The Matzav Shmoooze: When Are People Going to Learn?


baby-car-seatDear Editor,

I work at a store in shopping center. This afternoon, I had a customer who was in my store for about an hour, taking her time, sparking conversation, etc. About halfway through her trip through the store – a big store – I noticed she had a baby with her who was not there earlier. I thought it was a little odd, but then I just blew it off, thinking maybe her husband was in another part of the store with the baby, and maybe he had brought him over or something.

After the lady checked out, she asked me to watch her cart on the sidewalk while she went to the car with the baby. As she pulled up in her minivan, I realized that there were three children in the car, one looked about 5 or 6, the others were still in car seats. The windows were tinted, which is why no one noticed the kids were alone while their mother was shopping for an hour.

I gave her a piece of my mind, and let her know that she was breaking the law. She apologized to me, and looked really ashamed. This was a 30-something-year-old mother.

It’s scary to think how often this happens. Boruch Hashem, her kids were unharmed.

What is wrong with people? I guess last minute shopping was more important than her kids. I didn’t call the cops, but maybe I should have.

When are we going to learn?

A Concerned Mother


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. No, you should not have called the cops. You gave her mussar, you did your share. You are a Yid. You do not maser on another yid. Yankel, have you ever been in the clutches of these people who look to take away someone’s children from them and make them tzoros, ad sha’ar Hashamayim?

  2. you should NOT have called the cops! Giving her “a piece of your mind” was the right thing to do.
    sounds like she got the message

  3. Offer her to bring the kids to the store next time, and that you’ll be delighted to take care of them? Suggest your boss to set up a corner with toys, drinking water, and sweets, where children will be safe and quiet while their accompanying adults can shop? It can actually be an ace, in today’s very competitive business. Sound to me preferable options than covering her with insults or threatening to call the police (as if they were safer in foster families). But of course, no one tries to feel what it’s like to be in other people’s shoes – that’s why tonight we won’t be wearing any.

  4. @ #10 – Most of these people, if not all, are simply acting foolishly in thinking that it can’t happen to them, it’s only for a minute, etc. They do not mean any harm and love their children. No – it is not child abuse, just stupidity.

    If calling the police would mean a fine and the scare of being arrested or such, then perhaps it would be a good idea. Unfortunately, they can’t differentiate and it almost always leads to investigation from child services and possibly having their children taken from them.

    Why should parents who are otherwise well meaning and love their children have to suffer through that. For most a good scare or wakeup call to bring the point home would suffice.

    What we need is a campaign to bring awareness to the community of the dangers and stupidity of leaving children unattended in a car (even with the air-conditioning on). News headlines after the fact are too little too late.

    It is not our duty to call the police and bring untold suffering on said parents. If you see or find out about children left alone in the car then call hatzolah/chaverim/shomrim etc. and take care of the children. Tell the parent/guardian off and leave it alone. If you want to do more then start a public campaign of awareness.

  5. Our bnos Yaakov schools spend so much time lecturing on sleeve length and skirt materials, maybe they could also devote a few hours to child safety? After all, most bnos girls are going on to be mothers, so isn’t this just as important as not wearing denim, or learning batul b’shishim?

    Let’s get our priorities straight.

    BTW, since most yeshiva bochrim are going to be fathers, maybe the yeshivos could devote a little time to basic parenting issues, such as safety. You can teach lo sa’amod in the abstract, but you need practical advice on hom to implement it.

  6. Daniela:

    Most of us have been in her shoes, and put our kids ahead of a leisurely shopping trip. The mother was in the store for an hour! (“…taking her time, sparking conversation, etc.”

    Also, while you may be happy to see the store’s prices increase so that an employee can be hired to babysit, most of the rest of us are not.

    Let the mother bring her kids into the store with her, as inconvenient as that may be. Isn’t her children’s safety, which should be her responsibility, worth her inconvenience?

  7. #1 – as the word “lo” indicates it is a mitzvas lo saaseh. also, i would be a bit hesitant to jump at that, being that you would be oiver on lo saamod yourself – causing her, her husband and yes, her kids untold grief. I know it feels good to be overzealous and feel like you are the protector of the weak and enemy of the wicked, but there are other things that could be done. if you care so much, what are you doing to stop this travesty – to stop this tragedy waiting to happen, to stop this crazy irresponsibility? giving her a piece of your mind may feel good, but do you have that much to spare? Go attack this problem in a comprehensive manner.

  8. This is very sad, but please don’t call the police. Many good parents have forgotten their kids in cars. I read a report about it. It happens to doctors, lawyers, teachers – anyone.

  9. It is pure mesira to call the cops after the fact. Technically she could have halachicly killed you if you tried to call the cops.

  10. yeh all the cops!!! or you know what even better just let that lady have it but good and open her blind eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Good point #16 it is more serious than an asei. Not calling the police is a lav dioraisa (though one avoided via kum veasei). thank you for the correction.
    As for the grief, not calling the police may cause the parents a lot more grief. It feels good to keep the torah and protect children at the same time.
    #13 actinc stupidly and in therby putting children in mortal danger is textbook child abuse
    #8, no I have not bh since i am not reckless with my kids. Though i dont get your point, have you ever baked to death in a car?