Friday, July 10, 2009

Parking Lots on Shabbat

I’ve been meaning to write about the Shabbat Parking Lot affair for some time now, here are a collection of thoughts:

  • It goes without saying that the violent demonstrations in recent weeks have been a terrible Chilul Shabbat and Chilul HaShem and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It is hard to imagine that the organizers of these demonstrations was really concerned about Chilul Shabbat, it seems that it is more of a political power play between the Eida Charadit and other forces in the Charedi community.
  • It was very encouraging to see the Rabbi Harowitz’s stand against these demonstrations, but I couldn’t help wondering where were the public comments from the Charedi leadership in Israel. Why could there not have been a public statement from Rav Elyshiv, Rav Sheinberg, or the Gerer Rebbe condemning the terrible public Chilul Shabbat caused by these demonstrations.
  • It is somewhat encouraging to see that this week there was an organized peaceful demonstration by those opposed to the parking lot including Tehillim and other Tfillot. This is the Torah-true approach to expressing one’s anger over events. I hope that this method of demonstration will replace the terrible destructive events that have taken place on Shabbat (and during the week). (although i fear that this is wishful thinking)

My own feelings about the parking lot (not that they are relevant) is that I think that the mayor did the correct thing by addressing a potentially dangerous situation (cars parked illegally around the Old City) and tried to find a solution which minimized Chilul Shabbat (free parking operated by a non-Jew).

I think that it is important that all Israelis feel a connection to Jerusalem, including those who live outside the city and are not Shomer Shabbat. If these Jews decide to spend their Shabbat in Jerusalem instead of a movie or at the beach, this is a positive thing.

I felt uncomfortable with the original proposal to open the municipal Safra parking lot as this parking lot is very close to Mea Sharim, which would disturb residents of that neighbourhood, and more importantly I think that public institutions (National bus company, airline, government institutions, municipalities etc), should publicy observe Shabbat, this is part of the Jewish character of the country.

The Karta parking lot is a better solution as it is further from the Charedi neighbourhoods, closer to the Old City, and is not part of the Municipality building.


There is one other issue that has bothered me. There was a terrible story of an ABC Reporter who claims that she was spat on when she took out her tape recorder to record he demonstrations on Shabbat.

This is a terrible Chilul HaShem and inexcusable behaviour. There is never a reason to spit at a person or treat her in this manner. Not Ever.

That said, I couldn’t help wondering about what type of training or assistance reporters get when they are posted to Israel. In spite of the fact that she was going to report on the Charedi Shabbat demonstrations, she didn’t have much clue of what she was getting herself into (other than to “dress conservatively”). She didn’t know the area at all and accidentally walked up the wrong street. She didn’t know that a tape recorder would be problematic at a demonstration against Chilul Shabbat, and she didn’t speak a word of Hebrew. Nor did she think that she should find someone to go with her who may have been able to give her a bit of insight into what was going on.

Basically, someone who has no knowledge about a situation felt authorised to report on it to a major news network like ABC. Is this the type of “in-depth” reporting that major news channels provide us with?

Unfortunately, when it comes to events in Israel, most cab-drivers would be far more qualified to report on local events than the hundred of journalists stationed in this country.

Shabbat Shalom


Anonymous said...

The reporter was qualified enough to know what craziness and sickness are. You don't need a crash course in Israel or Haredim to understand that

Michael Sedley said...

Anonymous, you're right that she experienced craziness and sickness which as I said was totally inexcusable. However a reporter's job is to cover news, not create news. If she is covering a story about crazy, sick demonstrators, I would have thought that she would have a professional duty to try to work out what might set them off (in this case tape recorders) and try to avoid it.

If she was reporting the demonstrations against "the fence" and showed up wearing a Kahana Chai T-Shirt, she would have failed in her job as an outsider watching events and would have instead become the focus of the demonstrations (if she lived to tell the tale)

Anonymous said...

What "chillul shabbat" did the protests cause? That the mumrim lechalel shabbos befarhesia every week, did it again? That the goyishe yasamnikim drove to the protest?

Ask a shaila of a poseik if you need to change your course of action because someone who ANYWAY will be mechalel shabbos will continue to do so.

If someone hits your father, you scream. If someone hurts your kid you shout. You dont make cheshbonos. It hurts. Does it hurt you or not?

And you see already how this single parking lot is changing the face of yerushalayim on shabbos, as already there was a store open the whole shabbos. A shanda !

What a wonderful mayor in Yerushalayim!

Michael Sedley said...

So much incoherence in this last comment that it is hard to respond (if i have time, maybe I'll make a follow up posrt).

If you really need to ask a posek whether you can throw stones on Shabbat, the Charedi educational system is in a worse shape than I thought - do you not know how to read a book like Shmerat Shabbat k'hilchata or Mishna Brura?

yoni ross said...


I disagree with Michael. You're not incoherent; you're hysterical to the point that you contradict yourself.

Your first point is that there is no point taking into account the fact that the protests/riots will cause Jews to be mechalel shabbos (I assume you are referring to the police, who have to violate shabbos to keep order), since they are not shomrei shabbos anyway.

Your second point seems to support the protests.

However, in your hysteria, you seem to gloss over the fact that the protests are against chillul shabbos by people who would be mechalel shabbos anyway. You seem to think that chillul shabbos by such people is not only OK, but that people concerned with shabbos shouldn't be bothered by it. Using your analogy, if someone is going to hit your father and you can't stop him, there's nothing wrong with egging him on.

And don't give me any nonsense about chillul shabbos being worse in Yerushalayim - firstly, it's not true, secondly, the fact that the State of Israel calls area adjacent the old city "Yerushalayim" does not instantly confer holy status on them. Chillul shabbos on Rechov Yaffo is no worse that chillul shabbos in Yaffo.

As an aside, regarding the level of shabbos observance of policemen, you have no basis to make such a blanket assumption. My neighbor is shomer shabbos, and works for the police, and regularly has to work on shabbos, and he's not unique, even within his own unit. There could be shomer shabbos Jews in the police who are called up especially to deal with these protests/riots, or "masorati" Jewish policemen who would otherwise keep shabbos if they didn't have to work.

Anonymous said...

how deer could you say that chilel shaboss is politics i remember 40 yersago when ve did the same by closing rechov samuel hanuvi and shivtay israel for smiras shabbos this is the only way