Wednesday, January 11, 2012



from the Old City of Jerusalem with Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths


An American Yeshiva student who is studying here in Jerusalem wrote:

     “I was walking back from the Kotel (Western Wall) Friday night after davening (prayers), when an Arab wouldn’t let a Jewish man go by with his carriage... a fight started... then another Arab ran after a bochur (yeshiva student) and started choking him! We (about 6 guys) just couldn't go further…. I thought, ‘He's going to kill him!!’

     “My friend started to help the bochur, then an Arab gang started coming after us… kicking us and punching us. I ran for my life, leaving my hat on the ground. I was afraid to pick it up, thinking they would step on me. I screamed for help. But there was no answer.

     “I ran until the next turn, where I found the police standing there as if nothing was happening! In the end, the police didn't do more than tell us, ‘Go further. Don't stop.’ The police didn't do anything! The justice system here is corrupt!!

     “But what bothers me is that since then I haven’t been able to go pray at the Kotel. I used to daven vsikin (sunrise) by the Kotel every day for a few months, but now it's already over 40 days since I’ve seen the Kotel! And that's what bothers me.

     “I thought about learning martial arts, or getting a license for a gun. But I have to know how to protect my gun, and using a gun isn't the solution every time. If you have some advice, please reply to me. I’ll really appreciate it. What should I do?”

Gutman’s Answer:

     Unless you plan on spending a lot of time with martial arts, they are not going to help in such situations. You could learn one or two effective techniques, and become very proficient with them, and this might be very useful.

     A gun is not the answer, not only because someone could grab it from you and use it, but, you could very easily end up killing someone without proper reason!

     My suggestion is for you to purchase the strongest legal defense gas, or pepper spray. These sprays are used by police forces all over the world and are very effective. They can turn away the most aggressive attackers, and they come in slender cans that weigh only an ounce. Get a couple of them, and train yourself so you know how to use it. Then, carry one in your pocket whenever you will be in a neighborhood with arabs. If you have the defense spray and a couple of self-defense techniques, you will feel secure wherever you are.

     Also, walk around bad neighborhoods, especially in stressful times (this can be challenging as a foreign student or tourist, but can be done by spending a few minutes chatting with some locals to get the lay of the land and areas to avoid or that carry extra risk). The extra five minutes could save you a lot of trouble. 

     Although we have to prepare ourselves for the worst, remember, it is Hashem Who sends us whatever comes our way. Talk to G-d when things are going smoothly for you, and all the more so, talk to Hashem when dangerous things happen.

(May Hashem guard you in the future, and yasher koach for taking action to protect another!)


  1. Think carefully because deciding about the pepper spray: the attacker may use it against us, and even if (a big if, unless someone is a trained police officer or similar) one succeeds in using, it is almost impossible that we avoid the spray cloud ourselves. There is no easy solution, and whenever possible we should avoid confrontations and leave. The police, you already know about it. Also, please never use martial art techniques in the street, even if you master them. They are meant for the tatami and for a honorable adversary. They are not meant against someone who attacks you.

    PS I can't help noticing that, differently from the supposed incidents, these things are well-known, happen every day, and there will be no demonstration.

  2. Thanks for posting this. It is already boring to complain that if it had been Arabs attacking Jews, it would've made the New York Times and Haaretz would already be breathlessly self-flagellating.
    And the policeman would've intervened.

  3. Tali, it seems that you wrote that backwards. Perhaps you meant "If it would have been Jews attacking Arabs it would have made the headlines and the police would have intervened."

  4. One thing that you said that bothered you, is that you are not able to do the morning prayers at the Kotel... that bothers me too. I would suggest you might find another place to pray. HaShem hears us wherever we are. Continue to pray, no matter what comes your way. It's your most powerful weapon.

  5. Sure, but once upon a time it was very difficult to pray at the Kotel. There were houses and small streets (like the rest of the old city) where now it's a big space, and there were bad people throwing stones. As for people who did not reside there, some of us may remember the Jordanian king taking upon himself to "guarantee" that everyone could pray! They even introduced a special visa, for the jews who wanted to enter in Jordan to pray, among the admiration and applause of the united nations and the western countries. Of course such visas were never issued.

    That there should now be problems for someone who wishes to pray? At the Kotel where everyone can? Including the pope, etc. etc.? These "problems" look to me like Soviet Union....

  6. actually a can of strong insect killer is better than pepper spray - it spits out faster and has a longer range.

  7. Pepper spray in GEL is excellent the wind will not send it back to your face when you use it.
    Buy it, and listen to the Reb advise, learn 2 techniques and practice them a lot, and yes use them if you are in danger, it is legal to protect you in self defense if attacked.
    I learnt boxing for 3 years, it is very efficient and contrary to karate etc it takes a year to be quite good at it (karate 4 years at least) so learn boxing.

  8. I did write it backwards. Thanks for the correction.

  9. Gutman, what about the incident just down from your place where an Ultra Orthodox Jew attacked an Arab carrying his groceries home for when the Arabs bag bumped him in the narrow stairway tunnel coming up from the Cardo to your street. The Jew was acting like a animal. We had to pull him off and hold him back. The arab finally defended himself and pushed the Jew down the stairs to get rid of him. The Jew then started stomping and kicking the arabs groceries like a nut. Understanding that if the situation was reversed I doubt if arabs would have pulled a fellow arab off of a Jew. Possible but history speaks different.

    If we followed the Torah Gutman and cleansed the land like it say's then neither the Jew or the Arab would have had this encounter. But since we don't, what do you expect. The behaviour of all at times is incredible chilul haShem.


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