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By May 17, 2019 Read More →

Eurovision and Shabbat: Chief Rabbi Lau – Lengthen Observance; Rabbi Brofsky – Educate and Engage!

Chief Rabbi David Lau: (P/C – mfa.gov.il)

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Dovid Lau, called on the Jewish people to refrain from doing work at least ten minutes before candle lighting time, due to the desecration of the Sabbath that will take place this Shabbat as a result of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Rabbi Lau expressed his pain over the desecration of the Sabbath at a lecture he delivered to the Elad community in Modi’in.

“This Shabbat will be a mass desecration of Shabbat,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time but this time it will be before the eyes of the entire world.”

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Rabbi David Brofsky:

Shabbat is undoubtedly one of the central mitzvot of the Torah, and thousands of years ago the prophets bemoaned public Sabbath desecration. Therefore, while it is painful to see any chillul Shabbat, the public desecration of Shabbat at a public, almost national event, such as the Eurovision, is especially troubling.

Over the past two days, some called for midnight prayer vigils; R. David Lau has requested that we lengthen our own observance of Shabbat, on both Friday afternoon and Motsei Shabbat. While these suggestions may seem “nice,” they appear a bit simplistic, self-serving, and without significant cost or benefit.

It may very well be that we must ask forgiveness, as part of the national collective, for large-scale public chillul Shabbat. However, I believe there may be more effective ways to respond. Organizations such as Chabad regularly succeed at engaging other Jews through education. Imagine if the Chief Rabbi and had sponsored an effort to bring Shabbat to the Eurovision participants, or, in response to the Eurovision, launched a Shabbat initiative, similar to Shabbat Across America or the Shabbos Project, meant to share the beauty of Shabbat with larger portions the the Israeli society.

While it is indeed sad to see Israel host an international competition on Shabbat, it may be more upsetting to see another missed opportunity to bring more Torah to the world.

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