Shabbat and Bar Ilan Street

After several months, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that Bar Ilan Street will remain open to traffic on Shabbat. I want to take this opportunity to explain how a true Jewish leadership should deal with theissue of Shabbat observance in the public and private sectors, in the present situation we are in today where so many Jews in the Jewish State do not observe Shabbat.

Without a doubt, Shabbat is one of the essential mitzvot that can offer Jewish character to the Jewish State. Not for nothing has Shabbat been the focal point of the struggle all these years between religious Jews and the haters of Judaism. This is because the observance or desecration of Shabbatis something clear-cut that cannot be blurred over. For this reason, thereis no doubt that a true Jewish leadership which would uproot all theanti-Jewish power bases in the media and court system, would also see it asan obligation to give the State of Israel Jewish character by way of Shabbatobservance in the public sphere. To be specific, concerning the seriousproblem of transportation on the Shabbat, there is no doubt that not onlywould the streets in the religious neighborhoods be closed, but it would beforbidden to travel on Shabbat in the entire country, excluding instances of”pekuach nefesh”. Judaism does not belong to one particular sector of thepopulation, and religious Jews should not be worrying only about theirpersonal “Oneg Shabbat” or the spiritual well-being of their children only.G-d forbid! We Jews are all guarantors for one another. Such blatant and massive “Hillul Shabbat” in the Jewish State is a “Hillul Hashem”!

All this is concerning the public sector. Concerning the private sector and what happens inside a person’s home, there is no power at this stage for a Jewish government to get involved. In truth, according to the halacha, there is a responsibility on the Jewish government to punish the transgressor,even if his sin is between him and himself. This is certainly one of the major functions of a Jewish government. The Sefer Chinuch explains the mitzvah “Judges and policemen shall be in all your gates”: “One must appoint judges and police to force him to do mitzvot and Torah, and to return the strays back on the path of truth against their will, and they will comman dthem to do the proper things, and prevent detestable things…” The Chinuch continues: “We must enforce our religion through fear of the masses of our police and army; and by getting them used to going on the proper path out offear, they will learn to make it part of their nature to do what is righteous…”

My father and teacher who thought long and hard on this subject and tried to take hold of the reigns of leadership of this country (a process he started and which we, with G-d’s help, will complete), knew that it was an absoluteobligation to give Jewish character to the public sphere of the country. He knew that a solution had to be given to a public that is at it’s lowest spiritual level, and sees Shabbat as a day for having fun and desecration. This is why he put in his platform a five day work week, where there would be Sunday off as well. This would give the public a chance to “party” on Sunday, but would also give it a true day of rest on Shabbat, and in such a fashion, the people would learn what Shabbat is all about and would be brought closer to Judaism by revealing the true aura of Shabbat.

Friends, it is forbidden to be afraid of the haters of Judaism. For sure, such a program will have them jumping out of their skin. Bur they are such asmall minority. And so I return to the Supreme Court decision on Bar Ilan Street. We have a cultural war going on here. With a government which is supposed to be more nationalistic and Jewish, but is really weak, helpless and hopeless, the hellenists mustered up the courage and gall to raise above all the banner of democracy and hellenism, thus deciding that they are wiser than the public at large, which identifies with Jewish values. Afterwards, they speak of religious coercion, when the truth is that they impose hellenist coercion on the Nation of G-d. We must not remain quiet.

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