MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler, who is chairman of the Knesset Committee for Public Queries, this week fired off a missive to Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin – asking why singing during leil Haseder should be considered an “environmental hazard.”
The question came after a Bnei Brak family contacted MK Rabbi Eichler in the wake of an untoward incident on leil Haseder – in which Environment Ministry officers who were summoned by a neighbor proffered a fine on them for violating strictures against excessive noise past normal hours. According to the complainants – who are also observant – they asked the offending family numerous times to keep the noise level down, but were ignored. According to the family, they tried to explain that the Seder is a once a year event that entails singing and joy – and that this was the custom in households all across Israel and among the Jewish people for many generations.
The complainants alerted the Municipality, which dispatched the noise enforcement officials, who issued a summons to the family. In his message to Elkin, MK Rabbi Eichler asked the minister to cancel the summons and its accompanying fine. “I am certain you did not know about this fine,” the message said. “But as Minister you need to make a point of publicly canceling this summons, in order not to give succor to the ‘Romans’ of our day who sell chametz openly in contravention of the law without penalty, while discouraging the Jews who sit celebrating the Seder in their homes.
“The secular state was not in charge during the days of Rabi Akiva and the chachamim who assembled in Bnei Brak, as the Haggadah tells us,” the message continued. “So we do not read about how the police and Environment Ministry officials came to issue them a fine for excessive noise. Certainly the same should prevail today.”