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Tel Aviv Mayor: Opening Shops on Shabbat ‘Won’t Disturb Anyone’

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose” – Janis Joplin.
An ultra-orthodox man blowing the shofar to announce the approaching Sabbath in Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

An ultra-orthodox man blowing the shofar to announce the approaching Sabbath in Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Hilla Gutrayman Flash 90

A change in the Tel Aviv law that would allow stores to open on the Sabbath “will not disturb anyone,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai stated in an open and written reply to Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel.

The rabbi said that the proposed permission for stores to open on the day of rest would desecrate the sanctity of the Sabbath.

Mayor Huldai claimed that only one percent of businesses in the city will be able to open on Sabbath and will be in areas where operation won’t bother anyone.

There are flaws in Mayor Huldai’s reasoning. He assumes that Jews in secular neighborhoods will not be disturbed by stores opening on the Sabbath.

He is dead wrong. There are no statistics, but it is safe to say that a sizeable number of “secular” Jews respect and love the sanctity of the Sabbath, even if they don’t observe it.

Moreover, the “one percent” of stores that he says would open on Shabbat, if allowed, is only the beginning. Competitors will be forced to follow suit.

Pro-secular activists always argue that preventing stores from opening on the Sabbath is “religious coercion,” a phrase that always brings out the catcalls for “freedom” from religious influence on the law.

There are laws that prevent business in certain neighborhoods form operating in the middle of the night, but “social coercion” is legitimate.

There are laws that prevent businesses, and residents, from making too much noise, but “environmental coercion” is permissible.

Any law restricts the freedom of some people, and that is allowed, but the secular fundamentalists cannot tolerate the thought of Judaism being an influence on laws in a Jewish state, for the simple reason they do not wan’t a Jewish state.

Hay want a state where Jews can live and practice their religion as they wish, son ,long as the their prayers in synagogues do not disturb the neighbors and so long as not too many people clog the sidewalk when walking back and forth to synagogue on the Sabbath, and so long as the Orthodox Jews don’t dare take affront at parades of homosexuals.

The anti-Orthodox activists don’t admit that they are practicing secular coercion.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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19 Responses to “Tel Aviv Mayor: Opening Shops on Shabbat ‘Won’t Disturb Anyone’”

  1. I think they should be kept closed. Atleast all Jewish owned.

  2. Gideon Jones says:

    Nobody but G-d that is.

  3. No they should not open on the Shabbat .

  4. Keep closed in Shabbat. It’s Israel!!!

  5. John Keytack says:

    Your quote is technically incorrect. The quote is a line from the song “Bobby McGee.” While it is true that Janis Joplin recorded the song and made it popular, she did not write it. The song was actually written by Kris Kristofferson. To be accurate, you should attribute the quote to him. Shalom!

  6. Arin Tanner says:

    NOT okay! Especially in the Holy land!

  7. André Nunes says:

    No one should push their believes on anyone. If shop owners want to stay open than that is their choice. No one should be forced to close…no matter what religion you belong to. Israel is a modern country. In the Christian world there are shops open on Sunday so why can’t there be shops on Shabat? We can not live our lives based on an ancient book. Israel is a country….it’s not a place made only for the religious people. I am proud to be of Jewish heritage, I am proud to be a Zionist but in no way am I religious. If you want to follow strict Shabat observance, good for you, but please don’t force anyone….you are not on Earth to police the people.

  8. André Nunes says:

    No one should push their believes on anyone. If shop owners want to stay open than that is their choice. No one should be forced to close…no matter what religion you belong to. Israel is a modern country. In the Christian world there are shops open on Sunday so why can’t there be shops on Shabat? We can not live our lives based on an ancient book. Israel is a country….it’s not a place made only for the religious people. I am proud to be of Jewish heritage, I am proud to be a Zionist but in no way am I religious. If you want to follow strict Shabat observance, good for you, but please don’t force anyone….you are not on Earth to police the people.

  9. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy.

  10. I sat behind Janis Joplin at the Filmore East in NYC during a Mark Almond concert. I really do not think the lyrics quoted pertain to national agenda. “Nothing left to lose”…..this is a quote every mother who has lost a child knows by heart.

  11. What’s the point of keeping Israel a Jewish homeland if every bum can change the definition of a Jew. Tread carefully Israel.

  12. I represented my orthodox synagogue at parliamentary hearings opposing restrictive Sunday shopping laws. I still maintain that opposition, regardless of the day of the week. Everything is in the hands of God except fear of heaven. It’s not R. Lau’s job to take away freedom; it’s his job to make people WANTto do the right thing. If people want to desecrate Shabbes, it’s very sad, but it’s not up to the government to stop them.

  13. Julia Bowman says:

    Don’t throw G-d’s commands under the bridge! Keep Shabbat and keep the Shalom……

  14. I am more concerned that “Jews” want to ignore Judaism in the Jewish State. Will we wait until they take it or change it? That’s happened before and it’s always the first volley against Jews existing.

  15. This is wrong! We must remember the Shabbat, to keep Shabbat. 6 days you will do all your work, but on the seventh day you will rest.

  16. Ken Man says:

    Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy….. If you so choose… What happened to a human right of choice.. Laws should be made for good reason not because of some one else’s religious point of view…the global village & all that

  17. it is not secular coercion to have stores open on Shabbos – I don't see why the government should not allow stores to be open on Shabbos – it is not the government's job to ensure people go to Heaven, that is the job of the rabbis. I don't see the problem with the stores being open, it is their choice. While I do feel it is a sin to do business on Shabbos, particularly if it involves Torah prohibitions such as writing, it is not the job of the government to legislate in regard to such matters. The Torah has already made it forbidden, and those who choose to ignore God's law have to answer to Him and to Batei Din, not to secular government. The entire existence of a Jewish State before Moshiach is forbidden, so having Shabbos enforced by a Jewish State is like taking a pig, shechting it, salting it, soaking it. Even if the shechitah, salting, soaking, etc. was all done in a Kosher way, it is still a pig. The same thing is here. Making Israel more of a "Jewish State" doesn't make it Kosher. What would make it Kosher is to drop the whole "Jewish State" nonsense and turning Israel into a non-denominational democratic republic with a Constitution that promises Jeffersonian values of Freedom of Religion, as opposed to the official State Religion of the Rabbanut adopted from England. The problem is yes there are those who are seeking to impose secular coercion, but having shops open on Shabbos is not part of that. Drafting Yeshiva boys into an army that doesn't need them for defense but rather only seeks to assimilate them away from their form of faith and culture into the official Israeli version is the problem. If the Jeffersonian approach was taken instead of the coercive approach (from either side), it would solve most of the problems. The first thing to do would be to privatize the Rabbanut. The funny thing is that many people blame the Haredim for Israel's problems, but the Haredim have no agenda of religious coercion by government means, but rather seek to offer kiruv in a free-market of religious ideas, without any ties to the government (although many Haredim do support the maintenance of Status Quo laws, which I feel is foolish in many issues, such as this one). Here it is the Modern Orthodox Rabbanut (yes, they are Modern Orthodox. Putting on a Kapote and a Homburg doesn't make you Haredi. They celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut religiously, so they are Modern Orthodox – nothing wrong with that, just don't call them Haredi) are the ones who are committing the religious coercion. Haredim want people to be religious on their own, not by government force.

  18. we are in Exile, it is impossible to have a theocracy until Elijah comes back and announces the coming of Moshiach, when a new Sanhedrin will be established. Without prophecy and without a Sanhedrin, how do we pick which form of Judaism is right? God put us in Exile and took away our theocracy because it wasn't His Theocracy, but our own. When we are ready to follow His Torah, He will decide it is time for this to happen. Before that, it is forbidden and dangerous to have a Jewish State.

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