Friday, August 24, 2012

Are You a Tzadik if You Fill Someone Else's Parking Meter?

The Jewish internet has been passing around this story about two tzadikkim - a chareidi youth and a parking meter checker who, well, read it yourself. See here for the original item.
I have a number of questions about the story:
1. Is it really illegal to fill the meter for others in Israel? I'll ask a policeman friend and let you know. From what I can tell, some municipalities outlawed the practice because it was eating into parking revenue, which the government counts on.
2. Let's assume that it is. How then is someone a tzaddik for breaking the law - even if it helps out someone else? Sure, you might have saved five people from a hundred shekel ticket. But that money has to come from somewhere. The city's budget isn't going to change, and if doesn't make the money from the expected ticket revenue, it's not hard to imagine where the money will come from. More likely is that the ticket taker has a quota, so instead of ticketing that row of cars, he'll just move to the next row. Which means that our tzaddik saved one group of people money, and cost others.
3.  Which leads to our ticket writer. He probably found the whole thing amusing. See #2.
4. Finally, as I've written before, Israel is quickly moving away from paper tickets and meters. Most locations don't even have meters anymore (you have to put a slip of paper on the dashboard). Also, many people are moving to automatic payments using their cellphones, and there's no way at all to tell if they've paid, unless you're connected to the police system.
So, in all likelihood, our tzaddik (if you can call him that) was probably wasting his money.