Halacha for Wednesday 11 Tevet 5780 January 8 2020

“You Have Forgotten the Torah of Your G-d, I Too Shall Forget Your Children”

Question: Why are the rabbis in Israel so vehemently opposed to public transportation on Shabbat (in Israel) if Shabbat desecration is rampant there in any event?

Answer: There is much to say on this topic. Besides for the fact that public Shabbat desecration begets more and more Shabbat desecration and subsequently the uprooting of the belief in Shabbat from the heart of the Jewish nation, there are likewise many deeper implications here as well. We shall only quote an excerpt of a speech that Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l delivered in the year 5745 (1985) after on Tuesday, 22 Sivan of that year, a terrible tragedy occurred when a train crashed into a bus carrying children from the Brenner school in Petach Tikvah to a class trip and twenty-three students died, some only days before their Bar Mitzvah.

The media voiced the feelings of many people at the time who took issue and asked why Hashem had done this. Indeed, during the funeral, one of the participants spoke and exclaimed that the children “died due to the wrath of death itself.” At the time, an evening of introspection was held on Jerusalem’s Ezra Street where Maran zt”l was asked to speak. He had been listening intently to the feelings of the general Israeli public at that time and he characteristically shared soothing words of comfort and love as he always would in such situations. However, this did not prevent him from lodging a stern protest and to vocally proclaim the word of Hashem, even when he was met with harsh responses from the non-religious media. However, the readers of the “Halacha Yomit,” who have the belief in Hashem rooted deep in their hearts, will surely appreciate how correct his words then truly were. Maran zt”l said, as follows:

“The Torah states, ‘When a fire is started and spreads to thorns so that the stack of grain is consumed’- The thorns refer to teachers who desecrate Shabbat and are heretics, however, even the stack of grains is consumed! This refers to children who under the age of Mitzvot and pure of sin! Why did Hashem do this? As a result of preventing children from studying Torah!

Woe unto us, for the verse states, “I have smitten your children in vain, they have not taken rebuke.” At the funeral for these children, the Minister of Education got up to eulogize and so did the mayor of Petach Tikvah but all of them avoided the reason for which Hashem brought such a calamity upon us. As the families, friends, and fellow students stood mourning and crying, no one uttered a justification of Hashem’s judgment, only angry exclamations of ‘Why has G-d done this?’!

Nevertheless, ‘The Rock’s actions are perfect, for all of his ways are just. A G-d of faith without dishonesty, He is righteous and straight.’ ‘Until when shall you waver, wayward daughter!’- This refers to the mayor of Petach Tikvah (the mayor in those days) who started the curse of public Shabbat desecration in his city amid much disparagement of the rabbi’s of the city along with thousands of G-d-fearing Jews who came out to protest this mass Shabbat desecration. The mayor sent evil police officers who beat them, arrested them, and hauled them off to court.

Many others have learned from this mayor to treat the holy Shabbat with disdain and crack in the wall that is Shabbat just keeps growing and widening! Even the mayor of Ashkelon who pretends to be religious opened a mixed pool for men and women and instructed city workers to have it open on Shabbat. I wrote him a letter full of pleasant words about why this may not be done and he did not even bother to send back a response! This is someone who calls himself ‘religious’? What shall the non-religious say?!

The boards all over this school are filled with words of blasphemy written by its students, for if the teachers are heretics, how can the children not sin? ‘Did I not tell you not to sin with the lad but you did not listen and behold, his blood is now being sought!’

The Torah states, ‘When a corpse is found on the ground fallen in the field, it is unknown who has smitten him. And your elders and judges shall go out and they shall measure to the cities surrounding the corpse. And it shall be the city closest to the corpse etc.’ When it is unknown which sin causes the death of a certain Jew, we measure the closest city he is in proximity to. ‘And it shall be the city closest to the corpse’- this refers to Petach Tikvah which has become infamous for its Shabbat desecration at the behest of its mayor. And then he comes to eulogize the students whose death he caused?! The insolence! 

Were it only that these victims will have not died in vain and may the parents and everyone else remaining take care to educate their children in religious schools that employ G-d-fearing teachers.

I likewise requested that every school in Israel begin their day with the recitation of the verse of ‘Shema Yisrael.’ Unfortunately, however, this request was also denied by the Minister of Education as he explained to me that he was afraid people would accuse him of imposing ‘religious coercion.’”

Maran zt”l concluded his impassioned speech with a choked-up voice and tears in his eyes: “How is it possible that one-million children in the State of Israel do not recite and do not even know of the verse ‘Shema Yisrael’? Woe unto us that this has happened in our days!”

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5782, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"- The Year 5782

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. Nevertheless, the Sephardic custom is not as string......

Read Halacha


Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

Frying Fish in a Meat Pot, Baking Fish and Meat in the Same Oven, and Maran zt”l’s Custom

There is a well-known prohibition of eating fish and meat together, as discussed by the Gemara and Poskim. Cooking Fish in a Meat Pot Although it is prohibited to cook a dairy dish in a meat pot as we have discussed in a previous Halacha, nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writ......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Friday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Shabbat will mark Tisha Be’av, however, since fast days are prohibited on Shabbat (besides for Yom Kippur), Tisha Be’av will be observed next Motza’ei Shabbat and Sunday. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebrat......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av on Shabbat

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal.  Nevertheless, this year, 5782, since the fast of T......

Read Halacha