Religion Magazine

Chilul Shabbos Continues to Increase with Increased Religious Representation

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
While sad and disappointed to see the trend of increased public chilul shabbos, I find it fascinating to follow. Tibrias with its new mayor, Ron Kubi, is already easy to keep track of, as he is loud and outspoken about it and promotes it all on social media and has been interviewed regularly in the news, on probably all the various channels. Besides for Tiberias, there are kiosks opening on Shabbos in Ashdod, while Tel Aviv has been talking about increasing the chilul shabbos for a long time, along with fighting for permits for public transportation,  though I am not aware of them doing so as of yet, though the road works (such as with the Yehudit Bridge) and rail works have very publicly gone Shabbos...
chilul shabbos continues to increase with increased religious representation
I find it fascinating and intriguing that while the religious and Haredi representation in government has gotten increasingly powerful, the level of chilul shabbos has increased as well. While the numbers of Haredi and religious MKs and mayors and city councilpeople across the country have increased (the number of MKs hasnt really increased but representation in city councils has), their power and influence has actually increased tremendously. Yet with all the more power and influence the religious and Haredi communities have in the public sphere, the opposition to them increases and the activities to oppose the religious positions do as well.
It does not take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to figure out that it is, at least in part, a response to the increased religious legislation (and this can also be seen in other religious state issues not relevant to this topic), the people not wanting to be told how to live their lives, how to behave on their day off. Especially fascinating is that survey after survey over the years has shown Israel to be overwhelmingly traditional and not anti-religious yet the public movement to chilul shabbos continues to increase.
I suspect Shabbos, in this case, is a victim in the story and struggle for power in Israel. Israel is not a religious state and people seem to not appreciate being told by religious people what to do. It seems to me that this is another example of the need for a separation between shul and state. Religious legislation in Israel almost never improves society and its approach to religion - it generally increases the animosity to religion. As I have said before, I do not know how separation of shul and state can work in Israel while still calling it a Jewish country, but there seems to be a need for some separation at some level.
Specifically regarding Tiberias, while the mayor is encouraging the chilul shabbos in general and the new bus line in particular, it is all really private. They are not running Egged (or whichever company operates the public lines in Tiberias) buses, but private vehicles at no charge. They are using Arab drivers, according to reports, and the bus stops at pre-determined bus stops at specific time and it is free of charge. It seems to me that this is far less of a problem frםm a Shabbos perspective than having residents who wish to get to the boardwalk to call taxis or drive their private cars. Based on what Shmiras Shabbos Khilchaso says in 30:55, this seems to hardly be a Shabbos problem at all at an individual level, though the public appearance of buses running on Shabbos is still a visual problem for the public sphere in a Jewish state..
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