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Opinion (excerpts): ‘Buycott’ for Shabbat

Alongside the widespread opening of shopping malls and movie theaters on Shabbat, there is less and less left of our national holy day, in what is supposed to be the only Jewish state in the world. Some 40% of all sales in the major national chain stores are now made on Shabbat, and 95% of cinemas operate on Shabbat too.[…]

There is also the peril that “traditional” Israelis – who are both deeply connected to Jewish tradition while not rigorously observing Orthodox practice, and by all indications, this is the majority public in Israel at the moment – will be forced to work on Shabbat under the weight of market forces.

This already is happening. Whether this is department store clerks that must do shift work on Shabbat or lose their jobs, or engineers who are pressed into building bridges on Shabbat, or truck drivers told to transport turbines on highways on Shabbat – there is de facto anti-Shabbat-observance coercion involved here. This is sad and unacceptable.[…]

[…] calling on Shabbat loyalists to shop (on weekdays, obviously) only in stores that are closed on Shabbat. Shop for Shabbat in stores that respect Shabbat […] – to create momentum for a reaffirmation of Shabbat as a national, cultural value. Call this a form of affirmative action, designed to provide consumer rewards to store owners who voluntarily remain closed on Shabbat.

This is not a consumer boycott of stores that open on Shabbat, but a pro-Shabbat “buycott” for stores that respect Jewish tradition. It is an activist effort to impact on our economy and society through personal choice. It is a declaration of purpose and belief in the religious value of Shabbat observance.

Here is the place to recall the societal and spiritual value of Shabbat.

Only Shabbat protects us from the crushing weight and the noisy mental distractions of the modern world. Only Shabbat’s manifold limitations on the self-exploiting machines of industrialized Western civilization allow for the emergence of an intellectual, spiritual, and family space that is reflective and uplifting.

This is not to say that Shabbat observance in our day and time is primarily utilitarian. Despite what many people think, Shabbat is not mainly about “resting” or “recharging” one’s batteries so that we can return “refreshed” to work on Sunday or Monday. Shabbat is not just a certain type of downtime.

Rather, the Jewish conception of Shabbat is an attempt to teach man the proper balance between creative action (work) and contemplative restraint (passivity); between an obsessive drive to achieve and worthy ego-nullification.

Shabbat is also about “dveikut” or cleaving to G-d, and by extension also to family and to peoplehood. By imitating G-d’s creation of the world over six days and then His “resting” on the seventh day, man can “adhere” or cling to a Divine message.

That message – the centrality of creative drive circumscribed by moral and spiritual restraints – is what has unified us a Jewish civilization and a people, and hopefully will continue to do so in the future.

Full article in Israel Hayom, by David M. Weinberg – vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.