Religion Magazine

is Friday Night Shabbos Or Not?

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
A strange court decision just determined that Friday night is not Shabbos - only Saturday day is.
Traffic Court in Jerusalem heard a petition from someone who had received a ticket for driving on Friday night in an area in which it is prohibited to drive on Shabbos - in Batei Machse in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The driver drove onto the street despite a sign warning the public that driving there on Shabbat and Chagim is prohibited. The driver petitioned the court to have his fine canceled claiming that the description "shabbat and chag" is not clear enough and he thought that it is only prohibited form driving there during the daytime hours of these days, not at night. The obligation to adhere to road signage must require the signs to be clear and understandable.
The court actually accepted the argument and canceled the fine. The judge explained that it is not unreasonable to misunderstand the sign, especially when needing to make a split-second decision while driving and seeing the sign.
source: Kipa
I guess in the secular parlance, "Shabbat" is a day of the week - Saturday - not a halachic time from sundown on Friday afternoon/evening. That being the case, it is not unreasonable, as the judge said, that someone would misunderstand the sign in that split second and assume Shabbat means Saturday and not Friday night.
That being said, this fellow would not be allowed to drive there on Saturday night, after sundown, because in his mind the entire Saturday is prohibited from driving on that road. He found a great argument, but using it means he expects to be allowed to drive there Friday night and Saturday night, which goes against his argument.
Anyways, the result is that the court decision tells us that Friday night is understandably not part of Shabbat.
And, based on this court decision, will the police be rewording any such relevant signs? If they do not, make sure to appeal any tickets when relevant. If they do, I wonder how they will reword it to make it clearer and not just more complicated for drivers with too many words to see in the moment of driving by - no driving on Friday night from sundown until Saturday night 35 minutes after sundown.....
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