Sitting in the OU Israel Center’s conference room doing an interview for my Torah Tidbits article I realized clumsily I locked my bicycle around a parking meter in front of the building and didn’t even put the lock through the front tire. Hence, anyone walking by could simply raise the bike over the meter and ride off into the sunset, literally.
Trying not to worry I pictured stepping outside and seeing my bike, the little vehicle which a friend gave me upon his returning to the states four years ago. Would it continue taking me through the streets of Jerusalem beating the traffic, carrying Shabbos groceries, and challenging me to climb the hills of the capital?
My bicycle and I have had moments of near separation. I used to lock it up in the bottom of the stairwell in our building and noticed thieves periodically tried cutting the lock but always failed. However, so their efforts weren’t in vain, one time they removed the kick stand and on another slashed my tires.
More recently someone tried to pick my lock while I was at a briss in Talpiot. When I came out I had to intricately fiddle with the key just to get it in the slot. Since then its been a task putting the key in and on more than one occasion I thought I’d have to find heavy duty wire cutters to pry it free.
Bottom line: I was in denial but I needed a new lock.
It wasn’t till I ventured into the underground world of the Torah Tidbits orchestration that I realized I must purchase one immediately. Finshing the interview, I exited the building to happily find my bycicle where I left it but the lock was being less friendly than ever.
As I tried picking it with a paper clip and positioning the inside parts so the key would fit I realized there was only one way my bike and I were leaving together: appearing to steal it. And then I had an epiphany.
If you ever learned Halacha, Jewish Law, on occasion we are told not to do something because of “maaraas ayin,” or “it looks like” something we shouldn’t do. It’s like putting an obstacle in someone’s path that would cause them to possibly violate an important Torah precept.
Not sure why I was so concerned with someone thinking I was stealing a bike when it was my own bike, I looked to the right and to the left and began lifting it over the parking meter.
Just as I had it nearly over the top a 30 something-ish guy passed me looking at me quite suspiciously. -or was it me looking suspicious to him? There I am holding a bicycle in the air sliding it over a pole with the lock still on. I smiled pretending everything was normal and wall-ah, I was ready to ride.
In the interim I’ve since bought a new lock and I’m careful where and how I chain it up but I can’t help wonder what that guy still thinks, as my actions didn’t portray what was actually going on. Its something we’ve all experianced at one time or another but it still leaves a strange feeling. Ok, no one’s perfect but even though there’s never enough time to psychoanalyze every situation it was another lesson for me how without being too gullible we/I need to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often.
Oh, and to the thief who really tried stealing my bike: I pity the fool.