Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tehillim to prevent accidents?

Those ubiquitous wall posters are popping up on every lamppost in my area; never mind that they are illegal and uglify the neighborhood. They are hawking what they call an insurance policy, where we donate forty cents a day (that's $146 a year for the multiplication-challenged and, oh yes, the multiplication tables really do work) to some outfit in Ashdod. In return they will have children recite Tehillim and other tfillot and their purity and innocence will protect us from traffic accidents this coming summer. The money will be used to provide "the best possible Torah education" to a needy child in Ashdod. Now, I'm not questioning the value of prayer, especially that of children, but do we have to pay for it? Can our own children not recite Tehilim, safely belted into their seats on the car or plane? At best this "insurance policy" will provide funds to a worthy institution; I did not investigate the outfit and cannot vouch for its worthiness, but if it teaches children to rely solely on tfilla to protect them from harm, then it is not providing "the best possible Torah education." At worst, the policy will encourage people who have had too much to drink, who are fatigued or otherwise impaired, whose vehicle is in bad mechanical condition, who have more passengers than seat belts or do not have adequate child safety seats (all required by law here in New York - dina d'malkhuta dina) to get behind the wheel. After all, if those pure Yiddishe nesahamos are saying Tehilim for them, how can anything bad possibly happen? I submit that the money can better be spent supporting the efforts of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to get the drunks off the road. Make sure that your car - and you - are in shape for that long trip. Do not cram seven children into space designed and equipped for five. And if you're going to a simha, have a designated driver who will not have alcohol in his or her system. Actions (and omissions) have consequences, causes have effects, עולם כמנהגו נוהג . The whole thing reminds me of a story I heard after the Six Day War; the Prime Minister came to the newly liberated kotel and a soldier rushed up to him and shouted, "We did our bit; now you do yours." Only when we have done our bit can we ask God to "do His."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're an APIKORUS.

Sun Jun 18, 01:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Thank you for posting about this.

The bullshit campaign you're referring to is the most asinine thing I've seen since, since, well, since the Chai Rotel idiocy and the jackass pictures of rabbis holding pushkas and....well, it's all retarded. And it's all happening in a religious community near you.

I saw those posters on a mercifully short trip to Brooklyn last night. And it's really hard to fathom that Jewish people have become so inured to such blatant stupidity.

If I was the person running the Brooklyn ad agency that created those ads I would have thrown the con-artist paying for the campaign down a flight of stairs.

Unfortunately, your Tzedaka dollars buy a lot of clout and it's too irresistible to say no, regardless of how damaging and embarrassing the message is.

I've said it before: Stop this religion. I want to get off.

Tue Jun 20, 10:08:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous disappointed said...

Excellent post. Thanks for bringing it up. I had seen the newspaper ads and was bothered by them.

It appears to be a media/advertising blitz. Those interested can see the ads in the following places - Yated Neeman, June 23, 2006, p.45, The Jewish Press, June 23, 2006, p.8, Five towns Jewish Times, June 23, 2006, p.27 (online at, click to see .pdf of current issue and go to the page).

I think it's a disgraceful gimmick, however well intentioned.

Here is some text from the ad -

(Next to a photo of a road accident scene from Hatzoloh of Rockland county) "There are many ways to get from Point A to Point B this summer.

There's one way to make sure you get there safely.

Ordinary insurance can provide financial insurance in case of an accident, but Shemirah Bidrachim prevents accidents from happening in the first place.

For just pennies a day, you and your family will receive the ultimate protection from harm while traveling.

For a minimal fee of only .40 (cents - cents sign - wow - what I mistake - you mean for only 4/10th of a penny?? - they meant .40$ evidently, but someone slipped - transcriber) a day, two thousand children recite select Tehilim and additional special tefilos of protection for each policy holder.

In exchange, your fee will help provide a Jewish child with a License to Succeed in life by getting the best possible Torah education.

Shemirah Bidrachim is endorsed by leading Rabbonim including:
Hagaon Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, shlita, Hagaon Harav Ovadia Yosef, shlita, Hagaon Harav Shmuel Wosner, shlita among others.



Free Tefilas Haderech booklet

Free Certificate of Protection

Protect your family from harm while traveling

Special 2-month Summer Package.

Help provide Jewish Children with a Torah education."

In fine, italicized print, one sees the following "This agreement is a mere spiritual agreement!
It does not constitute any grounds for the Insured to claim money from the Ashdod Mercaz Chinuch Project or anyone affiliated with this campaign."

Also problematic is a 'letter' shown in the ad which reads as follows -

"I was heading home during my regular evening commute from the hospital, when, out of nowhere, a huge SUV slammed into the side of my car. It sounded like a bomb had detonated right next to me.

I don't remember much from the incident, but I should not have walked away without a scratch. But I did. (folliwng underlined) And I can only attribute it to my Shemirah Bidrachim Insurance Policy.
It saved my life."

- Dr. BH

I wonder if this is an actual letter or just made up. I suspect the latter.

Also interesting is that under the above 'letter' there is what looks like a Hebrew 'letter' signed by R. Wosner. However, very little of it is visible and it is printed, not even the 'signature' is handwritten, which causes one to have doubts about it. Additionally, despite the claim that it is endorsed by the other gedolim mentioned above, no letters from them are seen.

One thing though 'in defense' of the ad. They have a special rate - $91 for twelve months - not $146/year.

"checks to 'Mosdos Ashdod'" - it does not say who is behind it. Which Haredi group in Ashdod ?

The whole thing is very problematic, because it implies that through such gimmickry one can be 'insured'. I wonder why Jews throughout the ages were foolish and suffered from accidents and didn't think of schemes like this one.

Also, what about the idea of 'shluchei mitzvah einan nizokin'? Some people give 'shliach mitzvah gelt' with that in mind. I guess that is free, so it would not have such an advertising campaign behind it.

When will the frum world wake up and come to it's senses ???

If the cause is worthy, pitch it on it's merits, but don't resort to questionable claims. Don't use sheker to support Toras Emes. That is a serious contradiction - seems like Shaatnez, a forbidden mix, to me.

Mon Jun 26, 01:18:00 AM EDT  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

Great post. Glad I found yours. I don't get the text versions of the frum newspapers and usually just read them online or via an email version. (As a friend has pointed out, I shouldn't be allowed to read them at all they make me so mad).

Tefillah is great. Tehillim is great. Like you pointed out, let your kids say their own. But, hawking these types of insurances only does a disservice IMO. And, it seems that hawking protections, segulos, and yeshuos are getting more and more prevelent. Seems that we've entered the "Black Magic" era of hishtadlut.

I guess these ads do provide an opportunity, however, to remind people to drive safely and buy adequate life insurance.

Tue Jun 27, 10:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Auto Report World Editors said...

MADD jumped the shark a long time ago. They are the classic example of mission creep. The woman who started MADD disavows the organization because they've turned into a modern prohibitionists. They don't approve of your suggested designated driver because they believe that encourages drinking. They went from trying to do something about teens drinking and driving to advocating reductions on BAC needed to convict for DUI for all drivers, not just teens. Now they are advocating a .00% limit which effectively makes them prohibitionists. The law has long been based on the idea of impairment. That's why a recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling on driving under the influence of marijuana has been so controversial. A majority ruled that because the legislature didn't define the word "derivative" in the law, all derivatives of marijuana, even metabolites that are not psychoactive, when present in the body create a prima facia case of DUD, regardless of actual impairment. MADD is moving away from a standard of impairment based on reality to the idea that any alcohol consumption impairs you. Guess I'll have to skip that glass of red wine my cardiologist suggests.

Wed Jul 05, 12:59:00 AM EDT  
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