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Buses on Shabbat: What Would Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch Say?

"The Lord conferred statehood upon His people so that they might defend the enforcement of justice and preserve the truth contained in our Law as handed down by transmission."
Left wing party Meretz operated a bus line on Shabbat.

Left wing party Meretz operated a bus line on Shabbat.

So, Yair Lapid wants public transportation on Shabbat.

For even a casual observer of the finance minister, this comes as no surprise. After all, it was Lapid who wrote about the destruction of Gush Katif, “The Israelis merely felt that the settlers should be taught a lesson in humility and perhaps in democracy too.”

Note the implicit denial of Israeli identity to “the settlers,” who apparently for Lapid were/are something other than real citizens. And it takes more than chutzpah to talk about democracy vis-a-vis mass expulsion by a regime with a districtless electoral system that criminalizes “insulting a public official.” (Don’t worry, though: advocating the murder of traditional Jews is ok.) As for humility, given Lapid’s arrogant tendencies, this is like a compulsive gambler lecturing an alcoholic on self-restraint.

What does Lapid’s current pursuit of public transportation on Shabbat represent? A profound and forceful examination of the relevant themes can be found in the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch zt”l (1808-1888). Rabbi Hirsch observes in his commentary to Bereshit 14:1:

“Only if they devote themselves to the Torah with all their might will the people of Israel enjoy freedom and independence in this land…Everywhere, and at all times, let this warning be heard: Only on the basis of the Torah will Israel flourish; if it throws off the yoke of the Torah, Israel will go to physical and social ruin.”

Rabbi Hirsch likewise remarks on Pirkei Avot 5:11:

“The Lord conferred statehood upon His people so that they might defend the enforcement of justice and preserve the truth contained in our Law as handed down by transmission. If the Jewish State will carry out this mission, it can be sure of Divine support against all enemy powers, and no other nation will dare attack it. But if the Jewish State should cast off its task and destiny or put it to wrongful use, it will thereby become a nation at the mercy of fate just like all the other states of the world, and God will withdraw His protection from it.”

Specific to Shabbat, Rabbi Hirsch writes in Horeb:

“…even the smallest work done on the Sabbath is a denial of the fact that God is the Creator and Master of the world. It is an arrogant setting-up of man as his own master. It is a denial of the whole task of the Jew as man and as Israelite, which is nothing but the management of the earth according to the will of God.”

Rabbi Hirsch’s commentary to Vayikra 12:3 expands on this point:

“…Israel is the eighth work of creation, joining the seven works of the creation of the world. Moreover, Shabbos is a sign and reminder of the Creator, and Israel is the herald of Shabbos, bearing its message to all of mankind. Israel, as the ‘eighth,’ exists for the ‘seventh.’ The significance of Israel is essentially in its observance of Shabbos on the seventh day.”

Considered in these contexts, Yair Lapid’s objective is a brazen attack on national security, national duty, and national identity. (Yes, public transportation on Shabbat already exists in Haifa and Eilat, and who knows what damage that has caused?) May this malignant agenda share the fate of Lapid’s foray into kickboxing.

About the Author: Menachem Ben-Mordechai has written for numerous publications on subjects ranging from Israel and Latin America to the sport of powerlifting and life insurance. He has also coached elite powerlifters as well as beginners. Menachem's other writing can be found under the name Myles Kantor.


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7 Responses to “Buses on Shabbat: What Would Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch Say?”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    Israel needs public transportation of all types 24/7/365 (24/7/366 during leap years). If the Haredim don't like it, nobody's putting a gun to their heads and forcing them on the bus.

  2. Brian Kent says:

    100% on target.

  3. PERHAPS IF IT WAS FREE ON SHABBAT AND AUTOMATIC?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think there is something you must understand, there is no democracy in HaShems word, read the Torah, and HaShem will "TELL" you what He wants, and you obey! And as far as "Buses on Shabat goes" no, no Buses, it is Shabat, do you have no respect? Do you have no fear of HaShem? be careful of HaShem, He is not to be toyed with..you will get what you are looking for.

  5. Dan Silagi says:

    The Torah wasn't written by God, but by man, and not especially smart ones. God knows the universe wasn't created in 6 days, but in 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang, and the universe is still being created as this is being written, on Saturday and on every other day. If the first paragraph of Genesis has been scientifically proven to be wrong, why should I take anything else in the Bible as gospel?

    I am not an atheist at all, I just have a different concept of God than you and your ultra-orthodox compatriots do.

    You, jackuren, are exactly the kind of intolerant Jew that brings about anti-Semitism. Of course, there are lots of Christians who think the same way you do — my way is the ONLY way to worship God.

  6. Yori Yanover says:

    jackuren – I believe your perception of the relationship between Man and God is sadly repressive. Perhaps it's true that we create God in our own image?

  7. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi – If the Torah was written by men of less than average intelligence, why should anyone follow it?

    But in order for you to be permitted to make this claim, you need to share with us just how much Torah you've learned.

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