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Nov 25, 2010

Protesting Shabbos To Avoid Chelm In Tel Aviv

The City of Tel Aviv has been considering operating a municipal bus line on Friday nights. The goal was to help young adults who spend Friday night at the bars around Tel Aviv, they drink too much and then they drive themselves home in the wee hours of the morning. With the alcohol content in their blood streams way too high to operate heavy machinery in a responsible manner, Friday night is a hot night for accidents resulting in many injuries and even deaths.

City Hall thinks they can help these kids by operating a bus line that will make the rounds in the areas of the bars and pubs, and then take them home. The kids will no longer need to drive, they can go out and have fun, and they and their parents can rest assured that they will eventually get home safe and sound by bus instead of by car.

The ultra-Orthodox factions in the irya were upset that the City would begin operating bus lines on Friday night. Doing so would be a breech in the all holy status quo, and would mean chillul shabbos is being mandated by the city on an official level. Even though it is for the purpose of saving lives.

They already have such bus lines on Thursday nights and Saturday nights, and now want to add Friday night to the schedule as well.

The councilman of the ultra-Orthodox faction who was asked why they protested, when it is really an issue of pikuach nefesh - saving a life, responded making a very good point. Lubert explained that "Pikuach nefesh' (saving of human life) is not on the bus, but on education about the importance of human life. Many hours should be invested in knowing how to drive without drinking, and not in buses… The problem is that young drivers couldn't care less about the law and drink and drive."


It is basically the story of Chelm, where they had many accidents on the bridge, so they built a hospital under the bridge instead of fixing the problem. Lubert is saying that being mechalel shabbos for a bus line for the kids to get home drunk is very nice, but it is like building the hospital under the bridge - the real solution is to enforce the drinking and driving laws, educate the kids to drink responsibly, have a designated driver and the like. 


Creating the bus lines is not justified because that is not the solution to this pikuach nefesh - the solution is dealing with the drinking and driving issue. Heck, they can even take taxis home at their own expense - why does the city need to provide official service..

9 comments:

  1. I am not sure that the bus really qualifies as halachic pikuah nefesh. I don't think it would be permissible to drive someone on Shabbat in order prevent them from driving themself.

    However to say that the money is being spent wrongly on the bus is a false analysis of the situation. You have a choice to solve the problem today and save real lives now or to set up a committee to formulate an education program to deter drunk driving... Which one is going to save more lives?

    I think that the councilman you quoted has decided in advance that he needs to stop the bus and then made up his excuse why, with a totally fallacious, cynical and self-righteous argument. If he succeeds in stopping the bus, then the blood is on his hands. I hope he has a better excuse when he gets to shamayim than the one he gave here.

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  2. I agree wholeheartedly that the government and the parents have the responsibility to teach them values.

    However, I also believe in separation between state and religion and therefore, if the democratic needs are there, there should be buses driving on Shabbat.

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  3. From my understanding, pikuach nefesh is only when there is a clear life at stake right now. Which means that this bus line wouldn't be a matter of pikuach nefesh, since when they start the line, and even when they run it on Shabbos, they are not doing the act of pikuach nefesh. Saving lives perhaps, but not P.N.

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  4. Believe me the kids who get drunk in bars with their friends are not the type to take the bus. They need to show off their driving skills.

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  5. why cant the city employ non-jewish drivers to drive the buses on Friday night thereby creating a safe (and cheap) alternative to driving drunk?

    There are too many people out there that know better - but I bet the passengers of the drunk drivers would take the public transportation if available to them.

    Haifa has public buses on shabbat. I dont hear any uproar about that.

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  6. Lubert makes a good point, but there's a Brisker response to it: we're not being maikel regarding Shabbos, but we're machmir regarding lo ta'amod al dam rei'echa (or any other appropriate mitzvah).

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  7. Regardless of whether or not creating this bus line meets the halachik standards for pikuach nefesh, Why doesn't a city have the right to create a bus schedule that they feel would be beneficial for the citizens. If your version of Shabbat does not allow you to take a bus, then don't take the bus. Why can't I?

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  8. the pikuach nefesh isnt the idiot driver, it's his victims. yes they should educate and enforce. but hiring a goy to drive so that innocents dont get hurt or killed is a noble and responsible thing to do as well

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