Wednesday, July 22, 2009

R' Kanievsky Refuses Bracha to Traffic Offender

This post on Jameel's is awesome: Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky was approached by a yeshiva student involved in a traffic violation for a blessing to be successful at trial, and he refused to do so. Excerpt:
R' Kanievsky: What is the trial about?

Student: I was caught driving without a license after I crashed into a wall

R' Kanievsky: So you're actually a murderer! Actually, they should put you in jail. That would be very good.

Student (yelling): Why? G-d forbid, I didn't kill anyone, and I didn't even hurt anyone. I just had a small car accident between myself and a wall.

R' Kanievsky: But you were driving without a driver's license, were you not?

Student: Yes

R' Kanievsky: So are you called a real killer. You could have had an accident involving people.

Student: But I know how to drive well. Besides this could hurt [my chances] for a shidduch and yeshiva [study]

R' Kanievsky: There is no such thing as "know" [how to drive]. Without a license you don't know how to drive. Regarding shidduchim, its smart not to want you, you're dangerous.
If I might add: *That* is gadlus.


  1. Kidding right? The idea that a Rabbi can give a beracha for success at at trial is kishuf. The rabbis answer alleged here is nonsensical. It's boggling my mind that you reproduce this without pointing out those factors.

  2. I believe kishuf would only be when using kochos hatumah. Asking for a bracha is just using koach hatefillah, albeit of a person one believes is closer to God than one's self. Although if you hold that teffilah is a form of kishuf... then I suppose you are right.

  3. Why is that gadlus? I, and I assume most other people, would have had the same reaction.

  4. Tzvee - What anon said.

    YD - While that's true, it's more of a comment on a couple of other points: That he cared enough to check what the trial was about rather than an automatic "may you succeed", as brachos often seem to be, and that he didn't merely give a shmooze but still wish the bachur success, but actually refused to do so and called him out.

    Not to mention, doing what everyone else would do can still be gadlus.

  5. The next step for the bachur would be to collect bail money and call it "pidyon shvuyim."

    I agree with you Ezzie, the rabbi deserves full credit.

  6. any confirmation or proof this really happened?

  7. I'm a bit surprised by people's reactions.


    Driving without a license is the same as killing a person?

    If you happen to leave your driver's license at home, its enough reason to go to jail for murder?

    If this conversation was written slightly differently, and someone came to ask for a bracha on a date, and he told the Rabbi that she will be wearing short sleeve shirt, and the rabbi responded that it was the same that she should be naked; would you be applauding the conversation or talking about how crazy such people are?

    YD, why would most people have the same reaction?

  8. Ariella - Heh.

    Neil - :)

    Serach - Follow the link on Jameel's.

    Daganev - The normal way of certifying whether someone is qualified to drive is by getting a license. This is pretty clearly what he means. If someone is pulled over and doesn't have their license on them, yes, they get a ticket, but they can often get (at least some of) it removed by sending in a copy of their license. That's a far cry from a kid who doesn't have one at all (as is implicit here) and who *crashed into a wall*!

    Your analogy is also horrible. Dangerous driving can actually kill people.

  9. "Your analogy is also horrible. Dangerous driving can actually kill people."

    And people who wear little clothing can actually become naked.

    Did you know that even safe driving can kill a person? Did you know that most people who kill others with vehicles actually have driver's licenses?

  10. "a person one believes is closer to God than one's self..." we don't have such a notion in judaism - you must belong to another faith. yes, it was my rebbe (the rav) who said such ideas were kishuf... it's no different than asking for a bracha for a race-horse or a sports team. that's sorcery.

  11. Daganev,

    If you're pulled over and don't have your license with you the cop can demand identification. He then calls dispatch, and if dispatch checks the computer and finds you have a license, then depending on what state you're in, you get a warning or cited for an infraction (which means a fine instead of jail) of not having your license with you. That's a lot less serious than driving without being licensed. In many states that can result in jail time or probation, and the cop isn't going to give you a warning for it.

    Agree that the Rabbi was right not to give him a brochoh, but driving without a license isn't the same as being a murderer

    Ichabod Chrain