MK Rabbi Gafni: All We Want Is Preservation of the Status Quo

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UTJ to Seek Legislative Solution to Prevent Railway Work on Shabbos
United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni. (David Cohen/Flash90)

“Chareidi laws,” such as those requiring the closure of grocery stores on Shabbos, are the reaction of chareidi legislators to efforts by the left and the High Court to whittle away at Jewish life in the public sector, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said Tuesday. “The court has changed the status quo. If they had left things alone, we would not be demanding anything. Laws like the one requiring closure of groceries in cities are our response to the intervention of the court.”

MK Rabbi Gafni was speaking at event sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, in which he protested the media attacks on the chareidi community – with the latest assault resulting in the forced cancellation of a concert by the Rabbi Elimelech Firer’s Ezra Lamarpeh organization, which provides medical advice and assistance in finding appropriate care, for free.

The concert was canceled after a media uproar over the fact that no female artists were included. “The media is always working against the chareidim, it is always stressing that the chareidim do negative things. The fact that Rabbi Elimelech Firer had to cancel his fundraising event for Ezra Lamarpeh should shame Israelis. This is a red line, and we all need to rethink things.” Chareidi MKs such as himself “are not looking to change the nature of the state,” MK Rabbi Gafni said. “All we want is to restore and preserve what was.”

Regarding the question of what the fate of government formation negotiations will be, MK Rabbi Gafni said that “if I agreed to join a left-wing government they would give me whatever I wanted, and the left keeps its promises. But I work on behalf of the religious and traditional public, most of whom are right-wing.”

Speaking at the same event earlier, Blue and White head Benny Gantz said that his party wanted to change the status quo even further, by allowing towns to run public transportation on Shabbos. “I do not intend for buses to run in Bnei Brak on Shabbos, but I have no problem if Ramat Gan would do that,” he said.

In response, MK Rabbi Gafni said – tongue in cheek – that “we are really and truly grateful that he does not want buses to run in Bnei Brak on Shabbos.” However, running them in Ramat Gan would also violate the traditional balance between religion and state that he is committed to preserving.