Ten Commandments for Hitching a Ride

[from parashah sheet "Maayanei Ha-Yeshua" – Parashah Behaalotecha 5768]

It is popular in Israel for Jews to give each other rides, especially in places where buses run infrequently. These rules are for this situation and NOT for outside of Israel when one should NOT hitchhike. This text is to show what is occurring in Israel and proper behavior which can be applied to many situations (While this list was created with young adults in mind, much of it would apply to anyone).

1. Precedence
Even if you are first in line, fulfill the mitzvah of kindness and let a woman with kids, a pregnant woman, an elderly person or a Torah scholar go first. Do not say: What about me? Don't worry, your turn will come and it is always best to have a good heart.

2. A Secure Ride
Do not get into a car unless you are one hundred percent certain that the driver is not an Arab. Remember: There have already been horrible cases, one in particular, in which an Arab dressed as a Jew with a beard and kippah killed a Jew. And if you are a woman, it is not enough that the driver is a Jew; you must be certain that the driver is trustworthy. Only travel with someone you know to be trustworthy or a man who is traveling with his wife or a similar situation.

3. Modesty
If it is a driver of the opposite sex, sit in the back seat if there is room. If a person of the opposite sex is sitting in the back seat already, it is okay. If there are two sitting in the back, do not enter and squeeze them.

4. Manners
Do not ask the driver: where are you going? This is not your business. Rather you should tell him where you need to go. You certainly should not ask the driver to charge his course for you. If he suggests it on his own – great.

5. Burdening Others
You should seriously consider whether you should hitch rides and benefit from others. We are not beggars who “sponge” off other people. Therefore, take money with you and travel by bus. Only take a ride if you are in a place where there is no public transportation or you have to wait for a long time.

6. Honoring Parents
If your parents are against you hitching a ride – do not hitch. After all, they are the one who give you the travel expenses. Even though you are already an adult and according to the basic Halachah you are not obligated to be just like them in thought and deed, the halachic authorities say that in unimportant matters you should give in to them, acting beyond the letter of the law. And why is this? Because they do many things beyond the letter of the law for you which are not required according to the Halachah, because they are concerned about you. Therefore, do not be stingy and ungrateful to only do for them what you are obligated to do, but act beyond the letter of the law. When you are independent and live on your own, you can act as you wish.

7. Sit quietly
Do not talk with a friend during the trip, if it disturbs the driver. He may want quiet during the trip. Do not even talk in a whisper. Similarly, do not talk on your cell phone, as it will disturb the driver. If you must talk, and it is really necessary, ask the driver for permission and speak briefly and quietly.

8. Cleanliness
Do not make a mess - I am embarrassed that I even have to mention this. Do not bang on the door, it can break – I am also embarrassed that I have to mention this. Obviously do not smoke, do not even ask the driver for permission.

9. Do not make comments
If the driver is driving erratically, do not make any comments. It is your problem that you took a ride with him. It is obviously not okay, but he did not appoint you to be responsible for giving him proper instruction. He permitted you to enter his car which is like his house, and not to get involved with his private life. If he is driving dangerously get out in the middle of the trip and give some reason without insulting him, such as a change in plan.

10. Thank You
When you enter say "thank you" with a smile. And say "thank you" when you get out as well. You do not have to say "Tizkeh Le-Mitzvot – May you merit performing other mitzvot." You can say it like a normal person: "Thank you very much."