Wednesday, October 31, 2018

There But for the Grace of God...

the Atar family of Netanya, BDE
I can't blame.

I hurt so much for the loss of the Atar family, of eight precious neshamot, of six children, little seeds not even fully germinated... Everyone is in pain over you, over the loss of you. As we should be.

But I also hurt for a man and his family. A man who stupidly decide that he could drive and text / who reached for something that fell to the floor of his car / who tried to drive and answer the call of a loved one in crisis / who chastised a child driving his sibling crazy in the back seat / who spilled much-needed coffee on his leg and glanced down / who argued with his wife about her mother / who was momentarily distracted by something on the side of the road / who changed the channel on the radio to please his teenager, with whom he'd been struggling to make peace for the last tumultuous six months...

He is/was no doubt a normal good guy just a few days ago. He probably worked hard. He perhaps played with his kids, and did what he could to make sure they didn't drive their mother up the wall. Maybe he was trying to lose a few kilos. He had a letter on his desk that he meant to finish and send to his grandmother... but in a moment, his definition as a human being changed. In just one moment...

Everyone needs a good phobia.

I am not afraid of heights. I find spiders and lizards fascinating, snakes and rodents mere annoyances.

I don't like crowds, even though I love human beings individually...

But I am terrified of driving. Why? All of the above. So, though it inconveniences me and my family, I don't. I just can't.

I am terrified that I will make a small, stupid decision that will steal someone else's child from the world. That's my phobia of phobias.

Most of you have no choice. You have to drive.

Before ye judge... just be sure that you are absolutely certain that you will never, ever be distracted. Do your due diligence. But don't judge. We can't afford the luxury, in a world that moves too fast.

Rest in peace, precious Atar family. Rest in peace, soul and conscience of one poor, momentarily stupid human. I cannot imagine your pain. But you have my sympathy. I would probably have a very hard time continuing to live if I were you. I hope that the people around you can help you to remember that you still have work to do in the world. It's what any one of us would want, if we let ourselves down so completely, in a moment of carelessness. Please God... don't let all of us around you fail our tests.

NB: Since I wrote this post, more information has come out, some confirmed and some speculative. Readers have informed me (with a lot of grace and sensitivity) that there may be much more to this story than we knew in the hours after it happened, which is usually the case. It is possible that the driver didn't merely make an error in judgment, but has a history that I prefer not to express here for two reasons. I don't know for sure about the details of what is alleged, and don't want to misspeak. And the overall message could apply to so many situations we have all been in when a small error in judgment can change our lives... and I want to remind us to learn from them, but to leave the judging to courts of law, and to The Judge.


  1. Sigh. So true. All of us our simply trying to do our best with our limited vision.

    1. Indeed. We must continue to try to do our best, and remember that our vision is limited. Well said.

  2. Ruth,thanks for writing about this. Using the phone while driving is one of the biggest hazards on the road and I see it all the time in our community and every where. It's not enough to try to stop it. Just don't do it anymore, it puts all of us at risk! What a tragedy!

    1. Well said. Just don't do it. Or any of the other things that we "think" we can drive under the influence of...

  3. It's impossible to understand why the Ribono shel Olam allows these tragedies to befall us. All I can think to do is dig deeper within myself to do teshuva and try to improve, even just a tiny bit. Only I know what I need to do, where my weaknesses are. We all just have to try a little harder. Thank you dear Ruti, for another thought-provoking, well-written post.

    1. Thank you, my friend. We must answer to our own weaknesses. You are right. May we be successful.

  4. Gd makes so many miracles that prevent death. We are spoiled. So when He decides, for whatever reason--maybe to remind us that we must be more careful-- not to override nature, and people die or get very sick, we complain.
    The "accident" was caused by a man; his free will or lack of control. It's not that he had meant to cause those deaths, but he apparently took chances. Gd willing drivers will be more careful to prevent other tragedies.

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