YERUSHALAYIM - Shabbos observance in Israel suffered a damaging blow Wednesday as the High Court upheld a Tel Aviv municipal bylaw permitting 165 grocery stores in the city to be open on Shabbos.
The response from chareidi MKs was immediate and unequivocal.
Health Minister UTJ MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman declared that the Court’s ruling is a serious blow to the religious status quo and the Jewish character of the state, the latest in a series of blatant interventions in religious values and halachah.
“The Court leaves the Knesset no choice but to pass legislation to circumvent it,” he said.
United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev deplored the decision, saying that “not only does it cause deadly harm to halachah, but also undermines the status quo of Shabbos observance which has obtained in the state of Israel for decades.
“Ten rulings from the High Court will not undo the decision of the Jewish people to keep Shabbos.”
Deputy Minister Rabbi Meir Porush (UTJ) agreed that the judges once again intervened in matters beyond their purview, and that the Knesset must now act to preserve the status quo.
The decision sought to resolve a battle over the local law which has been carried on since its passage three years ago. Two governments and five different interior ministers were unable to bring the issue to resolution.
Judge Esther Hayut wrote that “after the long and drawn-out period of two-and-a-half years in which the various interior ministers and the government have not taken a decision on the matter, it must inevitably be concluded that the government intends to invalidate the bylaw without reason. This unexplained position cannot be maintained and is null and void.”
The city will not be required to wait for approval from Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh, and can notify the businesses immediately.
The stores in question, which comprise about 15 percent of the city’s total, will be distributed throughout nine districts, according to local demographics; neighborhoods with a relatively high level of Shabbos observance will receive fewer permits than the more secular areas.