UTJ MKs demanded that Prime Minister Binyanim Netanyahu explain the massive chillul Shabbos desecration caused by stage two of the international bike race, which was held on Shabbos.
On Shabbos, cyclists rode from Haifa to Tel Aviv in the second day of the bike race. The immense logistics of the race meant that thousands of policemen and other government workers were forced to work on Shabbos, lo aleinu.
During Sunday’s coalition meeting, Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman asked why the race enabled “so much unnecessary chillul Shabbos” and pressed the prime minister “to prevent it from happening in the future.”
He noted that aside for trampling on kedushas Shabbos, this was an offense to the shomer Shabbos community across the country. Rabbi Litzman said that the UTJ and Shas parties are working on a plan to deal with this.
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that the government needs “to prevent events such as these on Shabbos and protect its holiness in the public sphere.”
Earlier on Sunday, the CEO of the National Union faction, Ofer Sofer, alleged that the rampant chillul Shabbos caused by the race infringed on the status quo governing religion and state issues.
According to Sofer, the race could have been held on a regular weekday, which would have spared the country from having to deploy thousands of policemen and other personnel on Shabbos.
“If the race was as important as a visit by the president of the United States, it would have been possible to block all the streets in the middle of the week in order for it to take place,” said Sofer. “This behavior is a breach in the fence that will bring Israel to ruin, as it blurs its boundaries and endangers the status quo.”
On Friday, Rabbanim and Shabbos askanim had warned that if there was no change in the schedule of the bike ride, mass chillulei Shabbos were expected.
They noted that the international event was held for the first time in Israel under the auspices of government ministries and local authorities.
It was noted that the Yerushalayim municipality did stop the race in the city well before the onset of Shabbos. The barricades placed for the race were only removed on Motzoei Shabbos.
At his seudah shlishis tisch on Shabbos, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak, Harav Yisroel Hager, shlita, spoke out against the chillul Shabbos caused by the race, claiming that the chareidi Knesset representatives should have used their parliamentary power to exert more pressure to prevent the desecration from happening.
“Although the race was officially conducted by non-Jews, thousands of Jews participated and watched the race. A large budget was allocated for the race, because of the large number of security personnel who, unfortunately, were forced to work on Shabbos because of this. We must express a cry of pain and protest.
“We have to tell those who are called the so-called ‘leaders’ in Israel that on chillul Shabbos we are forbidden to remain silent.
“I believe that if Klal Yisrael are more b’achdus, and we stand united to preserve the Torah and mitzvos, we will succeed more, and the power of our influence will grow for the sake of strengthening Yiddishkeit and fulfilling ratzon Hashem.
“However, the emissaries who stand at the forefront of the battle for shemiras Shabbos need to know and recognize their power, and should know how to use it effectively, despite all the battles that they have to fight, and even though the authorities do not listen. After all, they act according to their interests, and are attentive to our requests only when it’s worth their while.”
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe added that no one in the secular public would have agreed to such a desecration of Independence Day.
“If there are those who desecrate 5 Iyar, they will not remain silent, and they will give fines, but to harm the Shabbos – given to us by the Ribbono shel Olam at Har Sinai – is this permissible? Mass chillul Shabbos was caused by the race, and we must not allow desecration of Shabbos like this!”
The Rebbe concluded with a brachah: “Hashem will certainly help us. In the the zechus of shemiras Shabbos, He will bless us with hashpa’os tovos, that we will merit to receive the Torah with simchah, and that we will be zocheh to the building of the Beis Hamikdash and the geulah sheleimah in our time, amen.”