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Mar 26, 2023

hypocrisy or new beginnings

As I have said many times before, I do not expect people like Yair Laid or Benjamin Netanyahu or Miri Regev or most other politicians to keep Shabbos, to eat only kosher food or to do anything else according to halacha. They are not religious (some are at best "traditional" in some sense or another, but most traditional people have nice sentiment to religion and have faith but they are not strict adherents to most halachot, though keeping kosher is more common than some other halachot and is observed more widely among many traditional people and should maybe be kept off the list above). It is neither a shock nor a surprise when they are not keeping halacha but more in line with their behavior and beliefs. It is more of a surprise when they do keep halacha in some way, and usually, at least publicly, it is because they have to for political considerations.

Activities from this past Shabbos raised some interesting questions.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu was spotted, with his wife Sara Netanyahu, dining with others at a Gordon Ramsey owned, Michelin rated, treif restaurant with alle guten zachen such as lobster and shrimp. A video from the restaurant was leaked to the public. While it is not known what the Netanyahus were eating, and it is possible they only ordered a salad (without sliced onions) or maybe mehadrin kosher tv din

ners, their presence in a completely treif restaurant is circumspect. 

While again, I dont expect Netanyahus to eat only kosher food, I failed to hear the outcry of the Haredi members of his coalition who were quick to denounce Yair Lapid for eating treif in public. As a matter of fact they even have denounced Netanyahu himself on previous occasions in which he was seen in a treif restaurant while serving as Prime Minister.

Now, there is also the additional problem of him going to a restaurant on Shabbos, but being that he almost definitely did not pay for his own meal, as he generally does not, so the chilul shabbos factor might be less important here. That being said, MK Yair Lapid did criticize the Prime Minister for eating treif in a restaurant while his coalition is advancing a bill to prevent people from eating chametz in hospitals on Pesach. I am not sure Lapid's comparison of the two is perfect, but his point was made. I would point something else out - Netanyahu went to a restaurant on Shabbos (treif as it was) yet his coalition refuses to allow kosher restaurants in Israel to open on Shabbos (even if the customers pay in advance, like in a hotel). Hey - maybe that is why he went to a treif restaurant! No kosher restaurant was open, so he just had to eat treif - it was his only option!

Now that we got PM Netanyahu out of the way, let's touch on the other interesting thing that happened on Shabbos.

Reporters have been pointing out regularly on Saturday nights, as they have been for many years, the various work being done on Shabbos - such as work on the rail lines, among others. This Shabbos, in addition to work on the train lines, there was also work done on the light rail line in Ramat Gan, as reported by Channel 14 journalist Kobi Bornshtein. This has been going on for many weeks. Initially Deputy Minister Maklev raised the issue urgently with Minister of Housing Yitzchak Goldknopf (who used to head the lobby against chilul shabbos, or whatever it was called) and with Transportation Minister Miri Regev who is the authority under which much of the chilul shabbos happens. Bornshtein says he asked the various Haredi MKs and government members about this and they did not even bother responding. You can see the various tweets about it in Bornshteins Twitter feed, with specifics of which Haredi MKs/Ministers he reached out to. Let's not forget, UTJ and Shas always made governmental chilul shabbos a massive issue and even brought down governments over it. 

One can only assume that knowing they have no other option of being in an alternate government and advancing their needs they have chosen to make chilul shabbos a lower priority than ever before. If so, perhaps at least UTJ should remove the word "Shabbos" from their party name, which technically is Yahadut Hatorah V'HaShabbat.

But to give them the benefit of the doubt I actually came up with another explanation why they have not said anything about the governmental chilul shabbos happening under their watch (for two months now!).

UTJ, and seemingly Shas (though it was always a much more acute issue for UTJ), have possibly turned over a new leaf. New beginnings. They no longer want to force secular, or at least not religious, members of the government and Knesset, and those under them, to keep halacha. They have moved more into the Live and Let Live camp! Shabbos is still surely important to them, but they know it is between each person and God and not for us religious people to force on everyone else! Same as the lack of comment on the tarfus in public issue - what Netanyahu eats, even in public, is between the Prime Minister and God, and not for us to get involved in.

So either this is terrible hypocrisy or the beginnings of a new approach of live and let live even about Shabbos and treifus to be taken by the Haredi parties (and the Dati parties, but it was never their primary issue in the past either) moving forward....

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  1. Garnel IronheartMarch 26, 2023 5:02 PM

    I think something else has happened. While the Chareidi parties got their start in government under the LIkud in 1977, they have since served in both right and left government. They are whores - if you give them money, they'll give you votes.
    But the situation has changed, first with Liberman making it clear he will never sit in a government with Chareidim and now with this judicial overhaul. There is a split - if an election was held tomorrow and Lapid, with the help of the Chareidi parties, could form a government, it would not happen. No way. He won't sit with them. Liberman won't sit with them. It simply wouldn't happen. So the Chareidi parties know they're now stuck with the Likud - if they don't play nice, they are out of government. That's why they're suddenly learning to hold their tongues.

  2. I have read that the religious parties claim that the workers on these infrastructure projects such as railroads would really prefer to keep Shabbos if they could. So protesting work on Shabbos is not religious coercion, but in the realm of labor law – protecting the rights of workers who want to keep Shabbos. Is there any truth to that?

    1. I am not sure there is any real way to know what they want, other than asking them, and then it depends who asks and how they do the asking. People who have to work on Shabbos are usually paid something like 200% wages. From firsthand knowledge of some people who sometimes have to work on Shabbos, they happily take those shifts because they earn more money. Though theoretically maybe in the grand scheme of things they would love to not have to. Though I am also fairly certain there are some people who prefer not to but are pressured into it with no real option of saying no.

  3. Garnel IronheartMarch 27, 2023 3:54 AM

    Arabs want to keep Shabbos now? Because that's the vast majority of them.
    Ironically, the labour law issue is an old one - the Shabbos laws were put in place by non-religious union-friendly parties to protect workers from having to work 7 days a week.


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