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Parshas Ki Savo - Parking Permits & Passes    19 Elul 5778

08/30/18 12:49:44

Aug30

Every generation goes through a transition period. There are people alive today who are able to recall the transformation of travel from horses to car to air. Technological evolution and the changes it creates require all of us to adapt and adjust. Younger people grasp onto these new fangled inventions much more easily those of us born prior to 1990. One of the ways a person ‘stays young’ is by adjusting to life’s new surroundings, whether style, technology, or even the architecture of our cities. As a middle-aged man, I try to familiarize myself with the ever-increasing speed of technology and what is available to us Vis-a- Vis new computer devises and the Internet. Most times, the changes are for the better, often saving time, money and aggravation. In my opinion something that saves time, money and aggravation is a blessing. A recent experience I had with this is the College Area parking permit B process.

Due to the impact of university student parking in the neighborhood, the city issues parking permits for the residents of the area in order to avoid an overflow of students parking on the street which would cause a lack of space for residents to park. Over the last twenty years the process for obtaining these passes has improved immensely, but only for those who can handle basic computer know how. Years ago, I had to go downtown (and pay for parking) with my proof of residence, a form for each vehicle, copies of licenses and registrations and then wait in long bureaucratic lines. The cost of each permit was fourteen dollars per vehicle plus an additional fourteen dollars for a guest parking pass. Fast forward twenty-three years. All of this is now easily completed at your leisure from the comfort of your home. The forms are on-line; and all you need to do is scan the other documentation and pay by credit card. We can all appreciate how computers and the Internet save us time and aggravation. But how does this save us money?

One would think that with the advent of computers and much of the filing and processing done by humans in the past, we should save money on labor. The reality is that most prices and charges in life never go down, despite any decline in the costs of the items. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule due to economic conditions and price fluctuations. Rare is the occasion, however, when a charge or a price has been fixed for over twenty years and then is suddenly reduced! To my utter shock and disbelief, the area B parking passes actually dropped from fourteen dollars to nine! A five dollar reduction! I am so happy that I’ve decided not to contact the city to check if there may have been some mistake. Perhaps San Diego is unique, as a similar situation regarding elimination of the Coronado Bridge toll. The city stated the toll would be removed soon as the bridge construction costs were paid. Lo and behold, the city lived up to its word and the bridge toll is no more! This is probably the only suspension bridge built in modern times which costs drivers nothing to cross. There is no question they could have argued the money is still need for repairs and upkeep. Instead the city kept its word. I’m only assuming that the cost of processing the parking permits has gone down, and the savings is now being passed on to the residents – which is, of course, the right thing to do.

 

This time of the year focuses on change and transition. We try to modify and adjust our spiritual existence for the better, hopefully using precious time efficiently, spending our resources on spiritual growth, avoiding aggravation in the coming year and world to come. But how do we know if something that begins and appears as a blessing will continue to be that blessing? A hint to this can be found in this week’s Torah reading 

In this week’s Parsha Ki Savo the Torah states in Devarim 28:6: “Baruch Ata B’Voecha, U’Baruch Ata B’Tzeisecha” -“Blessed are you when you enter, and blessed are you when you leave”. Chaza”l learn out this verse with regard to sinning, a person to leave this world without sin just as he entered it without sin. This notion sounds wonderful, but one issue we have is how do the sages come to this idea? The Gemara in Eruvin 13b states: “ ת״ר שתי שנים ומחצה נחלקו ב״ש וב״ה הללו אומרים נוח לו לאדם שלא נברא יותר משנברא והללו אומרים נוח לו לאדם שנברא יותר משלא נברא נמנו וגמרו נוח לו לאדם שלא נברא יותר משנברא עכשיו שנברא יפשפש במעשיו ואמרי לה ימשמש במעשיו. “The Rabbis taught: For two and a half years Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel argued. Some said better or easier for a person not to be created more so than be created. Others said a person is better off being created more so than not be created. A vote was taken, and the results were better for man not to have been created rather than be created, but now that he was created he should feel out or check out his actions to examine his ways and deeds. Based upon this Gemara what blessing is there upon entering this world? How is it a Bracha for a person to come into this world?

Tosafos addresses the question and answers with a distinction as to the kind of people we are denoting. If we are discussing a Rasha - an evil, bad, or wicked person - he surely would be better off never having entered this world because he runs the risk of sinning and being punished on the way out or in the next world. A Tzadik, a righteous and good person, is not only good for him to come into the world, but it is even good for his generation. The generation that has great people living among them benefits everyone as they learn from them and access all the good fortune they bring. This distinction could very well explain the difference of opinion between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel to the extent that they both agree to each concept being attributed to a Tzadik or a Rasha. That is why the opinion is anonymous regarding both individuals: we just don’t know which person said which statement.

When a person leaves this world without sin, then retroactively it will have been a blessing for him to have come into the world in the first place. That is a Tzadik. The opposite, however, is also true. If a person comes into this world and grows full of sins, then we view his life retroactively that it would have been better if he had not been born. Most people know are neither completely righteous nor completely wicked. We are the ‘benonim’ - the average people whose actions nevertheless impact us individually and collectively as a community. Let ‘s use the remaining days of this year striving, focused to become Tzadikim with fewer sins so that moving forward into the next year will be a blessing as it was when we came into this world.

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Mon, December 17 2018 9 Teves 5779