Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Nisan 5768 - April 10, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Attempt to Amend Chometz Law Before Pesach

By Eliezer Rauchberger

MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz is trying to amend the Chometz Law before Pesach in order to bypass an outrageous ruling by Judge Tamar Bar Asher Tzaban of the Jerusalem Municipal Court, who held that selling chometz inside stores and restaurants is permitted as long as it's not sold in public view.

The Chometz Law forbids selling chometz "in public," which the judge interpreted to mean in the street, but not out of sight indoors.

Rabbi Ravitz is now trying to have the words "in public" deleted from the law, but since the Knesset plenum is on its Pesach recess private bills cannot be submitted at this time. Therefore Rabbi Ravitz sent an urgent letter to Knesset Chairwoman Dalia Itzik (Kadima) requesting that the Knesset be specially convened to allow the amendment to be passed through an accelerated legislating process of three readings in a single day.

As part of her convoluted effort to prove that "in public" means outside, Judge Tzaban even had the audacity to quote Rashi, who notes in his holy commentary that "reshus harabbim" is a public place visible from every spot.

Rabbi Ravitz says that the Judge's interpretation of the law is clever but disingenuous and clearly contradicts the intent of the legislation. He called for the legislative branch to amend the law to avoid subjecting it to court interpretation, which has proved once again that it is bent on taking over religious life in Israel.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said, "I would like to appeal the decision, which has no relevant legal foundation. The legislative intention is perfectly clear...Any child can understand the meaning of the words `in public' and this is not in dispute. Would anybody imagine selling inside a store or supermarket is not called something done in public? Judge [Tzaban] has no basic knowledge of reading comprehension, or else she is making a laughingstock of the State of Israel as a state of law."

According to MK Ophir Pines (Labor), "The Chometz Law is a far-reaching law that should have never been passed in the first place. It's a law that came into the world more as a declaratory law than as legislation. It's a law that cannot be enforced and the first time people went to court asking that it be enforced the judge cancelled [the indictments against the businesses that allegedly violated the law], and rightfully so." Pines said he would not hesitate to raise for discussion a proposal to do away with the Chometz Law entirely if Ravitz' request is honored by the Knesset Chairwoman.

Despite speculation that Shas would leave the coalition if the Chometz Law is not amended, this week Minister Ariel Attias revealed that Shas plans to stay. He says the law should be amended in order to preserve the Jewish character of the state, but at the same time he noted, "Shas does not feel it's necessary to get involved in what Israeli citizens eat, and I don't foresee any coalition crisis over the Chometz Law."

MK Rabbi Shmuel Halpert initiated a gathering to discuss the scandalous court ruling. Over 40 MKs from UTJ, Shas, Likud and HaIchud HaLeumi-NRP signed the request to the Knesset Chairwoman to convene the Knesset during the recess. Rabbi Halpert demanded the Knesset convene before Pesach, but the Knesset Chairwoman has yet to set a date.


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