was established in 2006 by Rabbi Meir Weiner, modeled after "Chaverim" of the United States. There are 18,073 volunteers across the country, both men and women, who apart from road service, are trained to help people stuck in elevators and join other emergency organizations in finding missing persons. The call for help is received in a central station, manned by 200 volunteers across the country who receive the call on their private phones, and direct the need for help to those volunteers who are closest to the situation at hand. In one case, a volunteer on the way to his own wedding, wearing his white shirt and suit, was videoed changing the tire of a helpless driver. It is fascinating to enter the Yedidim site and see clips of volunteers opening cars to extract children locked inside.

  • 1,110 children were rescued from locked cars in 2018.
  • 141,373 emergency cases were helped in 2018.

The vision of Yedidim is to have one volunteer per building so that everyone can expect to be helped in the shortest possible time, no matter where he is. In this way Israel will be a better, more caring place.

The organization fulfills the message of the verse, "…you shall love your fellow as yourself…" (Leviticus 19 verse 18). Rabbi Akiva said that this is the fundamental rule of the Torah.

Call for help: 053 313 1310

Information on volunteering: 053 319 9357 



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Wednesday, 17 July 2024

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