Jan 27, 2019

kiddush on the construction site

A video is going around social media in which construction workers from the Gesher Yehudit project can be seen taking a break from their work on Friday night to make kiddush and eat some dinner. They are in full construction gear and make kiddush while reading the text from a cellphone with the construction site in the background.

The reactions to this clip are varied, from shock to insulting to impressed to demeaning to insulting to insulted, and to all sorts of other reactions. Some feel bad that these people are forced to work and resort to making kiddush like this, while others think they are idiots, or worse, for making kiddush amidst such serious chilul shabbos, while others yet think they are wonderful for trying to keep some tradition despite the circumstances.

Life is complicated. It is not back and white, as many people make it out to be. Israel has a very high percentage of people who are not religious but keep some level of tradition. Many make kiddush on Friday night and have a family dinner, even while watching a football game n television or a movie or using their cellphones. These people were not forced to work on Shabbos against their will. At the same time that they felt it necessary to work, whether for the higher paycheck or for professional advancement or for belief in the task at hand or for whatever reason, they still felt it important to commemorate the day in their traditional manner. Had they been home, they also would have been mechalel shabbos. No religious Jew is being forced to be mechalel shabbos - at least none is evidenced in this video.

As an aside, I find it cute that they pass around the wine for drinking according to age. One might think, ok they did something traditional, but the overall chilul shabbos would show they don't care too much. That might or might not be true, but most, or many, people do what they know, what they grow up with, whether it makes sense or not, even if/when it contradicts other aspects of their lifestyle. I find it somewhat endearing. 

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  1. What a strange time we are in. If these guys feel 'spiritual' enough to make kiddush, dinner, etc., would not the appropriate thing be they all protest that they will not, under any circumstances, 'work' on the holy Shabbat?

  2. Nothing strange at all.

    They are acting out of a sense of belonging and culture, not significantly different than the primary impetus of many of those who hold themselves to be haredi or Yeshivish or Modern Orthodox. Only difference is each culture has different rules and practices.

  3. Shulem - The difference is that 'Shabbat' is not cultural but is probably the most important of all the 'mitzvot' and should not be considered as cultural, especially when they are actually working on the Shabbat. It's nice when secular appreciate the kiddush and all the trimmings and am sure they get credit for that, but it's sort of a slap in the face (so to speak) to H' when they are, at the same time, actually working on the Day of Rest.

    1. Hi.
      I was not saying that Shabbat is cultural and not a mitzvah.

      I was saying that, be they haredi, chassidishe, Modern Orthodox, traditional, etc, the IMPETUS for many (most?) in celebrating Shabbat (and how one does so), etc is cultural.

      (And yes, I know that haredi, chassidishe, Modern Orthodox Jews, etc truly believe their impetus, unlike their non-Orthodox brethren, is the mitzvah, not the their sense of belonging to whatever group they most closely identify with.)

  4. As Rafi says, it's not that strange for many Israelis to live like this. In the army my son makes kiddush for his unit, and then 5 minutes later the soldiers go off and do whatever they want. His kiddush 'marks' the day as special and different, and everyone joins in. That doesn't mean that they all have to be shomer shabbat for the next 25 hours.


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