Religion Magazine

Fighting Against Chilul Shabbos

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
I am not one for telling others to live their lifestyle as I do. I am not one for telling others what they should or should not do. I recognize we live in a largely secular state, and I am happy we are afforded the religious freedoms to live our lives as we please, and everybody can, for the most part, live each person according to his and her desires.
The Eurovision was a big deal. It caused mass chilul shabbos, even though the performance itself was not on Shabbos. It upset many. But only sort of. Only superficially. I am pretty sure even the Haredi community who wants the public face of Israel to be "more Jewish" in nature with no public officially sanctioned Shabbos-desecration are really ok with it and just feel the need to make an official protest. to be yotzei zein, as they say.
This past week it seemed as if the rabbonim and askanim suddenly woke up and discovered the Eurovision had fallen upon Israel. At the last minute the rabbonim are declaring their shock and anger, as if this has not been a year in the planning, with Haredi representatives in powerful positions in the government and part of the decision-making process. Suddenly, at the last minute we have to have a mass tefila rally, we have to add time to our shabbos observance, we have to threaten the government, postpone coalition negotiations, etc.
For a year it was worked on. It was going to be in Jerusalem, as it had been two times previously without any trouble, but Israel decided Tel Aviv would be a better venue and would "hurt" the Haredim less out there. And UTJ and Shas were part of that decision-making process. Eurovision, and its schedule, was not a surprise to anybody in Israel. For weeks just a few months ago the biggest point of discussion was what Shalva would do about competing and the rehearsals that had to be on Shabbos with no exception. Nobody can say they were surprised at the last minute by the schedule of Eurovision. Instead of planning a proper response, at the last minute they came up with a few ideas of protest, and barely had time to promote these ideas to the public, so it would look like the religious don't approve.
Now it turns out, that the religious representatives in Tel Aviv, and specifically the Gur chassid rep (with Gur often leading the Shabbos fights around the country) were perfectly fine with staying in the local municipal coalition despite the chilul shabbos, while doing nothing of note to minimize or stop it.
Just today the mayor of Ramat Gan announced he is going to start public transportation on Shabbos. The Shas rep who is Deputy Mayor has refused to comment, has not resigned, and seems to prefer the national reps make noise about it while actually not doing anything at the local level.
I am in favor of recognizing that we are living in a secular state and the secular state has its way of life and the residents want what they want. I have no interest in forcing them to live a Shabbos-observance lifestyle - I prefer they come to that lifestyle on their own. Forcing Shabbos observance on people does nothing to bring them closer to religion and.or Torah and mitzvos. Until they do, it is not my place to force them to do what I want.
So, better to not turn these things into big fights. Especially when there is already some sort of quiet understanding and agreement about it. If you are going to fight about it, there is no reason to just fight so you can say you fought, but be real about it. And if you aren't going to be real about and fight for real with all the repercussions, don't bother.
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