MK Mickey (Machlouf) Zohar has recently achieved record publicity for his introduction of the “Shabbos Law,” officially known as the Weekly Day of Rest Law 5776 – 2015. Zohar is a new and highly popular member of the Knesset with a sense of fealty to tradition. In a stormy debate in the Knesset, he declared, “You can accuse me of religious coercion, or call me backwards or messianic, but I will remain committed to my path, with truth and with faith, until our victory, with Hashem’s help. Our victory will be the victory of the entire Jewish people. That victory will lead this people to peace, to tranquility, and to tremendous success, for we are here because of only one Force. Make no mistake about it: We are here only because of Hashem. Even Ben-Gurion said this, and I am saying it as well.”
We, the chareidim in the Knesset, evaded the debate. Sometimes, the best intentions can lead to the worst outcome, and we knew that it might be a mistake to lend Zohar our support. There was no telling where Zohar’s initiative might lead. Indeed, he is now suggesting formulating an agreement regarding public transportation on Shabbos. In short, the plot has thickened.
A cursory investigation reveals that this is not his first “religious” law. In another bill, titled “Proposed Law for the Prevention of Nuisances (Amendment – Festivities of the Night of Mimuna and the Night of Lag Ba’omer, 5776 – 2015), Zohar wrote that the ordinances against creating noise should not be in effect on those days. In the explanatory text accompanying the bill, he added, “Every year, the immigrants to Israel from North Africa, especially the Jews of Morocco, celebrate the holiday of Mimuna… Because this holiday is celebrated on the night following the last day of Pesach and during the period of Daylight Savings Time, it continues until late into the night. On Lag Ba’omer as well, when many bonfires are lit, the festivities continue until late at night. It would be appropriate for these holidays to be added to the list of days when the ordinances and bylaws regarding noise production do not apply, such as Yom Ha’atzmaut, the nights of Purim, and the night of Yom Yerushalayim.” That bill passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset about two months ago, somehow escaping the media radar, and it is now being prepared in a committee for its first reading.
Another proposed law, this one advanced by Mickey Zohar together with a group of other members of the Knesset, would establish Tishah B’Av, the day of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, as a national day of remembrance. “This day will be marked in state institutions and on army bases. The flags at state schools and army camps will fly at half mast.” The explanatory text adds, “The State of Israel is a unique country. It is defined both as a Jewish country and as a democratic state. It cannot be the case that on our national day of mourning for the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, the flags will not fly at half mast. This law is not intended to mandate any sort of ceremonies on the day of Tishah B’Av. Rather, it is meant only to mark the day of remembrance in some way, even if it is only symbolic.”
The bill does not ban eating in public, and it certainly does not include a moratorium on opening restaurants. Zohar’s explanatory text goes on to quote Napoleon’s famous statement, “Only a nation that knows how to weep over its past can survive its difficult future.”
Tzvi Yaakovson – Matzav.com Israel / Photo: Gil Yochanan