For the week ending 9 August 2008 / 8 Av 5768

"Cross Me the Street"

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: It often happens that I see a child about to cross a busy street without an adult escort. Must I assume that he has his parents' permission to cross alone or is it my responsibility to prevent him from endangering his life? What is the right thing to do?

Answer: So many tragic traffic accidents could have been prevented if children under the age of nine would have asked an adult to help them cross the street. It may be true that some reckless parents fail to warn their children against crossing alone but that does not free you or any adult at the scene from the responsibility of saving a life.

You may run into the problem of the youngster being offended by your suggestion that he is incapable of taking care of himself and therefore refusing your help. To solve this problem you can take a cue from what a renowned Torah scholar in Bnei Brak did in just such a case. He walked over to the eight-year old standing on the curb and asked him to do him a favor and help him cross the street.

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