Following a growing number of acts of chilul Shabbos
in Ashdod where stores and shopping malls have begun to
trample over the sanctity of Shabbos, a moving public prayer
rally led by gedolei Torah, admorim and rabbonim was
held on leil Shabbos Parshas Tazria in the city
A proclamation signed by all of the city's rabbonim and
admorim read, "Following the increase in the incidence
of opening the large retail chains on Shabbos in our city
while nobody objects, there is a danger of more stores
opening on Shabbos. In light of the call by gedolei hador
shlita to buy only from places that do not desecrate
Shabbos and not to lend a hand to stores and sites that
desecrate Shabbos and in order to strengthen this and to
voice our objection over public Shabbos desecration we hereby
call on the residents of the neighborhoods to participate in
a mass prayer rally in the city streets."
The notices posted at all of the botei knesses and
botei medrash in the city's chareidi neighborhoods
called on the public to gather along Rechov R' Yochonon Ben
Zakai in the heart of Rova Zayin.
As Kabolas Shabbos ended an enormous stream of people
from every congregation and background gathered silently in
the heart of city. HaRav Ben Tzion Zeida of Vishnitz led the
main minyan of tefillas Arvis and when they
recited, "Veshomru Bnei Yisroel es haShabbos," the
words echoed far and wide.
The first business to breach the sanctity of Shabbos in
Ashdod was the Ace Knei Uvnei do-it-yourself store, which
also owns Auto Depot which is open on Shabbos. Recently a
major breach was made in the walls of Shabbos when a city
councilman opened a commercial center that is drawing the
major outlet stores, most of which have begun to open their
stores on Shabbos. The list of stores includes Machsanei
Te'ora, Big Sansur, Harmonia, Hapirat Haadom and Wertheimer.
Apparently the municipal board is not enforcing the law.
These breaches led the H&O clothing store, which has dozens
of chareidi club members, to open its doors on Shabbos along
with Home Center, which once signed a pledge before Chief
Rabbi Yosef Sheinin to keep the Ashdod branch closed on
After the tefilloh, several rabbonim stepped forward
to address the crowd briefly. HaRav Sheinin began with the
gemora in Shabbos that reveals that calamity and
destruction are caused by the sin of chilul Shabbos.
"Who knows if we are not accountable, chas
vesholom, for the acts of Shabbos desecration in our
city?" he said. "It could be that we desecrate Shabbos,
chas vesholom, during the week! According to a psak
halochoh of the gedolei Yisroel shlita, purchases
should not be made even during the week from a business that
desecrates Shabbos. This must be made known to the public
using every available means, and all of those who gathered
here for this event which sanctifies Sheim Shomayim
must enlist for this holy battle." He called on the
public to join the efforts of Mishmeres HaShabbos to
encourage stores to close on Shabbos.
HaRav Shlomo Peretz, rosh kollel of Kollel Hadaras Yosef at
Port Ashdod, said Shabbos Kodesh is the source of all
blessing. "All of our sustenance is in the merit of the
blessing of Shabbos. If not for keeping Shabbos how could all
of the business owners merit their livelihood?" he called
HaRav Yosef Direnfeld, a dayan and moreh tzedek
from Belz, called on those present to take advantage of the
unity forged by the event—"Vayakheil Moshe es kol
addas Bnei Yisroel"—which has the power to bring
more bounty to the klal and he called on all of the
city's residents to join together to accept the yoke of the
Kingdom of Heaven by keeping Shabbos.
Speaking for the city's rabbonim the emcee announced that on
Shabbos Metzoro avreichim would address all of the
botei knesses to remind people to refrain from
supporting stores and sites open on Shabbos.
When the addresses ended hearts open wide and circles formed
to dance and sing in honor of Shabbos Kodesh.