By Rabbi Yosef Shubert, Matzav.com
[We have been asked by a number of Hatzolah volunteers to repost this article.]
We all strive to be mechanech our kids with good middos and sensitivity to others. Yet, there is one activity which many parents may never have considered objectionable, but actually creates seriouys problems for Hatzolah. Moreover, this activity also encourages negative middos.
Many children – and even some adults – in our communities have access to scanners. Matzav.com spoke to Hatzolah volunteers in Flatbush, Boro Park, Lakewood, the Five Towns, and Williamsburg and they have all attested to the fact that young members of these communities have access to a scanner, which is a device that enables the user to pick up communications of fire department, police department and ambulance dispatchers.
“For a child, or for one who wishes to hear the ‘hock’ or post information online, it is an appealing action-packed activity,” a Hatzolah members told Matzav.com. “He gets the immediate scoop on emerging situations, such as motor vehicle accidents, and races over to the scene, usually accompanied by an entourage of friends.”
“Often,” the volunteer added,” after arriving at the scene, the child or adult will begin to take pictures and videos to share with friends or to immediately post on the internet.”
For Hatzolah members, the congregated throngs are more than just a nuisance. They’re counterproductive, often getting in the way of help and almost always aggravating the victim’s family’s discomfort and anguish.
“That’s not to mention issues of privacy and decency,” the Hatzolah member told Matzav.com.
From a middos perspective, the use of scanners poses serious problems. Firstly, it encourages “yentishkeit” at the most base level. Perhaps worse, it relegates a fellow Jew’s moment of anguish to an object of curiosity and morbid fascination. Instead of gawking and being the first to know “the reid,” these children and adults who engage in such behavior should be encouraged or told outright to steer clear of the scene and instead say a kapittel of Tehillim on behalf of the victim. Lastly, as mentioned, there may be other sensitive information that can be picked up on scanners which may not be appropriate for children, or may not be public knowledge for adults and should not be publicized via photos and videos, online, or even simple conversation.
So please, for our good, for our communities’ good, for the Hatzolah volunteers…ban the scan. And if you see people are these scenes, tell them to leave. And if they are taking pictures that may reveal sensitive details or people’s identities, tell them to stop. Do what’s right.