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Mar 16, 2008

comparing the Shefa cherem to the El Al cherem

The Mishpacha newspaper (Hebrew) had a small piece on the Shefa Shuk cherem that was announced. They spoke with Yitzchak Goldknopf, the guy who runs the "Committee for the Sanctity of the Shabbos" and asked him a few questions.

Mishpacha asked what is different about this situation than other places that are open on Shabbos that have not been banned. First of all, Goldknopf said, "This is not just a conventional chillul shabbos, but a complete uprooting of shabbos from its essence. The motto of this chain that is mechalel shabbos is that people no longer need to go traveling out to the mall to buy on shabbos, but now they can do so in their own neighborhoods. ..."

Mishpacha asked if it so serious, why did they only ban (for now) having business dealings with Shefa Shuk, but they did not ban people from going shopping in the stores (yet)? Why is this different than the cherem that was put on El Al a year ago?

Goldknopf answered, "Also in the El Al situation the gedolim never prohibited consumers from travelling on El Al. They just declared that there could be negative ramifications from travelling on El Al. This is exactly the same - we hinted to the public and we hope they will get the message."

Mishpacha asked, "And if they continue to be mechalel shabbos?

Goldknopf responded, "From the start,w e have had no desire to boycott anybody, but we do whatever the gedolim instruct of us. What is definite is that those who guard the shabbos, will not lose out because of it."

There was a little bit more in the blurb, but these are the most interesting points.

I particularly found striking that he now says the gedolim never prohibited travelling on El Al during that crisis. We all remember the rash of cancellations of tickets. People were encouraged to lose all that money cancelling tickets and changing flights and it was never even declared assur?

I did a search to look for the original kol koreh declaring the cherem on El Al and could not find it. The best I could find was my series of posts on the topic and the post with the saying El Al has agreed to not be mechalel shabbos and that it will soon be possible to say the breach of trust between El Al and the haredi public has been repaired. Also, I found this post from Yeshiva World where it seems from the article pretty clear that the kol koreh was actually prohibiting travel.

I will continue to try to find the original kol koreh to see what they actually signed on and whether they prohibited travel or just warned El Al in it.

If they prohibited travel, why did they not (yet) prohibit shopping in Shefa, and if they did not prohibit travel, why did they pressure so many people then to lose so much money?


  1. In truth El Al today is in the same position as Shefa Shuk. Shefa Shuk is owned by a company that also runs AM PM which are open on Shabbos. Well guess what, El Al has a subsidiary Sun Dor that flies on Shabbos. If you can't shop in Shefa Shuk because of AM PM then you shouldn't fly on El Al because of Sun Dor.

  2. I have to agree with you. The historical revisionsim vis a vis the El Al boycott is amazing. It wasn't so long ago and everyone know people who cancelled tickets and lost money.

  3. what the heck is the difference between a "business dealing" and shopping there? Does this mean that while people may shop there but there won't be any produce on the shleves?

  4. anonymous - I guess Haredi suppliers would avoid stocking the shelves... also I saw somewhere, but cannot find it right now, that organizations that give out "tavim" - gift coupons - for the holidays to their employees, have been pressured to not buy from Shefa this for now. Supposedly, three companies that buy millions of shekels worth of tavim (must be very big companies) have committed to not buying from shefa this year unless this is resolved in time.


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