Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai stirred up a storm when he announced he would seek a law to circumvent a Supreme Court law forbidding stores from opening in Shabbat. You would think that the storm he started would rise across the given lines of religious vs. non-religious Jews. Surprisingly many of those opposed to opening the stores on Shabbat are not at all religious and are very clearly outspoken about it.
Here are 5 reasons they have for why someone non-religious should want the Tel Aviv stores to be closed on Shabbat:
1. Shabbat is an ancient cultural asset which the entire modern world adapted from Judaism. Pliny the Elder visited Israel from Rome 2,000 years ago and wrote about 3 unique things he found in Israel during his visit: A sea people can’t sink in-the Dead Sea, a temple without statues and a day of the week when people don’t work. Today the other leading world religions adapted a rest day for themselves so should we as the source of it all abandon or day of rest?
2. Shabbat is a major factor in strengthening the family unit. Generally speaking it’s the only time to cut loose from life’s rat race and spend quality time with your spouse and build your intimate relationship which can wear out from the overwhelming weekday routine. Many marriage counselors instruct those seeking their counsel to spend time together once a week without friends and computer screens. Isn’t Shabbat ideal for this?
3. Shabbat is the ideal day to maintain contact with the younger generation. Mom and Dad are busy running to work all week and drop their kids off at school; that’s most of their contact during the week. Gotta make that money! But on Shabbat you get to spend time with the children and can have some of the best quality time possible. Don’t sell good parenting down the river just for some money. When your children spread their wings and leave the nest you’ll regret not spending more time with them.
4. Shabbat is a great equalizer. Shabbat is the only day a powerful CEO is the same as the most basic level worker. It reminds us we were all born equal.
5. Shabbat allows anyone who works some time to mold his personality. It’s downtime to read a book, think about life, listen to a speech and enrich your inner world.
As the chosen nation it is proper for us to know these values and to let the workforce rest for a whole day and through it declare that we recognize man’s elevation above the pursuit of money. Meir Diezengoff, Tel Aviv’s first mayor was of the opinion that what he called ‘the first Jewish city’ should be proud of its unique heritage. When signing Shabbat work prohibitions into law he states his intentions clearly: “This is not only a religious question, rather it’s a public and national question. Every nation has a tradition of outlooks, faiths, beliefs and customs that protect it.”
Of course those who keep Shabbat because G-d said so needn’t look for additional reasons to keep it; it is clearly commanded in the Torah: “Watch over the Shabbat to keep it… so that your servant , maidservant can rest like you, and you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your G-d took you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”