The judicial system has once again permitted massive Shabbos
desecration, this time in the kibbutzim. "Since it is
impossible to define the religion of a cooperative
organization, it is impossible to determine its day of rest.
Therefore the kibbutzim are permitted to desecrate the
Shabbos," according to the judge.
Last year, Attorney General, Eliakim Rubinstein published an
opinion forbidding the kibbutzim to open their shopping
centers on Shabbosim. Nonetheless, Justice of Jerusalemıs
regional Labor Court, Adi Tivon, issued a decision last week
contradicting Rubinstein's opinion, and determining that the
social and labor law requiring businesses to observe a day of
rest does not forbid opening kibbutz stores on Shabbos.
The judge issued his decision after a number of kibbutzim and
cooperative organizations were fined for opening their stores
on Shabbos. Judge Tivon also added that the law does not
forbid kibbutz members to work in the kibbutz stores on
Shabbos. As a result of this decision, he determined that
those who have in the past been accused of breaking the law
may now be acquitted.
In his opinion based upon the wording of the Work and Rest
Law, Attorney General Rubinstein states: "During the rest
days determined by the law, the owner of a workshop may not
work in his workshop nor the owner of an industrial
enterprise in his plant, nor may a storekeeper trade in his
store. On the above mentioned days of rest, a member of a
cooperative federation may not work in a workshop nor an
industrial enterprise in one of the concerns of the
According to Rubinstein's interpretation, the principle of
"all are equal under the law," mandates that a private store
and the store of a cooperative -- in this case, the kibbutzim
stores -- are equal in the eyes of the law, and as a result
the law pertaining to the kibbutzim should be the same as
that pertaining to a private person.
This opinion last year drew a wave of reactions. In its wake,
Labor and Welfare Ministry inspectors began to issue hundreds
of fines every Shabbos, a fact which led to the issuing of
numerous subpoenas to the Labor courts. Attorney General
Rubinstein rejected these requests at the outset, while the
kibbutzim established a special fund to help those against
whom charges had been pressed.
The merchant organizations of the country are prominent among
the non-religious elements supporting the Attorney General's
decision. They claim that the 60,000 merchants represented by
their organizations keep the law, and do not open their
businesses on Shabbos. "The Work Law not only assures the
benefit of the worker to enjoy 36 consecutive hours of rest
on Shabbos, but also the rights of the merchants for a weekly
rest on Shabbos. It is interesting that it is precisely the
socialist from the kibbutz who breaks this social law," they
They claim that the illegal Shabbos opening of businesses on
kibbutzim constitutes unfair competition. The heads of the
organization write that they turned to Labor Minister Yishai
six months ago requesting that the maximum fine for one who
operates a business on Shabbos be raised to NIS 70,000, and
that the State's income from these fines be used to increase
the amount of inspectors who enforce the law. They also
demanded that the Labor Ministry enforce the law for Moslems
and Christians who open their businesses seven days a week
throughout East Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and Acco.
The precedent-setting judicial ruling about kibbutz shops by
the regional employment court Justice Adi Tivon, drew a wave
of reactions. Chareidi observers said that there is a strong
suspicion that Judge Tivon has merely decided according to
his personal world view with legal trimmings.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he is startled by the
content of the judge's decision, "which makes it sound as if
the kibbutzim live in a different country and do not belong
to the Jewish Nation. I am certain that a decision which
determines that it is impossible to define the religion of
the members of the kibbutzim will arouse opposition. My
policy and that of my Government is to preserve the status
quo, for the sake of the entire society."
Chairman of the Finance Committee, MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz,
called upon the Minister of Justice to fire judge Tivon and
to the Attorney General to appeal the decision. "The judge
determined that the members of the kibbutzim, who reside on
State lands, are not Jews. If they are not Jews, by what
right did they receive these lands? The judge is making a
laughingstock of the law in order to justify his anti-
religious crazes. Such a judge cannot continue to sit on the
seat of justice."
Deputy Minister, Rabbi Meir Porush said that "the decision
constitutes a black stain on the forehead of the kibbutz
movement, and undermines its right to settle the lands of the
State. The members of the kibbutzim must themselves decry
this decision. Such a decision is dangerous, and without a
doubt is destined to be canceled. I hope that in the higher
echelons of justice, where the Attorney General will surely
appeal this law, this decision will be annulled."
MK Rabbi Avrohom Laizerson said that he demands that the
Attorney General instruct the immediate repeal of this
distorted decision, as it is liable to wreak total havoc on
Shabbos observance in the country. "Shabbos is the crown of
Creation, our most priceless possession and the identity card
of the Jewish Nation since time immemorial. Without it, the
Nation has no raison d'etre. A judge who has no
elementary Jewish feeling and sensitivity to so hallowed a
foundation of our Nation must find his place outside the
system of the Jewish State. I am shocked and appalled that
the court encourages and supports lawbreakers, something
which is totally inconceivable."
Rabbi Laizerson has quickly formulated a legal proposal in
the Knesset to forbid trading on Shabbos even in kibbutz
stores. In this proposal, he requests that the Work and Rest
Law also be imposed on stores in the kibbutzim, in order to
equate such stores to all cooperative stores to all of the
stores throughout the country.
Deputy Minister, Rabbi Shlomo Benizri (Shas) said: "The judge
has actually canceled the decision of the Knesset. The goal
of the judges, is to gain control over the government and eat
away at its laws. They are gaining momentum. We must make it
clear to the judges that they themselves are not above the
MK Benny Eilon (Moledet) called to the kibbutz movement to
take stock of its ways. "How has an ideological-Zionistic
movement become one which waves the banner of the shopping
culture and of Shabbos desecration?"
Transportation Minister Shaul Yahalom of the National
Religious Party demanded that the Attorney General appeal
Tivon's decision regarding the opening of enterprises on
Shabbos, and said that if the appeal isn't accepted, measures
must be taken to change the law. "Whoever claims that this
involves the leisure culture, must recall that for every
person who works on Shabbos, there are three others who have
been forcibly separated from their families and whose Shabbos
rest has been disturbed," Yahalom said.
Labor and Welfare Minster Eli Yishai said that he will appeal
the ruling of the Employment Court, on the claim that its
interpretation of the law is not logical and contradicts the
spirit of the law in a general manner.