Today, on my way to work, I passed the scene of what looked like a minor car accident. No people were there when I passed by; all I saw was the damaged vehicle, a white Volkswagen Golf.
It had apparently struck a wall at the side of the road. Its right front fender was heavily damaged and its right front tire was flat. The front doors were open and the passenger compartment looked undamaged, though two deflated airbags dangled from the steering wheel and the glove compartment, respectively. It looked like anyone who had been in the car might have been lucky enough to walk away from the crash, and I hope and pray that was the case.
The sight—which was scary enough by itself—brought back an awful memory of one of my most frightening experiences, which took place on this very day, according to the Hebrew calendar, more than a decade ago. I was crossing a narrow street in my neighborhood when a motorcycle came down the hill to my right. I was already in the middle of the street when I heard the approaching motor and I froze, not knowing in which direction to run and thinking: Well, I guess this is it. The rider swerved to avoid me, but the corner of the metal box at the rear of his motorcycle hit my upper arm and sent me flying. The rider also fell off his motorcycle but was only scratched, thank God. My arm was pretty bruised but other than that I was fine. Both of us were very lucky.
It was the day after Rosh ha-Shana, the day after we begin asking God to inscribe our names in the Book of Life.
But the really creepy thing was that the night before, Israel Radio had broadcast a program on road safety during which various announcers read out the names of all the people who had been killed on Israel’s roads the previous year.
In time, the municipality redesigned that pedestrian crossing. I guess I wasn’t the only pedestrian who’d had a problem there.
To return to the present, it looks like someone else may have had a narrow escape the day after the New Year.
On each of the ten days between Rosh ha-Shana and Yom Kippur—what Jews call the Days of Awe—we add the following supplication to our regular prayers, which we recite three times a day:
Remember us for life, O King who delights in life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life—for Your sake, O God of life.
Amen. May it be so.