I read Rabbi Yair Hoffman’s article about placing stickers on parked cars (“Stickering It to the Bad Parkers,” June 14). One day last week I came to my car and found a Post-It attached with local advertising on it. When I removed it, there was residue on the window, and I thought that the person who attached it was a gonif for doing so. I don’t like any advertising left on my car; I’m the only one who has the right to attach or authorize the attachment of anything. The article was very interesting and struck a chord with me.
Rabbi Hoffman responds: Yasher koach and thanks for writing. My rosh yeshiva, zt’l, used to say that we should have two standards of behavior—one for ourselves and another for what we expect from others. So for ourselves we should consider it hezek and assur; for others we shouldn’t be so makpid if they do it to us (remember, Hashem treats us the way we treat other people in this regard). As far as strict halachah goes, it probably is a hezek. In “Elokai netzor” we add the words “v’nafshi sidom lekol tihyeh,” so as not to have someone else punished on our account.
Rabbi Hoffman’s article is very informative; however, since when is putting a sticker on a car damaging property? You are simply causing the person the aggravation and time it takes to remove it. Is that considered damage?
Also, why does he not address how one recoups his loss of time and income from the blocking of his driveway?
Keep up the good writing.
Rabbi Hoffman responds: I think that it is considered a hezek, albeit a small one. The owner has to clean it and remove it.
Regarding “stickering” outside a shul: Would it not be an idea to have a sign outside the shul clearly stating that by parking illegally, the driver accepts that his car will be stickered? This way he will have accepted the “damage.”
I appreciate that even if the nizik accepts damage, there may be a she’eilah as to whether permitted, but here there is no real hezek, only a loss of time in removing the sticker. Surely that would be acceptable. Am I wrong?
Banning Boorish Behavior
As usual, Rabbi Yair Hoffman brings to light informative halachic perspectives on everyday issues. Many of us have been subjected to inconsiderate parking behavior in shuls, and while it appears that the offenders are limited in number, they are repetitive violators. We need halachically sanctioned means to ban this boorish behavior, or “BBB.” May I offer some ideas to continue the windshield sticker campaign to BBB without running afoul of either secular law or halachah?
First let me turn to dina d’malchusa dina and the alleged illegality of stickering cars under NY Penal Law. I did a search on Westlaw, a computer legal database, and found no reported case of anyone being convicted of criminal mischief for using the windshield sticker to BBB. Moreover, NYC Sanitation has for over 20 years put stickers on illegally parked cars. If this action were illegal, then Sanitation would need some enabling act to permit them to continue with their own BBB.
However, I did find two civil cases where someone sued the parking lot about the sticker. There the court said while the parking lot “has the right to tow the car away . . . it does not follow that plastering of stickers is permissible, though it may be argued that it is less interference than towing. The particular interest the landowner seeks to protect gives rise to the scope of his permissible action. Here the landowner chose not to tow but to warn; therefore a plastered sticker is not necessary.” Reed v. Esplanade Gardens, Inc. 93 Misc. 2d 71 (App Term).
There was no reported criminal case, so it does not appear as dina d’malchusa should come into play. Even if this BBB would be theoretically illegal, still dina d’malchusa should not apply since its application is typically confined to laws which are universally enforced and obeyed and have a direct effect on the government’s revenues or safety; see Tzitz Eliezer vol. 15, responsa 49; Igros Moshe, Choshen Hamisphat vol. 2 siman 62; and the Rosh on Gitten daf 81. If dina d’malchusa had such breadth as Rabbi Hoffman implies, then even speeding a few miles per hour over the limit would violate this halachah. So I think we are safe on the criminal law side to continue BBB with stickers, though shuls must post “a sign stating the name, address, and telephone number of the tow operator, the hours of operation for vehicle redemption, towing and storage fees of the tow operator and the hours vehicles are prohibited from parking and subject to tow” (NYC Adm Code § 19–169.1 [a]).
I found one case which even sanctioned the stickers if notice thereof was conspicuously posted on a sign—kind of like a charge to park. This could be a different way at looking at the shul’s attempts to BBB. Maybe the shul could post a sign that people may park for free in the regular parking spots, but must pay more (i.e., by accepting a sticker on their car) for the first time they park in the wrong spot, and then towing them if they continue to park in the “more expensive, non-authorized spots.” Clearly anyone who obstructs a public area like a shul’s parking is a “boor b’reshus ha’rabbim,” and any ideas Rabbi Hoffman has to support BBB are appreciated.
Abba S. Novak
The Mesorah Of Chesed
Thank you for publishing Barry Jacobson’s brilliant article in your newspaper. Barry said what many of us have felt but were not articulate enough to express. I hope it does not fall upon deaf ears!
I was inspired and elated after reading Barry Jacobson’s article in the 5TJT. I consider myself chareidi (whatever that means), being a shtreimel- and beketshe-wearing Jew, and although I disagree with some of his comments (some of which I believe are also factually erroneous), what he wrote needed to be said, written, published, and read! It is a shame that his article cannot reach the average reader of Hamodia or Yated due to their stringent self-censorship and absolute blindness to opinions that differ somewhat from what they consider “daas Torah.” It is about time that we realized that there is “ayin panim laTorah” and just because one disagrees with another’s point of view it does not discredit the person. I might add, that before we begin with chesed, a necessary prelude to that is tolerance for what we disagree with and a recognition that Absolut is a vodka, and not Judaism! As the Chasam Sofer said in his teshuvos, each of the shevatim had their own nusach in tefillah. Certainly, none of them claimed that the other was wrong. Different and legitimate points of view in avodas Hashem is something that makes us unique among nations.