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Cars Aren’t The Problem In NYC. Bicyclists Are!

Dear Editor:

Am I the only one who sees the absurdity in this?

Vision Zero in NYC. Unsafe driving must be reined in. Bicyclists? Not so much.

On September 2, there was a report about pedestrians being hit or killed by bicycles. After giving some statistics and suggestions, it ended with: Of course, the main cause of [everything] is cars and trucks.

A while back, a bicyclist, driving recklessly, was hit by a truck in a way that the driver could not possibly have seen the bicyclist. Was the mayor’s reaction to enforce safe bicycling? No, we must increase enforcement against unsafe driving. Vision Zero.

Story in recent news: A man stops someone in the act of attempting to break in to his SUV. The perpetrator slashes a woman nearby and escapes on his bicycle. The man, in a rage, gives chase in his SUV and pins the perpetrator against a parked car, killing him. He then rams several other vehicles and is arrested. He is charged with murder. Then the clincher: This is the 20th bicyclist killed on city streets this year.

Why is this last sentence in this story? This was not a bicycle accident! This was totally unrelated to the other 19!

Here is my suggestion. If you want to ride your bicycle on city streets, then you need to have a bicycle license. In order to get that printed on your NYS ID, you must take a one-hour course on safe cycling. If a cyclist goes through a red light or stop sign, or rides against traffic, a cop should pull him over and issue a summons. Too many summonses and the bike is impounded.

Z. F.

Kew Gardens


Open Letter To Congresswoman Nita Lowey

Dear Congresswoman Lowey:

There is a well-known Orthodox rabbi who gives kosher supervision with a very dubious reputation. When people ask me about him, I tell them that I believe he has enough integrity not to eat from his own supervision. Forgive me if I say the same about you lately. I can only surmise that when you jump on the Democratic train of criticism of Israel, most recently with Israel’s rightful rejection of the anti-Semites Tlaib and Omar, you really don’t mean it in your heart of hearts.

My father and I have noticed a change in your political stance since you have left being the representative of our community. We do not need Jewish representatives to simply go with the trends in the new Democratic Party. We need them to fight and stand up for Israel as do other ethnic representatives. We cannot afford to see our representatives claim their support of Israel with a “Yes, but…” We need to call out anti-Semitism with no hesitation. The Tlaib charade was an obvious set-up. And although she received permission from Israel to visit her grandmother after her written agreement not to cause trouble, she reversed and declined. You can’t get more obvious than that. I am sure you understand this, as well.

I will leave you with this question: If, G-d forbid, David Duke were to succeed in becoming a Republican member of the House, would there be any criticism of South Africa for banning his visit to that country? Would the Republicans rally around him? Would African American representatives support his right to visit? Would there be a threat of damage to bipartisan support? Would you condemn South Africa for their decision?

I am curious to your response. I know you are a true friend of the Jewish People and the State of Israel. That is what makes your reaction to Israel’s decision to keep out its haters all the more painful.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld


Eiruvin and Socialism

It should be easily recognizable to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of halachah that the Torah unequivocally supports private property rights and free enterprise. The isur d’Oraisa against g’zeilah and the entire Seder N’zikin, among the myriads of other similar halachos, underscore the cardinal nature that the Torah assigns to the respect of individual private property rights.

Several months prior to the publication of this letter, I unwittingly stumbled across a rather fascinating sugya in the Gemara that I believe accentuates Chazal’s progressive knowledge of economics, and their endorsement of a system of economic organization predicated on voluntary cooperation and private ownership of the means of production – namely, capitalism.

The first mishnah in Maseches Eiruvin commences with the halachah that, in order to carry in a mavoi on Shabbos, the mavoi needs to be adjusted with a horizontal beam, a korah, that is placed on top if its walls, as long as the height at which the beam is placed does not exceed 20 amos. Rashi explains that the reason for the height limitation on the korah is because of heker: A beam above 20 amos isn’t readily recognizable for passersby in the r’shus ha’rabim, and they may erroneously conclude that in the same manner that one may carry in a mavoi, one is permitted to carry in a r’shus ha’rabim as well. In order to avert this potentially cataclysmic error that may lead to chilul Shabbos, chas v’shalom (at least b’shogeg), Chazal, therefore, were m’sakein that a korah should be placed on top of the mavoi’s walls.

In Eiruvin 3a, the Gemara considers a scenario where part of the korah is above and part is below 20 amos, as well as the scenario where part of the s’chach of a sukkah is above and part is below 20 amos. (The first mishnah in Maseches Sukkah commences with a similar halachah to Eiruvin, that the s’chach of a sukkah can’t exceed 20 amos, and the Gemara applies the reasoning of heker as well.) According to at least one version of Rabbah mentioned in the sugya, the halachah is that by mavoi it’s pasul and by sukkah it’s kasher.

The Gemara explains that it’s kasher by sukkah since, generally, a sukkah is intended for the use of one person, and if there are any halachic defects in the sukkah that may render it pasul, one individual will accept responsibility to ensure that it’s up to par. In the case of mavoi, however, the contrary is true. Since, generally, a mavoi is intended for the use of its residents who are several in number, if there are any halachic defects in the mavoi that may render it unfit to carry in, no one will accept responsibility to ensure that the mavoi is up to par. This is because mavoi is a collective achrayus among the mavoi’s residents to ensure that the mavoi meets halachic standards, and everyone will be someich on each other and simply assume that someone else will accept the achrayus instead. This will inevitably result in the residents carrying in a mavoi in which it isn’t mutar to carry (mi’d’Rabanan). The Gemara even cites an old Talmudic saying to bolster its argument: “A pot in the ownership of partners is neither hot nor cold.”

The Gemara’s reasoning for invalidating a mavoi in the aforementioned case is of immense consequence, and conveys to us a profound lesson about human nature and the human psyche. “A pot in the ownership of partners is neither hot nor cold” means that when the responsibility to care for something is a collective one, not imposed upon a particular individual, there’s virtually no incentive for the collective to care for it. Everyone in the collective group assumes that the other person will care for it, and predictably, no one will end up caring for it, because only when the prospect of reward and punishment fall on one specific individual, is there any incentive for the individual to exercise his mental and physical capacities to the greatest extent possible.

Lest you think this is mere conjecture, consider a true story that occurred in one of the former American colonies in the early 1600s. When the Puritans escaped religious persecution in England and fled to America, they established a colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They decided that their new colony would operate like a commune: All labor was communal, all the men in the colonies worked for each other, not only themselves and their families; and all their wives, as well, did household chores not only for their own husbands, but for other men, as well. As you can probably predict, their experiment in collectivism failed quite miserably, and was short-lived. Since everyone reaped the same benefits and rewards regardless of their labor, they lost all incentive to work. Why labor for yourself and someone else when the reward is the same? None possessed the desire and enthusiasm to work under such unfair and unjustifiable conditions. And as the Pilgrims’ Governor, William Bradford, attested to, the Pilgrims nearly starved to death, as the working members of the commune wouldn’t produce the needed supply of food to feed all of its members.

The members of the Plymouth colony certainly had noble intentions when they established their socialist commune. But the laws of nature and human nature are fixed and cannot be altered or modified. Once they learned this – albeit the hard way – they privatized the land, and each family was offered its own piece of land that it exercised sole responsibility over. After having privatized all the land, the colony flourished, and not only was there enough food to feed everybody, but there was actually an abundance of food!

What we’ve failed to learn time and again is that, ultimately, Hashem established the universe in such a way as to be in accord with human nature, not to oppose it. The socialist paradigm seeks to do exactly that. It seeks to change the human condition. It seeks to override human nature – and when it does, the consequences are devastating. More people were murdered by their own socialist governments in the previous century alone than in all of human history combined.

This is why Hashem established the principles of voluntary cooperation, private property, and individual responsibility – the central pillars of capitalism – for they are the sure means of ensuring human progress and prosperity.

Rafi Metz


J’Accuse…

Dear Editor:

...the Democratic Party membership in Congress for disrupting the process of looking after the people of the United States according to the precepts of our Constitution.

It is quite obvious to me that the only agenda the Democrats have is to destroy President Donald Trump, the Republican Party, Attorney General Barr, and any other Republican they can find.

The Democrats seem to have negated the welfare of the American people.

House members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar are anti-American and, far from any understanding of history, are being fed the misinformation they espouse by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Charles Schumer, and the rest of the Party, as the Democrats need fall guys for when all their do-nothing policies and accusations implode on themselves.

(As an aside, look up the “name meaning” of the word “schumer” in Google.)

I’m not looking to Make America Great Again; I’m only hoping to keep America as great as it has been for more than 200 years. With all the glitches that have come up, we’ve always been great.

Mrs. Clinton lost the election. Get over it.

Respectfully submitted,

Larry Levine


Alphabet Mix-Up

Dear Editor:

The article (September 12, 2019 – page 26) about the recent meeting in the home my friends Gila & Michael Rollhaus, organized by the ZOA, on the topic of “Fighting Anti-Semitism in Congress” was well written, but it contained one error that I’ll attribute to the writer. It was printed that Liz Berney, ZOA Director of Special Projects, encouraged participation in ZOA elections. The Z was correct; however, the correct organization is the WZC (the World Zionist Congress) that will hold elections. Liz just called me from Israel regarding ZOA delegates to the WZC (World Zionist Congress). Those elections are January 2020. Our votes in the WZC are necessary for a strong pro-Israel voice.

Stay tuned for information on voting in those elections.

Jan Fenster
Kew Gardens
Proud ZOA Life Member

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 145 United States delegates to the World Zionist Organization’s World Zionist Congress will be selected during a seven-week period between the end of January and mid-March 2020, supervised by the American Zionist Movement. The 38th World Zionist Congress will take place on October 20-22, 2020, in Israel.


Anti-Trump

Dear Editor:

It is my expectation that President Trump is going to do all of us a big favor and decide sometime in early-to-mid-2020 not to run for re-election, partly because of a likely slow-down in the economy. When that happens, I hope that the Republicans will nominate someone of good character, such as Nikki Haley or Carly Fiorina.

Personally, I don’t know what I find to be more despicable about the guy – the way that he makes fun of and insults people’s physical appearances, or the way that he views women as mere objects.

Sincerely,

Stewart B. Epstein


National Car-Free Day

Dear Editor:

National Car-Free Day this Sunday, September 22, should be celebrated every day.

Millions of Americans today, including many Queens residents, utilize various public transportation alternatives. They include local and express bus, ferry, jitney, light rail, subway, and commuter rail services. All of these systems use less fuel and move far more people than conventional single occupancy vehicles. Most of these systems are funded with your tax dollars.

Depending upon where you live, consider the public transportation alternative. Try riding a local or express bus, commuter van, ferry, light rail, commuter rail, or subway.

Leave your car at home. For local trips in the neighborhood, walk or ride a bike. For longer travels, consider many public transportation alternatives already available. MTA NYC Transit Subway and Bus, MTA Bus (the old private NYC DOT-franchised bus operators including Green Bus, Queens Surface, Jamaica Bus, Triboro Coach, Command Bus, Liberty Lines, Bronx Express, and New York Bus), Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road, NYC Department of Transportation Staten Island Ferry and Economic Development Corporation Private Ferries, PATH, and New Jersey Transit, along with other private bus transportation owners. They use less fuel and move far more people than cars. In many cases, your employer can offer transit checks to help subsidize a portion of the costs. Utilize your investments and reap the benefits. You’ll be supporting a cleaner environment and be less stressed upon arrival at your final destination.

The ability to travel from home to workplace, school, shopping, entertainment, medical, library, etc. is a factor when moving to a new neighborhood. Economically successful communities are not 100 percent dependent on automobiles as the sole means of mobility. Seniors, students, and low- and middle-income people need these transportation alternatives. Investment in public transportation today contributes to economic growth, employment, and a stronger economy. Dollar for dollar, it is one of the best investments we can make.

Sincerely,

Larry Penner