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Monday, June 19, 2006

True Carpool Stories

I will admit that aside from getting the opportunity to personally check in with my child's teacher weekly, I don't find carpool to be in the least enjoyable. I've blogged about it before, and I haven't changed my tune. I really hate carpool. But here are a few choice vignettes I thought I'd share with my readers from over the years of doing carpools for my various children. Maybe getting these stories out of my system will be cathartic. Here goes:


When the mother of one of the girls in carpool came to strap her daughter in to the car, and another girl unceremoniously announced: "Mrs. ____, you're very fat." Mrs. ____ was not pregnant, by the way. Also, just to clarify, the girl who made the announcement was not my daughter.

The mother who would give a taffy to every kid in the carpool every morning when she would strap her son in. Well meaning, but who needs their kids to start the day of with an infusion of taffy, every day?

The mother who would ask one or another of the mothers in the carpool to fill in, regularly, and not ever be available to reciprocate.

The mother who had the gall to call me to fill in for her the morning after she made a gala Bar Mitzvah for her older son, and when I indicated that it would be very difficult for me to do so as I had a work committment, and that she should ask another parent from the carpool, she said "But they are all going to be up late at the Bar Mitzvah too!". Just a tip: If I am the only parent out of the five not invited to your Simcha, and you happen to request a favor of me, don't let the fact of my exclusion from your party drop during the conversation. It's just not advisable.

The mother who is never home at the end of the school day and creates a regular playdate for her daughter at the home of whoever is doing carpool - unilaterally. Did I mention she doesn't work? And that her daughter had intermittent accidents?

The child who slammed the door on another child's hand, causing a minor (but quite bloody) trauma. It was never ascertained whether the injured child was correct in his assertion that it was done on purpose.

The boy who would lead the car in a rousing chant of Tehillim every time he would hear a siren from an ambulance. (That one was sweet).

The mother who forgot she had switched carpool days, and left the kids waiting for more than an hour. (OK, that was me - but in all fairness, the mother who asked me to switch had asked me weeks before and never confirmed.)


Unfortunately, by far my best one can't be told, for risk of compromising my anonymity (it's that good).

Anyone have any of your own good ones to share?

88 Comments:

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1:13 AM  
Blogger queeniesmom said...

The child who always forgets.... and you MUST go back for it. They then spend time banging on the door but no one is home. I love it when they get back in the car and act as if it's your fault that they are missing this vitaly important item(s).

I too hate carpool but at times it is a necessary evil.

1:49 AM  
Blogger Emah S said...

I've never been a carpool mom since I don't work full time and the school is around the corner. BUT, I did forget one afternoon to go back and pick up my older son. I was cooking and talking on the phone to a friend when I realized pick up time was over. ugh. I felt awful............funny thing was, my son was mad that I was there "so early" and he didn't get to stay longer at after care! Can't win some days!

3:05 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

That girl whose mother creates "unilateral" playdates for her . . . I'd have accidents too if I was a little kid and never knew from day to day where I would be spending my afternoon. What a chaotic homelife that child must have. How sad.

3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mother who was never there. Instead the babysitter didn't think that the protocols of carpool applied to her (bringing child out in AM, bucking him in, coming to get him out of car in afternoon, etc)

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or the one that would ask me to wait every day while her child just "goes to the bathroom". Couldnt he go before I got there? Especially because this happened every day.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that the forgetting to pick the kids up thing isn't just me.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was always the back up for the person who couldn't G-d forbid carpool that day b/c they didn't have their help that day. Mind you I don't have full time help at all.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Fox said...

This past year was the first year the state of Illinois gave us money for buses here in Chicago. While it wasn't perfect, it was a huge mechaya.

The Agudah dayan made everyone in the community smile when he said that the greatest threat to ahavas yisroel in our city came not from Litvak v. Chossid, Lubavitch v. non-Lubavitch, or even modern v. yeshivishe; rather, the biggest reason for people no longer speaking was -- you guessed it -- carpool.

10:10 AM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

orthomom,
i know this is not a comment on this particular post but i figured if you would consider somehow posting names for tehillim. you have a very large following and many people would be able to say the tehillim.

on to the topic at hand my favorite was actually what happened after carpool the menahel of our yeshiva used to call my parents and ask if she had two sons ( my older brothers) in the same carpool why does one show up for davening before it starts and the other one shows up after barichu.
by the way i pay 1300.00 this year for private bus for my 4 yr.old b/c they are to young for the big buses.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

Carpooling misery is one of the reasons I moved. I gave up on having morning carpools altogether when I was wedged in between extremes who insisted that if I would be 5 minutes late I should call the mother so that she could take her son to school lest he chas veshalom would have to get a late note. The same mother, though, never had to pack a baby along with her for the carpool as she had someone come to watch her younger kids when it was her turn. She also never had her own son. who just had to be on time, ready and waiting by the door to come out as soon as I got there.

Another mother from the same carpool got so fixated on getting her child to school on time that one time when a man requested a favor that she drop him at the train station, she declared she could not take him all the way because she did not want her child to be late to school. This man was wearing a leg cast at the time. Now, this woman was not a selfish person at all. But the school had so insisted on the importance of these first-graders being in school on time that she took that as her number one priority. She had an excellent opportunity to perform a true chessed -- and the man had even asked the favor! -- but she gave up a complete fulfillment in favor of getting her kid in 2 minutes sooner!

While I had to have a carpool this year for my daughter in kindergarten, I do have to say that the drivers (myself included) did cooperate and did not attempt to inflict guilt trips on each other and willingly switched days when requested. This was only set up for the afternoon because one of the mothers had to drop her daughter off early, and my daughter has a tendency to sleep late. This carpool started out with only 2 of us with girls in the same class. But we willingly included another girl who moved into the neighborhood after the school year began and so was shut out of other carpools. Even though this child lived even further out of the way from me, I know how hard it is on a mother with other carpool duties to feel shut out, so we added her in, and I started a Friday tradeoff with her.

On the other hand, we did want to get out son into a Sunday carpool but were shut out by a mother who wanted to keep hers down to three because she "finds it confusing" when it gets too large.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Ten Jew Very Much said...

It is said that you know a person by four things--"b'kiso, b'ka'aso, b'koso ... uv'carpoolo."

10:45 AM  
Blogger Just Passing Through said...

I don't remember much from my days of carpooling as a child, but I Do remember this one parent who, for some reason, would always drive his cars traight to his house and all the children would have to walk from there. I had a 4-block walk.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't even know where to begin. After 12 years of carpooling, I have NEVER had a carpool experience as miserable as I did this year. 5 boys, including my son, who spent the hour (yes - hour - the other 4 live at the opposite end of the Five Towns and the school is in Far Rockaway - who (other than my son who sat silent the entire ride - and not just when I was driving - according to the other mothers) who made my Fridays a living hell. Perhaps as the oldest mother in the carpool (but no dinasaur myself) I'm in a unique position to comment on the absolute lack of parenting of 3 of the 4 other boys who threw tantrums, insisted on going to the bathroom as we were pulling away from the curb, fought daily over which spot to sit in, said "shut up" in front of their mothers who just smiled and said "aw, say 'good shabbos'", beat eachother till bloody, unbuckled their seat belts and stood, stole and destroyed eachothers projects, broke my cds, refused to agree on any music or dvd, and just generally shouted, fought, insulted eachother and threw things out of windows till I often found myself either shouting or crying midway through the ride. Worst was the astonishing chutzpah from these children who had regularly said "shut up", "I don't have to listen to you" and even "you're stupid," to ME while the others just laughed hysterically. Most ironic is the one child whose chutzpah and meanness were out of control, but when I tried to turn on a dvd to calm the kids, this tzadikel started screaming and yelling that he cannot watch "goyish" movies. (this was a g-rated cartoon, mind you) Believe me, I am no pushover. I myself have taught first through seventh grade when I was single, and run my own home with a zero-tolerance policy toward chutzpah and I was shocked to see how these kids rule their young-ish, well meaning but totally clueless mothers. I say young-ish because they are only a few years younger than me, and I too had a passle of kids at that age and would NEVER allow that kind of behavior. The current parenting philosophy seems to be that is simply "mean" to be strict with your child or refuse them anything - from a candy at 8am, to going to the bathroom when they should have been prepared and waiting at the door. I truly believe it's not the kids fault - if they need extra time in the morning, it's the mother's (or father's) responsibility to wake them up 10 minutes earlier and not inconvenience, let alone torture, the rest of the carpool on a daily basis.

As for the commentor who thought it was outrageous to refuse to do a chessed that would make the carpool late, I have a compeletly different view. Getting kids to yeshiva on time is extremely important - and taking a stranger into the car (even a frum person in a cast) and causing a car full of kids to possibly be late, miss davening, learning, and generally disrupt the classroom is not necessarily the right decision. The priority in the morning should be not inconveniencing the carpool, the kids, the other parents, and the morah/rebbe - not collecting chassadim on the "backs" of many other people. This warped sense of what's right and wrong has clearly been imbued in kids who will say "shut up" to a mother, but refuse to watch a "goyish" video. Do your chessed on your own time - not on the time of a car full of kids and a waiting classroom.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

anon 11:55 - To argue that refusing to give the ride was ok is a legitimate position certainly (and may even be correct - osek b'mitzva patur min hamitzva maybe?). However this is a case of competing imperatives (doing chesed and educating kids to do chesed vs. prompt arrival at school), both of which are important and the balance between which is by no means clear (ask your LOR anyone?).

However, to say that a mother being a few minutes late with the carpool in order to help a guy in a cast is part of the "warped sense of what's right and wrong has clearly been imbued in kids who will say 'shut up' to a mother" is going way over the top. We can discuss the proper manner of acting in this situation - but is everyone on the other side of the discussion giving their kids warped priorities?

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:09:

I never said everyone on the other side of the discussion was giving their kids warped priorities. I said it was "not necessarily the right decision." There are so many ways to teach a kid chessed - I don't think that during carpool was the time or place - nor was it necessarily the role of the mom driving to teach them chessed rather than promptness and the importance of getting to school on time for tefillah. I think that commentor was the one being judgmental and inflexible - not me. As I noted in my comment, I was just offering my differing view of the issue.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Ten Jew Very Much said...

My 2¢ worth: I learned "osek b'mitzva" to mean that the chesed (shel emet) superseded the obligation to daven on time--not the other way around.

Now, I understand that that applies to oneself and one cannot make the decision for others. Also, the circumstances are not as extreme. But isn't life a series of small decisions--in this case, between two good choices--chesed in action and tefila? I would also hope that the Menahel or Rabbi in charge of the minyan would accept--and approve of--the carpool driver's explanation as to the tardy arrival.

Consider the question in monetary terms. Let's say the carpool van broke down and the tow truck would take 15 minutes to get there. Would you pay $25 to get a taxi so the kids would get to school on time? And if you say you would, then would you have given the guy in the cast $25 to take a taxi to accomplish the same end of timely arrival at school?

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ten jew:
Not sure I understand your little riddle, but my answer is yes to both questions.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

anon - I must have misread your last paragraph then because it came across to me that you were linking the decision to take the person with general screwed up priorities in kids. Nevermind then.

ten jew - Well here the mitzva that was being osek in would be taking the kids, not them davening, although I'm not sre that changes anything. I lean your way on this one, but I think its a pretty good question which priority wins out and what the parameters are.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Ten Jew Very Much said...

Anon 12.39 -- It's not a riddle. It was pointing out that the situation had a third answer, one that anon 11.55 didn't mention.

As for the commentor who thought it was outrageous to refuse to do a chessed that would make the carpool late, I have a compeletly different view. Getting kids to yeshiva on time is extremely important - and taking a stranger into the car (even a frum person in a cast) and causing a car full of kids to possibly be late, miss davening, learning, and generally disrupt the classroom is not necessarily the right decision. The priority in the morning should be not inconveniencing the carpool, the kids, the other parents, and the morah/rebbe - not collecting chassadim on the "backs" of many other people. This warped sense of what's right and wrong has clearly been imbued in kids who will say "shut up" to a mother, but refuse to watch a "goyish" video. Do your chessed on your own time - not on the time of a car full of kids and a waiting classroom. Anon 11.55

Both goals--getting the kids to school AND demonstrating how to do chesed--could have been accomplished with some dollars. True, maybe the carpool driver ran out without wallet in hand, but the possibility of the monetary solution wasn't even considered in the above response.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Another meshugannah mommy said...

Well, there's the kid who always insists on being dropped off "first."

And, there's the mom who, although she insisted her child needed to be picked up at a certain time, not only doesn't have her child ready, she WANTS TO GIVE HIM LUNCH while you come in the house with everyone and wait for him.

Of course, there's the times you are stuck without any carpool at all, but I am beginning to prefer them!

1:21 PM  
Anonymous anonymous said...

Since I have twins, people want me to take two slots in their two person carpool. And they can only drive mornings! So I am encouraged to drive five times, with the other ladies each driving two or three times.

No, thank you. And no need to call back to berate me, just because I have twins doesn't mean I'll gladly be your chauffer.

And, don't bother to call me to 'fill' in for you by trying to schedule a playdate at my house after school.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

In response to anonymous reference to my critique of not giving the ride to the man with the cast.
1)This was no stranger, but a frum neighbor known to both myself and the driver. I took it for granted that readers would realize that. 2)When I told the principle of the school what had happened, he agreed that the mother had been in the wrong in that case. Imagine telling your teacher that you are 5 minutes late because your mother drove a man in a cast to the train station, do you expect the teacher to say, "You should have been on time!" I can't believe Anon believes that it is more important to get kids in on the dot at 8:15 than to demonstrate a living lesson of Torat Chessed. And I guess Anon cannot appreciate the difficulty of getting around in a cast. I had a broken ankle twice, and I assure you, walking is an arduous task in that state!
3) And remember: these are first graders, we're talking about -- they don't begin their day with a minyan!
4)Derech Eretz kadma laTorah and refusing to help a person, obviously in need, is in contradiction to this.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the mother of twin: I've been in another type of rotation with twins. While you deserve respect for handling the double burden, you have no right to foist it on others. Do you demand 2 slots in school for the price of one? If you were paying for school bussing, do you think you'd get both kids on for the price others pay for one? It doesn't work that way when you pay in money, so why should you only have to pay for one in service?

2:40 PM  
Anonymous shanna said...

Anon @ 2:40 - perhaps it's because it's not twice as much work for the other parents to pick up and drop off the twins, seeing as they live in the same house. Two children do take up more space in the car, possibly eliminating the potential for another family (and driver) to join the carpool, but I doubt that was the issue (and it wasn't your argument besides).

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ariella,
I still firmly disagree with you - particularly the hypocrisy you betrayed by having "massered" to the principal on the parent who disagreed with your choice of taking their kid on a field trip and bringing them to school late in the name of what you deemed to be an act of chessed. Did boasting to the principal about your perceived act of chessed supersede your obligation to be humble about your good deeds and refrain from lashon harah? And by the way, not every parent driving carpool has the leisure time to pick up handicapped stragglers, then enter the school, seek out the principal, and get late notes for her troupe. Some are actually on their way to work and need to keep the morning moving efficiently. It's obvious you really have no sense of urgency or limited time with respect to carpool or anything else. Most importantly, first graders may not daven with a minyan, but they do start the day with tefillah, and coming late disrupts the classroom, no matter what the excuse. If every parent found some noble excuse every morning to bring their carload of kids in late - and I'm sure there is chessed to be performed on any given day - school would end up in complete chaos. And in response to your point about my inability to empathize with someone who has a broken limb, I spent 3 months in a full leg brace and had my husband drive me to and from grad school every single morning - not once did I dream of inconveniencing a neighbor or friend with what was essentially my (and my family's) problem. Derech eretz kadmah l'torah may be a pithy phrase that you clearly do not comprehend and is completely inapplicable to your behavior and attitute. I fail to see the derech eretz or the "torat chessed" in your judgmental comments - you completely miss the point - taking up other people's time - even a bunch of seven-year-olds - is the exact same lack of derech eretz you so smugly denounce. Like I said before - do your chessed on your own time. During carpool, it's your job to get the children to school safely and on time. If you choose to be a role model of derech eretz while driving, terrific - but not by doing favors for your neighbor along the way. Why not swing by the local nursing home and take the kids to visit the sick and elderly on the way to school, for that matter? By your logic, that's a far better use of their time than tefillah - right? Gimme a break - the right choice is to apologize politely to your neighbor, explain that you have a carpool obligation that morning, but that you'd be happy to drive him later or the next day. Much more gratifying to cozy up to the principal while casting aspersions on your co-carpooler - a parent whose sense of punctuality is clearly meaningless to you. Some "torat chessed. . ."
-Anon 11:55

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Ariella, stack up what you know versus what you don't know. You know for sure the youngsters have to get to school. The guy with the cast? For all you know he was faking it, just so he could get a free ride. The driver could have come back later; after all, since he was already faking the need for a cast, it's obvious that he had no need to get to the train station on time. You knew for sure that the first graders would cause a commotion by entering tefila late. As for the neighbor, do you REALLY know he's "frum?" Maybe in private he reads Rav Kook.

And as for asking the principal, better you should assume that he would come down hard on anyone who was a few minutes late, rather than seeking his opinion on the relative values of ben adam l'Makom and ben adam l'chavero in that case.

3:15 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

The mother who had the gall to call me to fill in for her the morning after she made a gala Bar Mitzvah for her older son, and when I indicated that it would be very difficult for me to do so as I had a work committment, and that she should ask another parent from the carpool, she said "But they are all going to be up late at the Bar Mitzvah too!". Just a tip: If I am the only parent out of the five not invited to your Simcha, and you happen to request a favor of me, don't let the fact of my exclusion from your party drop during the conversation. It's just not advisable.

Ah Jews. That takes the cake.

My own carpools proceed w/o difficulty; the one issue is the total slob who keeps her car messy, almost b'shita: the floor is littered with popcorn and empty soda bottles. There are crumbs everywhere. It's just gross, and its worse every time.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

::Musing to self:: what is it about blogging that precludes civil disagreements and almost invariably leads to nasty personal attacks ::end musing::


To Ariella and anon 11:55 - isn't this going to be a question of facts and circumstances? If it takes an hour to help the person, then barring emergency circumstances there is little excuse for stopping to help. If its stopping to give directions, then there is no/minimal delay and why not stop? Its the cases in the middle that get sticky - e.g. stopping to help will probably not make the kids late, unless traffic is bad. How much risk of being late is warranted (and how late). I really don't see why anyone should be getting emotionally invested in this if the debate is cetnered on where the line here is.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

to the first anonymous: you put very odd spins on what is plain. 1) there ws no "field trip". The train station was a few blocks away, blocks can feel like miles when you are in a cast. I don't think he had been planning to ask for favor but found walking more difficult than he had anticipated. This is not parallel to taking kids to the nursing home instead of school on the spur of the moment.
2) he was walking to catch the train TO WORK. Perhaps he did not have a car available or could not drive with the cast but found the walking quite difficult
3) I was not boasting to the principle _- I was not the one driving in that case. I wanted him to know how people were responding to their fear of bringing in their children late. And as you fail to acknowledge, he agreed that the mother had lost the right perspective in this case.
4) No one said the kids should miss school or tefilla but that the price of being 5 minutes late is worth seeing their mother help a fellow Jew who asked for it and obviously needs it. You know the idea of "Veahavta lereyacha kamocha" is considered "klal gadol baTorah"
Your objections make you sound like what was called a tzaddik in a peltz.

I am a Yekke by birth and temperment, but I know that one has to have a proper sense of proportion for everything -- including timliness.
Ultimately, it is the Torah -- not you, Anon. -- that dictate what is right. Do you know what the halacha is for a kohen gadol on the way to do the korban Pesach who comes across a met mitzvah? The oppoortunity to do a chessed she emet supersedes the obligation to avoid tumas met and the timliness of the korban Pesach. Do you think there is a lesson in that for the rest of us?

3:49 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Note that if the kohen gadol had come across a guy who needed to get to the train he would not be able to stop - so I'm not sure how this example helps here, other than to tell us that there is chesed that you drop other things for, which no one is disputing (I hope).

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Ten Jew Very Much said...

Somewhat anon- That's part of the joy of blogging: the ability to be sarcastic, ironic or even rude with anonymity. Not that it's good, but it's a way of relieving tension. It's like a pillow fight.

Of course, there are blogsites where (almost) all comments are civil. Gil's is very good in that respect.

The other aspect that contributes to this is that situations and evaluations of them are described very briefly. This leaves much room for filling in details that can slant the picture one way or another. Like some perush, the comment may reflect something outside the situation that's bothering the commenter.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished driving my last carpool (my kids get the bus next year)! I am so relieved. Two points:
1) I have twins too. In a five child carpool, everyone drives one day per week. Therefore, it is only fair that a twins' mom should drive 2 days, as they are taking up 2 slots.
2) My aunt lives in Miami and had to 4 different carpools each year for her kids who went to school in N Miami Beach. One year, a mother left all the (either preschool or lower grades) kids in the car and went into a supermarket!!!! Also, one parent "potched" my nephew!

4:06 PM  
Blogger Chaim B. said...

>>>Note that if the kohen gadol had come across a guy who needed to get to the train he would not be able to stop

Why not? Both burying a mes and dropping off a guy in a cast who needs to get to the train right away are forms of chessed - osek b'mitzva patur min hamitzva, irrespective of the importance of other obligations that have to be sacrificed to deal with the needs of the moment.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Chaim B. - I think korban pesach is different because of the chiyuv kares involved in missing it. And if tumas mes was involved it would certianly be forbidden

4:23 PM  
Blogger Chaim B. said...

>>>I think korban pesach is different because of the chiyuv kares involved in missing it. And if tumas mes was involved it would certianly be forbidden

It is a mefurash mishna that a kohein gadol can miss korban pesach to be metamei for mes mitzva - see nazir 47. For a non-kohein the chessed of dealing with the mes pushes off even the kareis obligation of pesach as we see from last week's parsha where those who carried yosef's aron (non-kohanin performing a chessed) requested pesach sheni because they missed it the first time.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing how am aratzus can make a person so confident of his/her own view!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

chaim b. - the first case you mention is what we started with. My question was the applicability of the point to a non-mes situation (general application of osek b'mitzva patur min hamitzva).

As for your second example, at no time have I been talking about a non-kohen

4:40 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Anon 4:39 - I assume that comment was aimed at me. Aside from the fact that I don't think my statement was wrong - since when does starting a sentence with "I think" give the idea that I have confidence in my view, let alone confidence born of am'arutzus (spelling?)

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

The reference to the Mishna that a cohen gadol on his way to do the korban Pesach would give that up and become tamey mes if he comes across a mes mitvah was meant to illustrate a point. Even someone in such a situation where time is of the essence is supposed to do the act of chesed. So how can we claim getting the kids to school on the dot takes precedence over an act of chesed that will cost us far less of a loss of time and opportunity -- about as much as a drive of 3 blocks out of the way would.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Ariella - mes mitzva is pretty much the ultimate act of chesed possible. You cannot bring it as logical proof that lesser chassodim have the same effect. It does support the general proposition that you can drop imprtant things to do a chessed, but not more than that (which does not make you wrong).

4:59 PM  
Blogger Chaim B. said...

>>>My question was the applicability of the point to a non-mes situation (general application of osek b'mitzva patur min hamitzva).

Sukkah 25-26. Osek b'mitzva applies to everything, e.g. if you have to deal with a choleh you stay indoors with the sick person and do not have to go out to eat in the sukkah - the chessed of bikkur cholim is doche a mitzvas aseh. There is no differentiation made between the levels of chiyuv. The ritva in sukkah writes the whole point of osek b'mitzva patur min hamitzva is to teach us not to 'weight' mitzvos and say X is more important than Y, whatever X or Y may be. I am not sure what exactly you are driving at, but I hope this answered it.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Chaim B. said...

>>>mes mitzva is pretty much the ultimate act of chesed possible. You cannot bring it as logical proof that lesser chassodim have the same effect

But that is exactly what the gemara does, as dealing with arono shel yosef (mes mitzva) is the paradigm for all exemptions of osek b'miztva, even when the original obligation is far less weighty than dealing with a mes (see sukkah 25)

5:02 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Chaim b. - I admit I have not been clear in the quick back and forth here, but my question is simply this: does osek b'mitzvah operate by korban pesach where there is a chiyuv kares outside of the circumstance of tumas meis (the gemara in sukkah you quote does not seem to address this)

5:03 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Chaim b. - If the mitzva that one is being osek in is taking kids to school (if that's even a mitzva in this context)then how can you stop to take the guy to the train - that was the context I originally brought the concept up in, not the reverse.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

As I was the one there: the situation was that bringing the man to the train did not mean not bringing the children -- who were already in the car. It just meant getting them there a few minutes later. As the mother did agree to take him into the car but only as far as the Ave. and not all the way to the train, my point was that she lost out on completing this act of chesed because she became too fixated on being on time.
So in this case, efshar la'asos both acts. Why give up one?
I didn't think this was such a complicated point.

5:15 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Ariella said...

As I was the one there: the situation was that bringing the man to the train did not mean not bringing the children -- who were already in the car. It just meant getting them there a few minutes later. As the mother did agree to take him into the car but only as far as the Ave. and not all the way to the train, my point was that she lost out on completing this act of chesed because she became too fixated on being on time.
So in this case, efshar la'asos both acts. Why give up one?
I didn't think this was such a complicated point.


I agree completely. This isn't a condemnation, so much as an opportunity to learn from another person's choices.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Well is bringing the children late the same as bringing them on time such that we would say that both are efshar la'asos? And in any case, as someone else noted, can you make other people's kids late so that you can do a chesed, regardless of this analysis. I don't claim to know the answer to these questions - just pointing out where I see as problems in possible solutions to the question.

My gut feeling is that the osek b'mitzvah analysis (fascinating as it is) doesn't really apply here because of the presence of other people who are relying on you to get them to school on time. The question then becomes what type of chassodim are ok to do (or ok to pass up without being mevatel an aseh) if it will cause them to be late, (and how late?).

Possible analogy: Would a paid driver be allowed to stop to do gemilas chesed on his employer's time? Is a carpool driver a paid employee of the other parents as they are paid by the other parents doing their shifts?

If this analogy is valid (comments please) I guess it becomes a question of whether we make a presumption that the "employer" would be makpid for the person deviating form their duty.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Twin mom anonymous said...

This is the twin mom -- I think you guys are missing the point: I did not want to drive in the carpool! If I joined their carpool, I wouldn't be able to join any other carpools because they wanted me to drive every day home. So I would have to be in the car any morning anyway for other kids. There were two people who called me several times to 'join' when I was quite clear I wasn't joining, ever. There is no need to call me to berate me for 'inconveniencing' you. I am not a volunteer minivan service!

Secondly, it was quite obvious they were using me as their babysitter. Most live-in's around me work Tues-Sat, so every working mom wants me (a SAHM) to babysit for their kids, oops, I mean, have a playdate with their kids, on a Monday.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

PSA: you can't join a carpool if you only have a five seat car and you need two of the back seats for your own kid and his baby sister. Oh well, guess Mommy will have to drive everyday both ways until we acrtually get something bigger.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

I'll put this in really, really simple terms.
1. Premise veahavta lereyacha kamocha is a pretty important principle
2. If you asked a friend to drop you off at the train station when you had a cast on your leg, and your friend said only as far as the Ave. b/c I'm bringing the children to school -- how would you feel?
3.Even if the other parents would prefer their children be on time on the dot, would they not recognize the extenuating circumstances?
Even the most makpid of the carpoolers considered herself justified in delinquency when she caught her car in a snowdrift and did not feel she was under an obligation to hire a snowmobile to get the children to school on the dot.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Twin mom anonymous said...

Twin mom anonymous here again -- don't think the irony isn't lost on me that complete strangers over the internet are also berating me for not joining the carpool.

To anonymous 2:40 who said "While you deserve respect for handling the double burden, you have no right to foist it on others." Excuse me? My children are not a 'double burden'! They are a double blessing, my life's greatest joy, a gift from HaShem! They ride properly buckled into carseats in a minivan with side curtain airbags because I treasure them more than life itself! Why do people berate me for choosing not to carpool with angry, rushed moms who want to buckle them in a booster in the front seat while her child rides properly?

Shaking my head over here....

5:49 PM  
Blogger Chaim B. said...

>>>Possible analogy: Would a paid driver be allowed to stop to do gemilas chesed on his employer's time?

In lomdus, I think this approach is correct. Carpool is a schirus relationship - you drive one day in exchange for 'payment' of your neighbor driving tomorrow (like the mishna of nachesh imi v'anachesh imach in eizehu neshech). The question is not whether doing another mitzva which does not impede performance of the first mitzvah is included in osek b'mitzva patur min hamitzvah (machlokes rishonim, just for the record), but rather do the implied conditions of this non-written contractual schirus relationship allow someone 5 minutes of deliberate lateness for a good cause. So much for framing the question. In terms of the practical answer, I think Ariella is right (and I'm not just saying that because I am her husband : ) I figure full disclosure is only fair).

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carpool full of boys who were quite rambunctious. I would just try and get them to & from yeshiva home as soon as possible. Pretty much all the parents felt the same way. However, there was one parent who felt the need to make stops and lecture the boys, causing them to come home at 1/2 hour to 45 minutes later than usual. Of course, the child of this parent had the foulest mouth of all.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

chaim b. - Heh, your wife is lucky to have someone as fluent in torah as you (not that she was doing a poor job in the discussion herself). I agree with you that she likely has the right of the situation in any case. I was kind of appalled by the way she was attacked by that one poster and wanted to bring the conversation around to academic rather than vitriolic discussion, which I'm more comfortable with anyhow bec. it doesn't require me to pretend that I know what the ultimate answer is.

7:31 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

Wow! What a conversation. While my carpooling experience is limited (and with G-d's help it will stay that way!!!), I have a few comments on carpools. But first, I have to say that I agree with Ariella that certain acts of chessed are worth a bit of everyones time, especially considering the fact that the nature of carpools is not timeliness:

1. I personally don't think it is safe to be driving around a bunch of children under the age of five years old. I realize that it is a "necessary evil," but young kids (as well as older kids) can be so distracting. I'm just not personally sure that I would want the liability.

2. When I worked briefly at the local Yeshiva school, I showed up well before class to get prepared during the davening period. I found it terrible that the teachers and Rebbes that were driving carloads of kids were pulling into the parking lot LATE!!! These kids were supposed to be in davening and the fact that they were not brought there on time threw off the entire morning, including the class that I was teaching. It was entirely unprofessional. And, this happened on a daily basis. Which, brings me to my next point:

3. IMO, kids should be dropped off at school about 10-15 minutes before school starts. They should be walking into school prepared to start their day. I took buses to public school for some of elementary and all of middle school. The busses arrived at school early and it gave students time to get themselves together for class. In middle school, nearly 90% of the student body was bussed in due to the location, and there were few tardies to 1st period.

4. For crying out loud, do NOT agree to a carpool that is beyond your capacity. It is disturbing to see a 2 or 3 year old buckled into a carseat in the FRONT SEAT of a minivan. If you can't transport children around safely, don't agree to do it.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I love your bar mitzvah story. Absolutely awesome.

The only story I have is that a neighbor whose son was just about to begin Sunday school stopped talkng to me because I wouldn't break a three year running Sunday carpool of 5 boys in three families, and join her 5 boys in 5 families carpool.

I've found that a very good way to determine whether a carpooling partner works is by finding out the newborn policy(even if you're not pregnant). If you believe in a month of flexibility , don't carpool with a "father, grandparent, or babysitter must pinch hit" group. It helps to discuss the last minute business meeting, family emergency, and car repair policy beforehand as well.

I've also noticed that "good" carpool partners tend to get recommended the next year.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Chana said...

Last year was my first year carpooling, when my daughter was in kindergarten. My AM carpool was a loud K boy and a quiet 2nd grade girl. Whne the boy wasn't in the car, it was bliss!

My PM carpool was the boy in K and a boy in 2nd grade (not the girl).

He was a pain. Always forgetting things and making us late. Loud in the car and got the other kids riled up.

I refused to do carpool this year, er, "made other plans". My husbnad takes our daughter to school every morning since now his job is not too far from the school. I pick her up in the afternoon and sometimes see the parent of the 2nd grade boy. I'm sure he's seen that I'm not in another carpool. LOL.

There have been times, though, when I've done a favor for the mom of the 2nd (now 3rd )grade girl and picked up her carpool, and then I run into another bit of happiness - the 1st grade girl and 2nd grade boy of a rabbi. The mouthiest, smart-aleckiest kids I've ever run into at that school!

Unreal, eh?

3:25 AM  
Anonymous anonomom said...

Sephardilady -- yes, I've been wondering how these five child carpools work. What if the driver mom has a younger child? That means one of the kids has to ride in the front seat. What if the mom has two younger children (say, an infant and a three year old). where do the other kids sit? Does this mom have to get a babysitter for her own kids for the days she does carpool for the older kids? How can this save the mom any money?

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to belabor, but the only one "vitriolic" was ariella who, in her original post, was quite judgmental of the mother who, within her right, chose to do a chessed in a way that helped the man who needed a lift and also got the children to school - her primary responsibility that morning. If each child/parent was asked, and agreed, to do the favor, certainly she could have dropped the guy off at the train. Barring that, it is certainly not a black or white issue, and certainly not one deserving of ariella's wrath. If ariella was NOT driving (as she clarifies in a later comment) that morning, why didn't SHE get into her car and drive the neigbor, instead of pawning the chessed off on the carpool driver, and then blaming the woman for not wanting to be delinquent in her primary obligation - the children she was driving to school. Not sure why this has become such a heated debate. No one has the right to FORCE a "chessed" on someone else or judge them for not choosing to do it the way they think is appropriate. No matter how many third grade pisgamei hashavuah ariella digs up, this basic common sense point is entirely absent from her thought process. Sorry, Chaim B. - next time tell your wife to drive the guy herself, or better yet, why don't you do it?

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OM--I hope you called the mother of the child who recited Tehillim whenever he heard an ambulance siren. That is absolutley adorable.
I work full-time, so no one will ever carpool with me, which I understand. What I don't understand is why parents will pile five toddlers in their minivan without carseats. I once asked a car-pooling mother about this. Her reply, "I drive carefully!" . And so does the drunk driver behind you.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Goy Guy said...

I've got you all beat.

One night we're hanging out with my neighbor, and she's telling us that her kid was talking about how when the mom down the block is running the kids to school she drops her two daughters off at high school first.

Seems that her 12th grader and her 9th grader are always at each others throats in the car because the older one doesn't like her little sister SMOKING A BUTT in the car on the way. Mom says to leave her alone, what can I do? What can I do? Most people would toss their kid out on the corner and make them hoof it, for starters. Its less than a mile.Then spend the rest of the day scheming up her pumishment.

The kid's got a brass set, I'll give her that. I won't get into what I think of dear old mom.

Top that ;-)

11:53 AM  
Anonymous onionsoupmix said...

Oh, you all are forgetting our favorite carpool lady. The one who drives with her van side doors OPEN and stops short in order to close them because she can't be bothered to close the doors normally. That's one person we are not carpooling with any more.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

For the last time, anon.
the point of recounting the incident was to explain how people's sense of perspective can be warped. I won't say what I could now -- such a good line, too. You keep getting the facts wrong. In any case, my husband was already on the train to work, I could hardly take the man myself once he was already getting into the driver's car, as she had agreed to take him to the Ave in response to his asking her directly for the ride.
But I guess she should have applied your logic and just said, "No way! You can limp all the way, miss your train and be late for work, but these kids cannot be a minute late!" Then the kids would learn about true Jewish values! And I suppose that Rivka immenu should have told Eliezer, "Get your own water, you lazy bum. My parents are expecting me back in exactly 5 minutes! And your camels will be draining my neighborhood resources!"

12:51 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Anon - vitriol (which is not how I'd describe Ariell's initial comments) directed against nameless third parties is one thing, vitriol directed against the person who is part of the conversation is quite another. You claim you are not being vitriolic, but even your most recent post (to say nothing of your posts upthread) focuses on personal attacks on Ariella's conduct (and you throw in her husband to boot). There was absolutely no need to resort to personal attacks - if you disagree with the standard she is holding people to, then articulate what you believe is proper and argue to support it.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty lame (no pun intended). Telling that an oh-so- impressively chumash savvy mitzvah gal such as yourself didn't exercise the requisite zrizus to offer the ride BEFORE this helpless man slowly and awkwardly hobbled down the pavement and delicately maneuvered into the carpool car, or did he race out in his feeble state and jump into the car before you had a chance to offer him a ride yourself? Or were you too busy feeding your own camels to anticipate the needs of YOUR disabled neighbor and found it easier to have your maidservant fill the trough and complain when she chose to take care of her own herd as well?

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Wo.

I don't have any kids, but if I ever do, there is NO WAY I'm joining any carpools after reading all of this! I am a freelancer who works from home, so I think I'll just drive my own kids back and forth every day, thankyewvewymuch!

Orthomom: I am dying to know what you said to that bar mitzvah mother, and how she reacted to your reaction! Please spill!

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my!!! I can't believe how out of control this has become...I have been doing carpool for a number of years now and I cannot imagine a parent of another child in the carpool minding the child being 5 minuters late to first grade in order to help out a fellow human being. I also can't imagine a teacher being upset about it either. I think we all have to use our brains a bit. Perhaps stopping at Dunkin Donuts for a coffee is not time well spent, but helping someone in need for FIVE MINUTES should really be a non-issue.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All things being equal, maybe. But there was another option here. Ariella chose to foist the favor on someone else and then judge her in the way she performed it. Not very nice.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the whole issue has been blown WAY out of proportion.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

So many annonymouses, but I am happy to see that some of them are not using their anonymity to lash out. So to the one who chose to attack me in the first place final clarification: I did not foist, for I was not the one asked. I made it quite clear that the man asked the driver herself. She had just picked up my kid, which is why I heard the exchange. Had he asked me, you may have a point -- but, don't let the facts get in your way. As your position is an untenable one, (except perhaps according to the doctrine of Objectivism) you've resorted to last resort of many who don't really have support for their arguments --an ad hominem attack.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that I once forgot to pick up my carpool from school. I used to leave work to do carpool and then go back after I dropped off all the kids (including my own-to my babysitter) and one day I guess I was really wrapped up in something and when I finally had a minute I looked at my watch and it was 45 minutes late. THEN because my luck is what it is there was a huge accident on Peninsula Blvd and it took 30 minutes to get from Church Ave to Franklin Ave...usually less than 5 minutes. I was so embarrassed. Oy it was terrible.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that I once forgot to pick up my carpool from school. I used to leave work to do carpool and then go back after I dropped off all the kids (including my own-to my babysitter) and one day I guess I was really wrapped up in something and when I finally had a minute I looked at my watch and it was 45 minutes late. THEN because my luck is what it is there was a huge accident on Peninsula Blvd and it took 30 minutes to get from Church Ave to Franklin Ave...usually less than 5 minutes. I was so embarrassed. Oy it was terrible.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ariella:
So your position is now that one should only do favors when asked, but that people who are asked to do favors are not allowed to set limits on the extent of the favor? As long as we're clear on your parameters for "torat chesed."
-original anon

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3:56 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

It is completely unacceptable on this blog to attack another commenter for presenting an issue that she has an opinion on. You disagree? Fine. Say so. But Ariella has said nothing that warrants the personal attack you anonymouse(s) have launched.

Enough.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in a Sunday school car pool as a kid in the mid 50's. If there was any chance of snow, one mother refused to take her turn. If one flake fell near her house on Saturday, she refused to drive on Sunday-by the way, I live in Minnesota!

6:44 PM  
Blogger Goy Guy said...

"I think the whole issue has been blown WAY out of proportion."

Ya think?

I think the ride to the Ave was good enough. The kids have gotta get to school.What did this guy just break his leg 10 minutes before? Needed a ride to the doctor? He knew he had to get to work. He could have called a cab or made other plans.

You tell him "The kid's will be late. I'll drop you on the corner or I'll drop you at the station on the way back around(if you can)."

End of story.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think ariella did the right thing, but I don't follow the whole osek b'mitzva potur min hamitzva analysis, as driving kids to school is a mitzva (and the primary way women earn s'char for talmud torah) so actually she is engaged in aiding talmud torah while carpooling (even if it's a pooled arrangement) and stopping for chessed. But I don't see why the kids can't be a minute or two late, it's not as though they will miss out greatly and the schedules can be adjusted if the guy needs help daily. I think people sound super uptight about the wrong things, or at least that's how it sounds from ariella's perspective - of course there are times when one can't stop and must leave the chessed to someone else, and it all depends on the situation -

2:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see I misunderstood the argument - so I take back my post of 2:42

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Rivka said...

I think there is also the issue here of a mom taking a bunch of kids *anywhere* else other than where she told the kids' parents she would go. Imagine if, on the way to the train station, she had been in an accident; how would the other parents feel, knowing she she should not have been going that way in the first place? If I trust another mom to take my kids somewhere, and then she deviates from the plan, even if it's for a good reason, I'm still going to worry next time that she'll take them somewhere else without me knowing. It's not a good feeling.

I guess I'm saying I think the mother did the right thing, for the wrong reason: she absolutely should have turned the disabled man away, but not because she wanted to get the kids to school on time. She was entrusted with children who were not her own, to drive them to a specific place, and to do anything else would have been a violation of that trust.

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