May 14, 2017

no chilul shabbos on Lag bOmer

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, rav of Tzfat, had an interesting perspective on the discussion of the chilul shabbos in the preparations for the Lag bOmer bonfires in Meron.

Rav Eliyahu said that what the police do is not chilul shabbos. Their preparations are necessary to protect the masses of people, and therefore are really a big mitzva. That being the case, the celebrants are not causing chilul shabbos. While it would be better to delay the bonfires so as to avoid causing the police to travel on Shabbos, the actual travel being done is not considered chilul shabbos. If we would consider it a probelem, Rav Eliyahu says, one would not be allowed to go to Mearat Hamachpela on Shabbos, and definitely not on Shabbos Chayei Sara. As well, one would not be allowed to live in places like Bet El, or actually anywhere in Eretz Yisrael.
source: Kipa

That is an interesting perspective.

The debate has been looking at the increased chilul shabbos caused by the bonfires happening after shabbos. The police actions were never in question, as far as I can tell, but the causing of those actions was. According to Rav Eliyahu such considerations are not relevant because nobody would ever be allowed to do anything in Eretz Yisrael on Shabbos or after Shabbos anywhere. The fact that it is a mass event makes no difference. If you are causing chilul shabbos of a few police or soldiers, it is the same as causing the chilul shabbos of thousands of police and soldiers. And it isnt chilul shabbos anyway.

The problem is that the chilul shabbos is happening at a time before the pikuach nefesh happens, not as a result of pikuach nefesh. As well, people are knowingly putting themselves in a situation in which the situation will then become pikuach nefesh - there is discussion in halacha whether one can knowingly create a bdieved situation and then benefit from hetterim of the results.

Regardless of all that, the issue Rav Eliyahu discussed was the chilul shabbos, or not, of the police. He did not find a way to justify the work caused to the bus drivers, the organizers, and all the other people not dealing with pikuach nefesh but working on shabbos to be ready on time and to make sure plans go smoothly..

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  1. This is downright insensitive. Does it occur to him that the police may not *want* to violate Shabbat? Whenever a chardali soldier in the IDF has to do something on Shabbat he doesn't like holy h*** is raised. But it's perfectly OK for police who "aren't religious" for some shtuss minhag?

  2. this is actually a smart part of a bigger question, namely running a state in 2017.

    on shabbat various government employees were called to their offices because of the computer virus going around. is this pikuach nefesh? if it isn't per se, does that mean that the state doesn't deal with this issue on shabbat? do we have to use some justification like "the virus could affect hospitals so we can also backup systems having nothing to with hospitals"?


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