Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The definition of insanity, or the need to learn from tragedy

Purim will be upon us in another month.  The costumes, the hamantashen, the mishloach manot, and the one part of the holiday that chills my blood.
Picture, if you will, the following scenario.  My intercom sounds, and the light indicates that someone is at my front door.  "Yes?"
A little voice answers: "Tzedakah!"
I come to the door, dollar bill in hand.  A child is on the other side, sometimes more than one.  They're either carrying cans or holding books of raffle tickets emblazoned with the name of their yeshiva.  The children are usually between the ages of 5 and 10.   And, without exception, there is no parent in sight.
You would think after last summer, we wouldn't have this situation.  We would know that little children need to be protected from strangers.  That a mezuzah is no indication that the house is safe.  Yes, in ninety-nine percent of cases, the person gives the kids a dollar each and send them on their merry way.  However, there is always that one percent.  The one person who looks normal, but isn't.  The hidden psycho who would abduct a child and murder him. 
I realize how busy parents are today.  For overwhelmed parents, it's easier to send the kid off alone on a collecting spree with strict instructions to stay on the block, only knock on doors with mezuzahs, or don't go inside anyone's house.  But how many young children will remember that when confronted with a nice grown-up (maybe even a friend's parent), who says, "Come in, sweetheart, and have some cookies."  And then, every parent's worst  nightmare begins.


  1. My dad used to take us to go around selling girl scout cookies or what not. He would stand at the street and we would go to the door by ourselves. He never would have let us go by ourselves-NEVER.

    Also, even if someone looks like a psycho, usually children aren't developed enough to pick up on this the way a teen or adult would.

  2. Unfortunately, psychos don't wear signs. Case in point--Levi Aron.

  3. No, psychos don't wear signs but the reason they make the news is because they are still thankfully quite rare. Yes, there is a potential danger to our children but what's the alternative? A world in which children never learn to look after themselves because a parent is always around to take care of everything? How do they grow up? How do they learn the skills we did?

  4. A bit of an either-or, wouldn't you say? Most organizations that use children for fundraising require that a parent or group leader supervise all interactions when selling to strangers. There is a big difference between shrink-wrapping your kids, and allowing them to knock on people's doors unsupervised, especially when the children are still very young. (And some of these children are about five or six--way too young to be knocking on doors by themselves.)


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