Public Transportation on Shabbat and Jewish Values
People tell me that they are going to vote Zehut because they believe in “Live and let live,” and that I am actually a libertarian. I must be honest and clarify that despite the fact that at the bottom line, Zehut is the closest thing that you will find in Israeli politics to “live and let live,” the liberty that we advocate comes from a different place, much more foundational and deep.
Liberty is the foundation on which Judaism exists. Liberty is not the end, but it is the means to the end, which is Judaism. The State of Israel was not built for ‘Live and let live.” It was established to realize an all-encompassing national aspiration. Neither medieval scholar and poet Rabbi Yehudah Halevi nor Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl dreamt of “Live and let live.” (In truth, democracy was also not their dream). Both were motivated by values. Values are what coalesce and motivate a nation.
There always has been and there always will be disagreement over those values. But the absolute answer is not in anyone’s pocket. Rather, it is in the dialectic between all parts of the nation that provides the answer.
Zehut believes that after 3300 years of wondrous history, those values have become part of our DNA. Each of us holds a piece or two of the giant puzzle that we must build here. Therefore, ‘Live and let live.’
It is precisely state intervention, precisely the loss of liberty, precisely the attempt to use the ‘pistol’ called ‘the State’ in order to attempt to create a picture with only those pieces of the puzzle that are in the pockets of those who have managed to grab the gun (coalition majority, Supreme Court) that distance us from the actualization of those values and the national vision for which the State was established.
That is why questions like public transportation or open supermarkets on Shabbat should not be presented to the State. These are topics for which the final decision must come from the community. The Bavli neighborhood in Tel Aviv will have to decide if its supermarket is open on Shabbat. Jerusalem’s Romema neighborhood will have to decide if the Gay Parade is appropriate on its streets. And everyone will have to decide if he/she wants to marry according to Jewish law, or in another manner.
In my personal opinion, public desecration of the Shabbat is detrimental to one of our most basic values. The Shabbat preserved us and eventually brought us home to Israel.
This is not a matter of faith. Instead, it is a matter of understanding that the Shabbat is certainly a part of that foundation of values that built us as a nation. It would be terribly wrong to uproot it. But as long as the ‘pistol’ remains in the middle of the room – we are all busy fighting instead of listening.