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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘shabbat’

Survey: Vast Majority of Israeli Businesses Prefer to Stay Shut on Shabbat

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

As many as 92% of business owners in Israel are not interested in keeping their shops open on Shabbat, and 98% stated that they are not asked by their customers to stay open on the Jewish day of rest, according to a new survey released by Israeli business information group CofaceBdi.

The survey covered 135 Israeli businesses spread countrywide, and clearly showed a reluctance on the part of business owners to work on Shabbat, despite calls from secular Israelis to designate Shabbat as a vibrant shopping day.

While only 8% of business owners said they would like to stay open on Shabbat, almost all the respondents, 98%, said they are not receiving requests from their customers to make their shops available on Shabbat. A mere 2%, about 3 shops, reported hearing from customers that they’d like to shop there on Shabbat.

Interestingly, only 21% of respondents said they would see a rise in their daily income should they stay open on Shabbat. 32% expected their Shabbat income to match their regular days’ yield, and 47% expected to take in less on Shabbat.

The vast majority of respondents said staying closed or open on Shabbat should be left to them to decide, while 19% preferred that the decision be enforced by the authorities.

All of that having been established, 51% of business owners, who mostly don’t want to work on Shabbat, said there should be countrywide public transportation on Shabbat — 49% said there shouldn’t be.

CofaceBdi Co-CEO Tehila Yanai told Ynet that the majority of business owners said they just needed a day off. Others said the kind of traffic that they’d get isn’t worth staying open. A few said they were religious.


Newcomer Rabbinic Organization Launches Lower East Side Eruv Against Establishment View

Friday, September 30th, 2016

The Downtown Va’ad, an Orthodox rabbinic network established in 2013 as a “unifying platform for Orthodox rabbis to advance the welfare and flourishing of our now surging downtown Jewish community,” on Thursday announced the establishment of an eruv, a legal fiction allowing Jews to carry objects on Shabbat.

“As of today, all of Lower Manhattan has been joined to the larger Manhattan Eruv,” declared the group’s announcement, defying a generation of Orthodox scholars, most notably the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who was the halakhic authority for North America’s Orthodox community until his death in 1986. In the 1950s, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kasher proposed the establishment of an eruv in Manhattan, but the Lithuanian yeshiva deans, including Rabbis Aharon Kotler and Moshe Feinstein, objected to the idea. The major controversy that ensued was resolved by a statement from Agudas Horabonim (Rabbis’ Association) which quashed the Manhattan eruv for the next fifty years.

The Downtown Va’ad’s press release recalls the process that brought the new Manhattan eruv to life: “In 1999, a new eruv was constructed on the Upper West Side under the advisement and supervision of the Machon L’Hora’ah of Monsey. In 2003, this Eruv was extended to include the Upper East Side community, and then in 2007 — with the assistance of Yeshiva University (Stern College), local congregations, and several individuals and families — the eruv was expanded to include a portion of the downtown community. … Recently, the Manhattan eruv was further extended to include the entire southern portion of Manhattan, specifically the region below 14th Street. This project was initiated by the Downtown Va’ad in conjunction with the Manhattan Eruv leadership. … The extension was facilitated and supervised by the Machon L’Hora’ah and continues to be checked and maintained by them. All halakhic (legal) matters are deferred to the Machon.”

According to the press release, “this eruv development is simply the expansion of the pre-existing eruv; one that most Manhattan rabbis have publicly supported. We understand that the halakhic institution of eruv is complex and we honor and respect all rabbinic and communal perspectives on the matter. We encourage our constituencies to pursue guidance from its own rabbinic authorities and to continue the spirit of mutual respect and dignity that Jewish practice demands and engenders.”

The new initiative is likely to raise an objection from the traditional Orthodox leadership of the Lower East Side community, led by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s sons, Rabbis Dovid and Reuven Feinstein. These legal scholars follow their father’s view that in densely populated Manhattan it is impossible to ever erect a legitimate eruv. Hopefully, the Lower East Side community, which is one of the most benign Jewish communities in America, will weather this storm, especially in light of the fact that we’re entering the Days of Awe.

The simplest possible explanation regarding the halakhic dispute over the eruv goes as follows:

Jewish law recognizes three domains: private domain, where one may carry on Shabbat; public domain, where one may never carry on Shabbat; and an in-between domain nicknamed K’Armelit, meaning “like a widow,” who is not married and not a virgin. A Karmelit domain can be converted into private domain using a symbolic wall and doorway, usually represented by a fishing line attached to poles all around the converted area.

No one disputes that part. What is being contested is the definition of a public domain which cannot be considered a karmelit and therefore cannot ever be converted into a private domain, no matter how much fishing line you’ll tie around it.

The late Rabbi Feinstein followed the view cited in the Shlchan Arukh (OH 345:7), based on a Babylonian scholar cited by Rashi, that since the laws of Shabbat domains are delineated from the configuration of the Israelite’s camp in the wilderness, which was considered an irredeemable public domain, and since there were 600,000 males over the age of 20 in that camp, we should view any area populated by 600,000 people or more as public domain.

Many disagree with this view, because it isn’t mentioned explicitly in the Babylonian or Jerusalem Talmud, nor by Maimonides and other key medieval scholars. Also, does the rule mean there should be 600,000 people moving through the place or living there for it to qualify as public domain, and should they all be males older than 20?

The opposing view, which the new rabbinic group seems to uphold, is based on an explicit Talmudic citation (Shabbat 6a), defining public domain as a main road, 20 feet wide, going through a city from one end to the other, connecting to other cities in either direction. Imagine the cities of antiquity as an aspirin pill, with the line going through the middle. That’s the road, and the fact that it is connected to the wilderness on either end makes it a Mavo Mefulash, a passageway that’s open on both ends. Since Manhattan does not have such a road leading to the wilderness, goes this view, it can be turned into one big private domain via the eruv. Alternatively, if one were to consider the bridges and tunnels leading into Manhattan a problem in that context, then each local community, such as the Lower East Side, can erect its own eruv — meaning one cannot carry into neighboring communities on Shabbat, but one is permitted to carry in one’s own neighborhood – see the accompanying image above.

One is reminded of the story of two study partners who have been poring over the Talmud together for years, and one of them invites the other to his son’s wedding and wants to honor him with one of the blessings to the couple under the canopy. His partner says he is, indeed, honored, but, alas, he isn’t Jewish.

– What do you mean you’re not Jewish? We’ve been learning together all these years…

– I’m interested in it intellectually, but it doesn’t make me a Jew.

– Wait a minute, I see you on the street on Shabbat in your suit and tie — you know a goy gets the death penalty for observing Shabbat! (It’s actually the law, look it up)

– I take care of that by always carrying something in my pocket.

– Yes, but we have an eruv!

– Huh! You call this an eruv?


Haredi MK Blocks Train Funding over Shabbat Works

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) has not approved the transfer of $171 million to the new projects of Israel Railways, according to a Tweet by journalist Amalia Duek. Duek cites sources in the Transport Ministry who accuse Gafni of revenge tactics, saying the delay in payment would result in delays in carrying out the work in preparation for the new fast rail from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Ministry is also concerned about potential lawsuits from contractors who haven’t been paid. MK Gafni, meanwhile, has told Duek he would examine the transfer request “when I see fit.”

Meanwhile, the renovation and preparation works continue full blast. At midnight Sunday Israel Railways shut down its three (out of four) stations in Tel Aviv for eight days, to be reopened a week from Tuesday. The massive project will match the stations and the rails passing through them with the new, electric, fast rail to Jerusalem.

Over the next eight days, the railway service will be running buses between Herzliya and Tel Aviv, in both directions, as well as buses from Herzliya to Ben Gurion International. Police on Monday morning reported worse than usual traffic delays in all the arteries leading into Tel Aviv.

The war between the Haredi coalition partners UTJ and Shas and Prime Minister Netanyahu over railway works that had been scheduled to be performed on Shabbat two weeks ago turned out to be a mere skirmish, as neither side was interested in fighting. However, the real battle ensued between Netanyahu and his Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), followed by a more reserved showdown with Welfare and Labor Minister Haim Katz (Likud). That internal fight in the Likud party was resolved with a win by points for Netanyahu (no knockouts, both ministers are still alive and kicking). Against this background, MK Gafni’s decision appears both vindictive and unhelpful.

Transport Ministry officials told Kikar Hashabbat that “if it turns out Gafni is operating out of political considerations we will view it seriously and act accordingly.”

Gafni, one of the most powerful committee chairmen in the Knesset, responded, “I’m not obligated to debate every agenda item that comes up. I will weigh it, and if the proposal has merit, the money would be transferred.” Which means the Railway will get the money eventually, because this is a government project, but the folks at Transport will have to sweat blood over it because of their Shabbat works fiasco.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, the Haredi parties are angrier at Police Commissioner Ronnie Alshich, an Orthodox Jew, more than anyone else, because Alshich was the one who came up with the idea that those works constituted “pikuach nefesh,” meaning saving a life, which is permitted on Shabbat. Which stands to show you, never go to a cop for halakhic rulings.


Biblical Game of Thrones [audio]

Friday, September 9th, 2016


On this week’s show: Kings, Prophets, Priests, and Necromancers all compete for power – but who is top dog?? And is there a separation of Shul and State? Rabbi Yishai is joined by Rabbi Mike Feuer to discuss the Torah’s system of Israeli governance and how to balance Biblical politics with the commandment to walk simply with God. Plus, how to keep the fruit trees from being harmed in a time of war. Prepare for Shabbat with Spiritual Cafe!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Yishai Fleisher

Shabbat, The Foundation Of Our Heritage

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The term for Shabbat as an “Oasis in Time” belongs to Abraham J. Hershel. While describing the Shabbat and its beauty he suggested that the Shabbat is an oasis in time. For a brief moment, as we usher in the Shabbat, time, as we know it, stands still. All our unpaid bills, office hassles, and professional aggravations are put on hold as we dedicate one day to God.

For six days prior, we pretend to believe that we are in control of our lives and our destiny. We think we have the power to make choices and to effect change in this world – that we are in control of our own destiny. Shabbat comes along and sobers us up. It literally becomes a reality check. No, we are not in control. In reality, we can only affect a very small portion of our lives.

When I describe the central theme of Shabbat to my students, I always focus on that point: that Shabbat is a time when the Jewish People recognize their mortality and in essence declare that G-d is in control of the universe.

Almighty G-d is truly the one who shapes our destiny and the destiny of the entire world. When Shabbat enters, we acknowledge this with modesty and introspection. We recognize that we are only a speck in this great world and only a small impression in the unfolding of time.

For me Shabbat represents one of the foundations of Judaism. There are so many laws and concepts in Judaism that baffle me and that I have little understanding of. But Shabbat is the one practice in Judaism that resonates so clearly of its authenticity and truthfulness.

As an educator I have always believed that teachers should realize this as well. Shabbat is not a time to burden students with extra homework assignments. Instead, it is a time for students to focus on their families and the interrelationships of a successful family. When we really get down to it, the basis of all of Judaism is centered around the family. Synagogues and day schools are both important but they take a secondary role to the importance of one’s family. The essence of Shabbat is the uniting of one’s family; completing homework assignments only serves to take away from the spirit of the day.

In the secular world this idea became a reality in the small town of Ridgewood, N.J. Parents were so concerned and involved with the success of their children that they loaded them down with every conceivable extracurricular activity. They became “hyper” parents, transporting their children to and from sports, music and dance activities, losing site that they were destroying the very essence and fiber of what a family should be. They finally recognized that they were working against themselves. “Let’s plan a night where nothing is planned,” said Marcia Marra the original organizer of this evening. The idea was “designed to let families do whatever they wanted.” This would be a time when families would focus solely on improving the dynamics of their family. No baseball games, no ballet lessons, no band or sports activities – just a time to relate to what is really important in life: loved ones and family.

The experiment was successful. People started looking forward to doing it again next year. It afforded families a chance to step back and appreciate the true blessings that they had in their transient existence. It made them realize that all those extracurricular activities that they provided their children, though important, pales to the importance of the time spent with family.

The Jewish people were given this gift every week. Those Jews who take advantage of this great treasure savor every minute of it. They focus on the enduring aspects of their lives: our Torah, our families, and our children. For the Jewish people, the experiment in Ridgewood was not something new.

For us it is called the Shabbat, an oasis in time.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss

Knesset to Hold Special Debate on Shabbat Train Crisis

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

After the signatures of more than 50 MKs havebeen submitted to the Knesset Secretariat, Speaker Yuli Edelstein decided to convene the plenum on September 19, while the Knesset is still in recess, to discuss motions for the agenda on the following topics:

1. The degradation of Shabbat and the harm caused to soldiers and civilians due to the train crisis

2. The political conduct of the government and the person at its helm caused severe harm to tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians

3. The hysterical conduct, lack of planning and waste of millions due to personal political considerations

The debate will be held in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a.k.a. “the person at the helm.”

The Knesset Rules of Procedure determine that, in accordance with the Basic Law regarding the Knesset, when at least 25 MKs demand to convene the Knesset plenum during a recess, the Knesset Speaker will schedule a special debate.

David Israel

Haredi Interior Minister Plans Closing TA Businesses on Shabbat Save for 3 Malls

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

After several years in which Israel’s coalition governments have not been rocked by battles over the status of Shabbat, the past two weeks have seen a possible reemergence of those old barricades, with both secular and religious politicians mouthing predictable platitudes about holiness and tradition vs. freedom and rights. In that context it should be noted that until Tuesday this week the Haredi parties did not look particularly eager to return to those tiresome confrontations, seeing as they had turned a blind eye for ten years on Shabbat works carried out by the Ministry of Transport, until the same ministry, intentionally or due to political myopia, made public its intentions to conduct massive works on Shabbat, complete with blocking off many of Tel Aviv’s vital traffic arteries.

Now Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) has launched his own campaign in an attempt to torpedo the recommendations of a committee of experts that examined the Tel Aviv municipality’s bylaw which permits operating businesses in the city on Shabbat. Deri is advancing legislation to impose a sweeping ban on all businesses in Tel Aviv, including newsstands and kiosks, with the exception of three open air malls: Tel Aviv Harbor, Jaffa Harbor, and HaTachana Mall in Jaffa. The bill will also permit keeping open convenience store attached to gas stations.

The commission of directors of government ministries that was appointed to look at the Tel Aviv municipal bylaw will submit its findings sometime this September, and according to leaks in Israel’s media, those will include three recommendations: the first one recommends accepting a new bylaw crafted by the Tel Aviv municipality allowing 160 businesses to operate on Shabbat; the second recommends reducing the number of businesses currently permitted to operate by 20%; and the third recommendation, proposed by former Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, to designate specific areas where businesses are permitted to stay open on Shabbat.

Once the committee recommendations are delivered, and the new Tel Aviv bylaw goes into effect, Interior Minister Deri will have 60 days to respond, after which the new law stays. Deri apparently plans to fight all three recommendations, even at the cost of eroding the Netanyahu coalition, and his staff has also been instructed to craft an atomic solution, to be used only if the coalition is certain to collapse, declaring Shabbat as the day of rest for all of Israel and barring everything that moves from doing it on Shabbat.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/haredi-interior-minister-plans-closing-ta-businesses-on-shabbat-save-for-3-malls/2016/09/06/

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