Friday, May 25, 2018

Parshas Naso – Guarding our Children and Hot Car Deaths

Shavuos is past and it is already Parshas Naso.

So let us start with a very short vort on the Parsha.

This Parsha teaches us the Birkas Cohanim which most of us also use as part of our personal Birkas HaBanim on Shabbos and before Yom Kippur. In a recent conversation, somebody told me as follows.

The three segments of the Birkas Cohanim can be corresponded to three stages of a young person’s life.

יברכיך – May Hashem bless you and guard over you.

This is when a person is in his childhood years. He needs to grow and thrive. He will be running, climbing, exploring and doing all kinds of risky stunts. For this he needs a special beracha of shemira – protection.

יאר – May Hashem enlighten His face to you and train you.

This is when a person is in his school and Yeshiva years. We pray for Hashem to shine upon him the light of Torah and education for his adult life.

ישא – May Hashem acknowledge you with favor and place upon you peace.

After his schooling and education, he must marry and deal with the outside world. He must learn to get along with his wife and the rest of his society in order to succeed. For this he needs a special beracha of Shalom – peace.

Let us focus on the first segment of the Birkas Cohanim – the need for shemira for small children.

To us, Shavuos and Parshas Naso marks the second half of “summer zman”, when the learning season winds down and the thrills of summer escapades are on the horizon. And things start getting hot. Sometimes very hot. In fact, here in Yerushalayim we were blessed last week with a day or two of almost 100 highs. And when it’s close to 100 in the open air, it can become a real oven inside a car.

We are all aware of hot car deaths. They are among the most heart-wrenching tragedies imaginable. Especially since they are 100% avoidable. It can happen to anyone. The most caring, conscientious, and experienced of parents (or older siblings). All it takes is a very fleeting understandable bout of absent-mindedness and one’s life is lost (a recent news item actually mentioned two twins, R”L), at least two others are ruined and a marriage, even if it survives, is irreparably damaged.

There seems to be an organization that keeps track of these incidents. You can find it HERE. They claim that since they started tracking in 1998 they have documented 749 cases in the US. Comes out to almost 40 per year. This is in the US. Here in E"Y it is even hotter and there's less shade. We are not strangers to these tragedies.

These are the known cases and these are the ones that ended badly. I am certain the number of cases which had a happier ending, but were just as perilous, is in a multiple of – who knows? – 5 or 10 times. I can even attest to perhaps two minor (B”H) incidents involving my own children under my care.

The reason I am writing this is that I very recently saw in a news write-up a very effective method of minimizing these devastatingly tragic incidents and I cannot hold back from sharing it. If it prevents even one incident, it is mekayam an olam malei.

The method is this:

When you strap your child into the car seat in the back, take something you cannot be without such as your wallet, your pocketbook, your cellphone (if you can spare it), or even one of your shoes, and wedge it underneath or behind the child’s car seat.

This way, in case you forget to drop the kid at the babysitter or nursery and go on to your personal destination, when you get there, you will want to retrieve your missing accessory and VOILA! –there’s the baby - quiet as a mouse!

A shoe is a bit awkward but is relatively fool-proof. Wallets and cell phones may still be overlooked (I have left them in my car plenty) but still you will discover it’s absence [hopefully] soon enough.

May we all have a great and safe summer and never ever hear of these needless tragedies.

May the children be blessed with shemira, Torah, and Shalom!

Good Shabbos


Additional posts on Parshas Naso – my magnum opus on Evolution:
       Evolution - Fact or Mishu-Gosse?

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