Apr 3, 2008

irony: Secular judge quotes Rashi in court decision

Judge Tamar Tzeven today gave a decision in court allowing businesses to sell Chametz on Pesach. This overturns a basic law of Israel that prohibits the sale or dealings in Chametz in the public market.
Tzeven overturned the indictment of 4 restaurateurs who were charged with selling Chametz on pesach last year.

The decision was based on defining what is considered public and what is private. Tzeven claims that the law prohibiting Chamtez in public is really limited to public places, while the inside of a store or restaurant is a closed, private area, and therefore the law does not apply to it.

She further claimed that the law is purely symbolic in nature. Her proof of that is that the law does not apply to all forms of chametz, but only to chametz that is also symbolic, such as rolls and bread (and a few other items).

Tzeven, in her decision, quoted a Rashi in the Gemara of Shabbos that discusses the concept of Eiruv and defines reshus harabim as being a place that is seen from everywhere, and is pharhesya.

Rashi must be rolling over in his grave to hear that his explanation of reshus harabim is now being used to justify selling chametz on pesach.

Responses to the court decision were quick in coming and various MKs criticized the decision. An appeal is being prepared to cancel her decision.

An interesting outcome of this redefining of a "public place" is that now smoking should be allowed in stores and restaurants, as they are really considered closed, private places according to the court. Only smoking outside in the street would be prohibited. Tzeven's redefining what is considered public is expected to have ramifications on many other such laws, and it is being reviewed now for appeal.

Update: I see Ynet has now written about it...

1 comment:

  1. This is really not so unusual. Israeli courts have often cited gemarahs and midrashim for support. There's even a decision of the patent registrar in which he somehow applies the concept of "hin tzedek" (i.e., that one must maintain a standard set of weights and measures) to deny someone's request for a retroactive extension for a missed filing deadline.

    The fact that the courts are using Rashi to support their decision when it comes to a law which is basically being used to enforce halacha is understandable. (If people want to use Israeli law to force religious practices on others, then they should make sure that the laws can stand up to the scrutiny of the corpus of halachik literature.)


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