Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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25 Sivan 5759 - June 9, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shabbos Struggle in Petach Tikvah

by S. Baruchi

The cry of Shabbos was sounded this past Friday by the moro de'asra of Petach Tikvah, HaRav Boruch Shimon Solomon, who is also the rosh yeshiva of Nachlas Dovid, who, along with other rabbonim of the city, went down to the shopping mall at the city's Yarkonim junction to protest the opening of stores and marketing chains there on Shabbos for commercial purposes.

HaRav Solomon and the other rabbonim went from store to store to try to persuade the owners to close their concerns on Shabbos and to honor the sanctity of the Shabbos in the city. The rabbonim were received very warmly by the employees of these stores, who entreated the rabbonim to take every measure possible to close the stores on Shabbos. "The owners threatened to fire us if we don't agree to work on Shabbos," workers told the rabbonim, noting that most of the workers in the stores are from traditional families which until now have observed Shabbos, and have been coerced to accept the dictates of the store owners who compel them to work on Shabbos for purely financial motives.

Twelve huge stores were recently opened at the Yarkonim junction, seven of which are open on Shabbos and which employ scores of workers. The operating of stores on Shabbos in Petach Tikvah constitutes a terrible breach in the walls of Shabbos, whose outcome may cause an erosion of Shabbos observance throughout the entire country.

The rabbonim distributed a special circular addressed to "those who cherish Shabbos Hamalka." The circular, signed by HaRav Boruch Shimon Solomon, read: "In the past, when Shabbos kodesh descended in all of its glory, the spiritual stature of all Jews would rise far above their weekday stature, and there was no one who did not yearn for the arrival of Shabbos Hamalka as a day of rest and kedusha. To our great dismay, breaches have been made in the walls of the Shabbos, and for mercenary reasons it is being treated like a weekday -- a day of business and entertainment. Shabbos is chas vesholom, being uprooted from am Yisroel, and who knows how far this trend will go."

In this letter, HaRav Solomon further says: "There are storekeepers who responded to our request that they close their stores, and they must be strengthened and encouraged. But there are also storekeepers who are persisting in their mutiny. As Jews who are responsible for the upholding of the Torah, we must do our utmost to prevent this. As a result, we are turning to the public, from the depths of our hearts, and are charging them not to do business with such stores and concerns until those stores discontinue their misdeeds."

In this circular, the moro de'asra lists the stores which are open on Shabbos, including: Tsomet Books, Sport Depot, Zu Haartez, Home Center, Daphne, Hyper-Toy, Office Depot, and Ace Kenei uBnei (Buy and Build).

The following stores, which are closed on Shabbos, are also listed: Hamashbir, Machsanei Ofnah, Machsanei Chashmal, and Superpharm.

HaRav Solomon's appeal was distributed to the large crowd of people who arrived on Friday at the shopping center, and many of them left the area immediately in protest of the Shabbos desecration and the breaches in the walls of the Shabbos.

A number of storekeepers posted signs saying that their stores close on Shabbos and open only after motzei Shabbos. However, when responding to telephone calls, these very same storekeepers say that they are open on Shabbos from ten in the morning.

Gedolei haTorah, rabbonim, and activists involved in safeguarding the Shabbos said that "the chareidi sector of the country must rally around the wall of Shabbos and make efforts to guard it like a fortified wall. The store owners must understand that Torah observant Jewry, en masse, will take sharp and vigorous steps against all of those storekeepers who seek to undermine one of the most important values of Yiddishkeit -- Shabbos kodesh, for whose sake our forebears sacrificed their lives.

The issue is a social as well as a religious issue. The breaches in Shabbos have a tendency to spread, as competitive pressures force other stores to follow the lead of those who remain open at those times. The 5-day work week is considered such a social achievement, and it is undermined when stores do business on Shabbos.

HaRav Solomon told a Yated Ne'eman reporter that he is considering removing the kashrus certificate of the Greenberg chain stores in Petach Tikvah if the administration of that chain does not close its Hyper-Toy store on Shabbos. "It is inconceivable that the owners of the Greenberg chain, who also own the Hyper-Toy chain, will operate in a building, half of which is closed on Shabbos and half of which is open - - half of which keeps Shabbos, and half of which desecrates Shabbos publicly."

Askonim on behalf of Shabbos observance in the city warned that the consequences of this affair are liable to spark Shabbos desecration in the huge Avnet shopping mall, being built near the Beilinson hospital. "Store owners all over the country must know that Torah observant Jewry will take every measure possible in order boycott those who breach the walls of Shabbos. The owners of the mall, the Supersol company, promised that they would not lend a hand to Shabbos desecration in the mall they own. Supersol's management must know that if Shabbos desecration takes place in the mall, then their chain will suffer much damage, and the large chareidi community which shops in the Yad Ezra and Birkas Rochel supermarkets which Supersol owns, will boycott these stores too."

The measures taken by the rabbonim of the city, led by the Chief Rabbi of the city, HaRav Boruch Shimon Solomon, this past Friday, mark the beginning of an uncompromising battle against the breach in the walls of the Shabbos, which is a nothing less than a battle over the image of Shabbos in the city, and the image of Shabbos throughout the entire country.

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