Compromise - Or not!

Basically, an Israeli MK (Member of the Knesset) is proposing a law to change the way Israeli weekends work.

Currently, almost nothing can legally be open on Shabbat (I think the law is that you can’t be open on Shabbat if you have Jews working for you, but I’m not sure). Shabbat starts Friday evening and ends Saturday evening.

This means there is a 1.5-day weekend; half of Friday and Saturday.

The bill would specifically not forbid certain things on Shabbat, such as public transit. In turn, it would specifically forbid certain things, such as industry.

This is what I think people call a “compromise”, back where I come from. But the responses of the other MKs are quite telling.

MK Danny Yatom (Labor) said, “I praise the partial openness in the proposal, but I oppose the restrictions on the secular public, that wishes to continue shopping on Shabbat. The religious public should honor the seculars’ freedom of employment and freedom of choice on Shabbat as well.”

“As long as the religious-rabbinical establishment dictates how we should marry, divorce and eat, and what we should eat, all these proposals are insignificant,”

“Any initiative by parties calling themselves religious and turning reform on Shabbat matters should be foiled. It’s a pity that a party that has lost its political way is trying to turn Shabbat, which has preserved the Jews in the Diaspora, into a political agenda,” Yishai said.



The leader of the NRP (National Religious Party) met with a bunch of young Kibbutzniks from Meretz, one of the most secular political groups in Israel.

They seem to be in agreement about the basic concepts, shockingly enough, and willing to compromise. Mind-boggling.

Holy Moses in a basket, doesn’t Israel have bigger problems than to worry about what someone does or does not do on the weekend?

My roommate said he was going to miss Chick-fil-A when he moved back up North. “They don’t have them up there yet?” I asked. No, not in his part of New England.

Other roommate chimes in, “They probably haven’t opened any there because there are no blue laws, so they’d be forced to open on Sundays.”

First roommate and I were dumbstruck.

The absence of blue laws would not, in general, force a restaurant to be open on Sundays.

Yes. That’s why we were speechless. He can be a little dumb sometimes. I’ve edited it to be more clear who was dumbstruck.

Kind of, but the wall has actually been very effective, so not really.

I would say the ongoing confrontation between ultra orthodox and secular Jewish society in Israel goes to the heart of what the nation is worried about. Were it not for a common enemy, they’d be tearing each other apart. As it is, they merely make dealing with Palestine impossible for one another.

The first day I arrived in Jerusalem was a very strange experience. My bus came in from the West Bank on the Arab side of the city on a Saturday afternoon. The Arab side was crowded and hectic: you could hardly walk down the sidewalk for shoppers and hawkers. As I crossed over to the Jewish side, where my hotel was, everything changed. It was like I had walked through an invisible wall.

On the Jewish side everything was deathly quiet: like a ghost town. Everything was closed. Few people were walking around. The only cars on the street seemed to be taxis. After I’d checked into my hotel I went looking for food, any food. I was starving hungry, but there was absolutely nothing. I was faced with a long walk back to the Arab side when I saw a sign for McDonalds. Surely that was open.

And it was! So I enjoyed a kosher McKebab in Jewish Jerusalem on Shabbat.

Seems like the easiest thing to do is not require anyone to work on those days if they hold to those religious restrictions.

No wonder Jerusalem attracts so many religious tourism…

Next time go to eat some humus at the Arab side, I’m not heavily familiar with it, but some of the best humus around Israel is in east Jerusalem.

Obviously, you can’t require someone to work on those days. But it makes someone less competitive in the job market if you don’t and others do, I guess.

There’s a rule in Judaism related to allowing other people to sin on your behalf, or something like that. I’m going to look it up at some point. But that’s the logical basis of the Orthodox opposition to the Shabbat laws being changed; that it would be wrong for them to support it because they would then be implicitly supporting the sinning (breaking Shabbat) of Jews.

Tim, are you sure that the McDonald’s you were eating at was kosher? There are a lot of non-kosher McD’s in Israel, and as far as I know all the kosher ones are closed on Shabbat.

And arctangent, this issue goes down to the heart of domestic politics in Israel; whether Israel is a religious state for Jews or a pluralistic state for Jews.

I’m not 100% sure, but I read up about it afterwards. I think it is claimed to be kosher, but there’s some controversy about it.

Oh? If the prevailing attitude on this board is that pharmacists aren’t allowed to let their religious beliefs interfere with their work, then why should other workers be given the freedom to let their religion interfere with their ability to work? Shouldn’t the answer be “if these people want to work, they should find a job at a business that isn’t open on those days”?

Ok, so I asked around and got some definite answers.

There are two reasons why religious Jews support laws such as the Shabbat laws which are based in not allowing others to sin, according to the Jewish concepts thereof.

1: The concept of shaliach, or “sending”. If you send someone to do something for you, it is as though you did that thing yourself. So if you, a religious Jew, ask a non-religious Jew to turn the light off on Shabbat, you have just broken Shabbat.

2: The concept of “kol yisrael arevim zeh lazeh”, or that all Jews are responsible for eachother. Thus, while if a religious Jew made a comment, not a request in any way, that then caused an action it would not directly violate the concept of shaliach, if it caused another Jew to violate the law it would violate this concept.

Nevertheless, Israel is not a “medinat halacha”, or state governed by religious law, and therefore many Jews believe that many of the laws that deal, for example, with Shabbat should be repealed or changed to reflect a more pluralistic society.

a person can walk into an open drugstore and know there’s a pretty good chance the counter guy will give him medicine despite it being the wrong day of the week since the counter guy’s decision to not work is decided, acted upon, and compensated for before the customer is even there. as opposed to a person walking into a store and asking for their legal, medically necessary prescribed medicine and being told, “too f–king bad, come back the next day/whenever the next guy’s shift starts.”

how do you make a kosher cheeseburger?

Leave off the bacon?

Kosher McDonalds in Israel have neither cheeseburgers nor milkshakes.