Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Can You Take Something? Please?

Commonly asked question: Are you flying to/from Israel?
Can you take something for me- please?
It's not that big/is that big/takes up a whole suitcase/will need to be packed in carry-on luggage/needs to be kept frozen.
I'm sure you wouldn't mind doing a mitzva, wouldn't you?
Thank you ever so much!!

I have people (wow, that sounds so egotistical) who fly back and forth from Israel to the US all the time. And they are constantly getting these questions asked. Some have said yes, while others have stopped telling people when they fly to Israel so they won't get asked any more.

The post office system, albeit as it is good (a regular mail letter gets here in 10 days, while a FED-EX special takes a month- go figure.), charges large amounts to ship anything bigger than a letter. So, the friends, family, and unnamed people who live in the same community as you get asked all the time- can they take something?

People might answer, "Sure, no problem". But this presents numerous problems. Firstly, if the giver hands over items to the taker, the taker should open each item and repack it. Why?
Because at airport security- they will ask:
"Has anyone given you anything to take?"
or "Did you pack these bags yourself?"

If someone gave you something to take- you should admit it. And, I believe it's not ethical to say that they didn't give you something, if you don't want the harassment of waiting in line a bit longer. At least, if you repacked it yourself- you can tell them- and then you can be confident that their search will find nothing.

This also proves something- Israeli security is excellent. Absolutely excellent. The amount of attacks that they have foiled are probably too numerous to count. So, don't gripe about the long lines, or the fact that you have to put your bags through 3 different x-ray machines, or that they may question you on how you know Ivrit so well with an American passport. Thank G-d, their hard work prevents problems on a daily basis.

But back to taking stuff. Some givers have the temerity to ask- can you do something special with the item that the giver is taking. For example- keep it in a bag with ice throughout the 12-15 hr. flight. Or, deliver it to the home of the recipient in Israel. Or, store it in your own home for months until someone comes to claim it.

These are the types of things that lead people to not want to take things anymore.

So- I propose a set of rules, if one would like to become a taker, and accept things from givers.
1. The giver should be very grateful that someone is doing them a favor at all- true chesed. They shouldn't demand anything.
2. The giver should understand that it is hard for someone traveling to deal with other items, and should make it as easy for the taker as possible.
3. The giver should allow the taker to repack everything, and to tell them what is inside in advance.
4. If the taker says- I feel like I can't do it this time- please don't fault them for being a non-chesedik person. Maybe they are really overloaded with their own stuff, or maybe they have been burnt too many times.
5. Do not give takers anything that is dangerous, or that they will have to sneak past airplane security. A challah knife should not be given to someone flying. Period. You want the risk, you take it yourself.
6. Above all- when the taker does take something, be responsible for it afterwards. Don't just leave the taker hanging in Israel, or have that item gathering dust for months. Be in contact.

I think these rules might facilitate more people to become takers, and more givers to be willing to give. Then, everyone can get their Ipods/tinfoil/oatmeal/clothing from overseas without a hassle. It's that simple.


Bas~Melech said...

HOW quickly can we forget the three kids incarcerated in Japan because they thought they could trust the people who sent a package with them?!

nmf #7 said...

We haven't forgotten them at all. They didn't check the package before, and they could have reported it to the authorities.
I hear they are still sitting, waiting for trial, but according to YWN, they are being decently treated.

rickismom said...

I think that everyone needs to warn their kids about this!!!!

mother in israel said...

My friend was asked to take a package by someone she didn't know very well. It contained jewelry, and a necklace apparently got lost. The sender suspected her of stealing it. It was very unpleasant.

nmf #7 said...

Rickismom- very true. Although, I suspect, with the heightened security, most people are more wary about taking gifts. Although, many still do lie when going through security, and say they've packed it themselves, when they haven't.
MII- Wow, that's an aspect I didn't even think about! Yeah, we probably should be careful about taking valuables as well, because you never know what could happen to them.