Religion Magazine

Religious People Joining Protest to Encourage Chillul Shabbos

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
This is a topic I was not originally planning to write about, but a discussion I heard on the radio about it bothered me.
I can no longer find the original article, which I saw two or three days ago, but I found the same topic reported on Bechadrei.
Basically, a protest rally was planned by some secular groups in Jerusalem to encourage the opening of Cinema City on Shabbos after the new complex will open in June. A group of religious people wanted to join the protest rally, to encourage the opening of the cinema on shabbos, but did not want to do so on Shabbos itself. they requested the protest be moved to a later time in the day, and the secular groups agreed, in order to allow them to participate after Shabbos.
I am against chillul shabbos, but I am also against forcing other people to do what I want. God gave us all free choice, and I am not in the business of taking that away. I do not tell people to keep Shabbos or not. I hope people would choose to keep Shabbos, but plenty of people choose not to. I do not involve myself in promoting chillul shabbos for them, but I also do not position myself to refuse them their opportunities, thus forcing them to keep Shabbos.
Religious people joining protest to encourage chillul shabbos
I personally would not join such a protest rally, nor would I have even mentioned it here.
However, this morning I heard a discussion on the radio about this issue. It was on Kol b'Rama - a  haredi radio station. The show host was talking to one of the religious people who are involved in joining the rally to support chillul shabbos. This fellow, Elad, was not the greatest speaker, and he was not really getting his point across. The haredi radio host was attacking him for his position supporting chillul shabbos and was shocked to learn that Elad has semicha and learned in yeshivot.
Elad's point, which he was not getting across well, is that he does not want to force others to keep Shabbos. Personally I do not think that legitimate position requires him to participate in their rallies encouraging chillul shabbos, but that is his business. At some point the haredi radio host got upset and pressed the point that chillul shabbos is the worst and how can you care so much more about "unity of Jerusalem" and "Jerusalem being for everybody" (both things that Elad had said in his responses) than about chillul shabbos.
That bothered me. Where was he regarding Lag b'Omer bonfires and tr aveling to Meron? If chillul shabbos trumps everything else, why did all the chillul shabbos caused by the travelers to Meron, with an extremely high percentage of them being members of the haredi community, not bother him? Chillul shabbos is only a problem when other people support it? The haredi community had absolutely no problem being involved in causing a massive amount of chillul shabbos just a few days ago and it is disingenuous to now use it as a tool against others.
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