Jul 21, 2020

Restaurants, Minyanim and Money

There are currently two new big fights going on in the government between the Haredi parties/public and Netanyahu (and his government).

1. One fight is regarding the decision to allow restaurants to open with a maximum of 50 people dining, while at the same time limiting minyanim outdoors to 20 (and indoors to 10). The restaurant situation is actually a fight within the government itself even without the Haredi reps - the government wants to shut it all down, and the Corona Committee wants to allow them to remain open as the government has not shown any significant level of danger by allowing them to remain open (with strict guidelines). Assuming that fight will get resolved by leaving them open, the Haredim are upset that restaurants are left open for 50 diners and minyanim with only 20/10.

The big difference, in my opinion, is that people go to minyan 3 times a day. Aditionally, there is some amount of socializing at minyan. On the way in and out, and honestly sometimes during services as well, people talk to each other, say hello to friends, etc. The restaurant - any given person goes to a restaurant maybe once a month or once every couple of weeks. if someone goes once a week that is considered eating out a lot. Also, there is almost no socializing done at restaurants besides for socializing with the person you went with - your spouse, kids, other half of your business meeting, whatever, but you are not socializing with other people just sitting in the restaurant at their own tables. In the shul everyone is doing an activity together, and in the restaurant everyone is doing their own thing.
2. The second fight is over the "stimulus" money being talked about. Netanyahu announced the plan to give out money to everyone, and parents would get money up to, and including, the 3rd child under 18. At first it became a fight about only giving to those in need and not to everyone, not to the wealthy, not to those still working, not to those earning over a certain income... now the fight is why stop at 3 children and why not give for all children under 18? Stopping at 3 is discrimination against Haredim who have many more children on average. Do those children not deserve the money for food and things?

I agree with this. The plan is to give the money to every single person, whether they need it or not. Every person should get it, except the fourth child in a family? Every person except the fifth or eighth child? Why does child #4 or #8 deserve it any less than anyone else? If you come up with a great plan (and it is fair to debate whether the plan is actually good or not) to hand out money to everyone, give it to everyone.

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  1. There is another big difference between minyanim and restaurants. If someone manages a large restaurant and can only open it for a very limited number of people, they will not be able to run the business at all and many people will be out of a job - i.e., for that person and his staff the difference between 20 and 50 is the difference between having a job and being out of work.
    However, even given that Tfila B'Tzibur is an essential service, there is only a small difference between a minyan of 20 and a minyan of 50. And believe me I know how inconvenient a minyan of 20 is, since that became the rule I needed to reopen a minyan in my building, and not only need to find a Baal Koreh, Sefer Torah and shaded place to have the minyan, I need to spend the entire Tfilla keeping tabs on how many people are there and whether I have to ask people to move to an adjacent area.

  2. Everything else aside, I think sometimes we of the Religious (Anglo) community underestimate just how often certain sectors of the population go to restaurants (including falafel and shwarma spots, not to mention pubs with meals). In Bohemian Tel Aviv, it is basically daily, and I suspect many people do indeed go out to socialize and eat on a nightly basis, making the restaurants much more analogous to shuls in our neighborhoods.


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