Posts tagged " safety "

Wife vs. Friend

May 24th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 11 comments

I’ve been married for 18 years and we have 3 beautiful kids.

I think we have a problem. My husband is helping a friend by letting him borrow his truck a for little more than 2 months now. Every Thursday my husband drives the 2 youngest ones to school in our two passenger van. I asked him to ask his friend to return our truck so he could drive the kids to school safely, but he said that he is helping the friend and can’t ask him that yet.

Help me understand if I’m being selfish when my concern is the safety of the kids? On top of that his friend has been using the truck for more than two months. I think this has been enough time to get on his way, since his is getting paid regularly.  I assume he’s doing okay because I heard that the friend even loaned money to someone.

Do you think I’m being mean to my husband and his friend? I also laid out my views and concerns for my husband, on the first day he let the friend use the truck. I was even concerned that we may be holding his friend back from moving forward and  getting the better things in life for himself. 

Thank you so much for everything that you and Susan do. I watch your show every day on TCT and I’m now reading one of your books. I have a much better idea of things now because of you.


Gina S.

Dear Gina,

We’re delighted that you find our shows and books helpful. That encourages us to keep taping and writing.

You are actually asking three different questions:

  1. Is your husband driving your children in an objectively unsafe way?
  2.   Is your husband giving his friend help in a way that keeps his friend from taking responsibility for his own life?
  3. What say do you have in how your husband helps his friend?

It is possible that your husband thinks that doubling up on seating is perfectly safe but you don’t. However, we have a suspicion that your concerns do not stem entirely from the safety issue or you wouldn’t have let your husband drive the children even once in an unsafe manner.

You might be right that it would be good for the friend to become more independent, however you can’t know that for sure. It is possible that your husband’s friend has shared confidences with him that you don’t know about or that other factors are in play.

The third question is really the pivotal one in terms of your marriage. We feel that your question is far more of a state-of-marriage question than it is a child-safety question or your concerns about the friend’s own situation.

When you are married there is no such thing as “your husband’s truck.” This might be different if you are very wealthy and the family has many vehicles and your husband used discretionary income that you both agreed was his alone to buy a truck, but that isn’t the situation for most typical families.  If the truck is your family vehicle, the two of you should have agreed whether it should be loaned to a friend and for how long.

It seems to us that you may be feeling hurt because your husband is putting friendship ahead of family and that he acted on this family-concerning matter without your agreement.  Maybe you are also feeling that your husband doesn’t appreciate how hard you work doing all the school driving except for this one trip that your work schedule doesn’t allow you to do. 

Or, perhaps, you think that you are both being taken advantage of by this friend. Is it possible that your husband also thinks that it is time for the arrangement to end but doesn’t know how to do that?  These are all legitimate questions and all should be discussed.  But they must be discussed in the right way in the right place in the right time.  Remember, the main concern here is not cars and trucks, or friends or even children, but the marriage. 

Whatever the case, you now have a bit of a sore point in your marriage that needs to be healed.  It is quite possible that from your husband’s perspective, this is just about the truck.  It would be quite typical and entirely understandable that he has no clue how this has started to impact your feelings about him and your marriage.   Try and be sensitive to this masculine world view. 

We encourage you to find a quiet and stress-free time to talk to – and listen to – your husband. Before you can do this, you need to make sure that you can speak without sounding angry or hurt. Ask questions. Acknowledge your husband’s kindness while asking if there is an end date in sight. Find out why he thinks this in no big deal or is the right thing to do. Analyze together whether there really is a safety issue (how far is the drive; is there a lot of traffic…). Is there another solution? Could your husband and you switch vehicles on Thursday so you drive the van and he uses the car you usually drive? Be open to the idea that this loan may continue for a while longer while, at the same time, helping your husband see your point of view.  Perhaps he, in turn, can try to remember that in future, these kinds of actions are joint husband/wife decisions. 

We see this as another of those wonderful opportunities that arise in the life of a couple to grow the marriage.  The process is first for each of you to see the entire matter from the other’s perspective.  Make frequent use of the phrase “Just to be sure I understand, are you saying that….?” 

The next step is that even if you still disagree, you each learn how to give the other the respect of acknowledging that their point of view can also be valid.  The final and most important step is for both to realize that when two people are married, they can each retain different ideas and the couple can function quite well.  However, once ideas have to become actions, the couple as one unified entity can only take one action. 

For instance, one of you might think London is an ideal vacation destination while the other prefers Miami.  This is no problem until you have to decide where to spend two weeks this summer.  Clearly a compromise that places you mid-Atlantic is no solution.  One way or the other, you have to decide whether to go to London or Miami in a way that does not leave anyone feeling beaten or resentful. 

This can best be achieved by discussion particularly in an atmosphere of love and appreciation for one another. 

In the case of some disagreements, it is enormously helpful to bring in an independent third party “arbitrator.”  As a matter of fact, we advise newly marrying couples to select such a person in advance.  (This is RDL now:  early in our marriage we both agreed on my father. To my astonishment, in about two thirds of the issues on which we consulted him, he sided with Susan. But we were both fine with his rulings and we both accepted them with no stress on our relationship.)

Take care of each other and safe driving,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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has something to say about this completely innocent question about a truck?

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Speed limits are limiting my freedom!

September 3rd, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


OK, I admit it–I love to go fast. So when the local city council keeps lowering the speed limits, I get frustrated. The argument is always “safety,” so it’s hard to find fault, and I know I need to drive safely, yet I sense my rights are being taken away under false pretenses. What should be my Godly response?
∼ Chris


Dear Chris,

OK, we admit it. One of us does like to drive faster than the other.  Much faster.  Wild horses couldn’t force us to disclose whether it is Rabbi Daniel or Mrs. Susan.   That said, one of us can relate better to your question, and again we’re not saying which one.  Though it might seem trivial, you are actually asking quite a serious question.


Who Wants to Get Hurt?

September 7th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 2 comments

Don’t you love synchronicity? God places different things in our path at the same time so that we can view them together. The recent headline, “Workplace Injuries Down” coincided with my reading a fascinating book. In the early 1970’s Jan Wong was a nineteen year old Canadian student of Chinese descent. Like so many of her peers she viewed the western culture in which she was brought up as decadent and evil, while the communist/socialist vision represented happiness and prosperity for all. Unlike her peers, she had a chance to move to Communist China and attend school there.

In Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now, and its sequel, A Comrade Lost and Found: A Beijing Memoir, she writes with candor and brave self-examination of her experiences.  Ever so slowly, her naive belief in Mao and the system crumbled, as she came face to face with the reality behind the propaganda.

She writes, “I noted in my journal that the skies were a startling azure, but it didn’t occur to me that the lack of pollution was due to lagging industrial production. As I biked down car-free streets, I thought happily that China had chosen the right path for development.  I didn’t think about how the very old, the very young, the handicapped, the sick, not to mention entire families, got around the vast city. Everyone glowed with health. China resembled a Colorado health spa. There was the same low-cholesterol vegetarian diet, known as meat rationing. There was the same early-to-bed regimen, known as power outages. And instead of working out with a personal trainer, the Chinese just plain worked. The only difference was you could never check out.”

I had to laugh (though it wasn’t funny) when the same day as I read that paragraph, I also saw the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that workplace injuries fell by 17% last year. At least reporters openly acknowledged that injuries were down because of unemployment. Since fewer people were working, there were fewer opportunities to get hurt.

Imagine the utopia of no workplace injuries, no car accidents, and no mass salmonella outbreaks. We could achieve that. All we would need to do would be to shut all workplaces, close down the food industry requiring every family to eat from its own back yard or window garden, and ban cars.

One of the greatest Jewish rabbis of the late 19th and early 20th century, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, told his students that people should keep two pieces of paper in their pockets. On one should be written, “For me the world was created,” and on the other, “I am nothing but dust and ashes.”  Two opposing views; both true. It takes a great deal of maturity to integrate them and live with both those ideas constantly in the forefront of one’s mind.

Similarly, it takes a great deal of maturity to accept that trying to eliminate all risk eliminates life. A nineteen year old might be excused for shallow thinking, though he or she can do great damage at the ballot box. But those of us older than that need to know that the government that acts on its promise to deliver total security, safety and equality can only deliver an unsafe, subsistence level existence equally to all (well, those in power would do unequally well).

When Labor Secretary Hilda Solis responded to the Bureau of Labor report by saying, “A single worker hurt or killed on the job is one too many…,”  she joins a long list of statements by politicians of both parties that sound good and are ridiculous. At one and the same time, the government should care about workplace safety and also know that complete workplace safety comes at the cost of shutting down all workplaces. I doubt whether the Americans out of work, who may well be facing increased depression and illness for lack of having a paycheck, feel better hearing that the administration wants to reduce workplace injuries even more.