Friday, April 18, 2008

Ma Nishtana? Pesach 1960 and 2008

I'd like to share my thoughts in this, the moment before the full moon of Nisan that marks our exodus from Egypt.
In 1960, David Ben-Gurion caused a storm in the Knesset suggesting that only 600 people actually left Egypt in the famous Exodus which we will all celebrate tomorrow night (it's an amazing story).

This year, a controversy has again been caused in the Knesset after Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Zaban ruled that it is permitted to display chametz during Pesach inside business establishments, despite the arguments of the religious establishment that this violates the "Festival of Matzot Law, 5746-1986", better known by the paradoxical name 'the Chametz Law'. She concluded that the interior of a business is not considered a public place according to the legal code, and therefore displaying chametz inside does not violate the law, whose intent is not to offend the sensibilities of observers of Torah and Mitzvot.

And what was the response of the religious establishment?
Shas warned that their party would consider leaving the coalition if the cabinet did not intercede immediately to overturn the ruling. Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger voiced sharp criticism in a Saturday sermon when he linked the decline in motivation for service in the IDF to a decline in the State's Jewish values.
"If the court, with its own hands, crushes a sacred Jewish value like the prohibition of chametz on Pesach, it is crushing the Jewish symbol of freedom and we are to blame for the results," Metzger told the congregation.

And the secular?
Here's one opinionated stance

Why do I share this with you? Whether one is for or against the ruling is interesting, but not of great relevance to me. What is important is the question. And the fact that both in 1960, and again this year, significant time is devoted in the Knesset to these types of questions that only a chag like pesach could raise, is for me one of the best reasons to have a Jewish State. Because not only does it provide me with a forum to answer these questions, but more importantly, it forces me to ask them.

Happy Questioning.