Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Selling Chametz on pesach in Israel

There has been an unenforced law on the books for a long time that permits the public selling of Chametz in Israel. Last week a judge reinterpretated the law that it doesn't apply to stores rather it only applies to open markets. In other words, stores, restaurants, etc. are now free to sell chametz this Pesach.

The charedi and religious parties jumped on this and are trying to change the law so that it prohibits the sale of Chametz period.

IMHO, this is a big mistake. Religious coercion does not work in Israel. It just makes things worse. The real chiloni who wants his bread will get it even if he needs to break the law. The traditional person who doesn't eat chametz on pesach will still not eat chametz on pesach. So what is the point? This law will not make a single person not eat chametz. Religious even Charedi Jews manage to walk around Boro Park where all the stores are selling Chametz on Pesach and survive. All these kinds of laws do is make the chiloni population anti-religious. This is populism at it's worst.


Beisrunner said...

Normally I believe your logic is correct, but in the chametz case, it's interesting that secular politicians like Tzipi Livni have come out in favor of a ban.

The Torah includes many examples of religious coercion, most of which are not practiced in modern times. What's the difference between then and now? Then, people fundamentally accepted the Torah and the justice of their punishment, even if they weren't happy about it. Nowadays they would see punishment as the arbitrary action of individuals.

In the chametz case, it may well be that Israeli society as a whole still thinks that a chametz prohibition is necessary (albeit for cultural not religious reasons). If so, we would be irresponsible not to go along with such a ban. The issur of eating chametz is very serious, after all.

Beisrunner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bluke said...

The difference between then and now is very simple. The basic society has become non-religious and the religious are in the minority. The Chazon Ish over 60 years ago wrote that the halacha of מורידין ולא מעלין doesn't apply today. As I stated I don't believe that a Chametz law will stop a single person from eating Chametz. Those that want to eat Chametz will eat Chametz no matter what the law says.

Beisrunner said...

I was trying to say that on this particular issue, most people can still be considered "religious".

So perhaps, nothing should change in our response to this particular issue.

Anonymous said...

I partially disagree with you bluke.
While it is true that in today day and age person who wants to eat bread will be able to. And it is also true that person who does not want to eat -will not eat. But what about the large segment of people who would not bother getting bread if it is little difficult to get it. I think this segment of people will just eat matza because it is easily available. Similar to pork in israel (As far as i know )- while it is POSSIBLE to get it, nevertheless most people just buy whatever meat is around.
Now on the issue whether or not it is SMART to ban bread - i do not know- may be you are right about relegious coercion making things worse.
Also keep in mind that strictly speaking according to halakha we might have to do it - kind of like hashmonoim who forcefully circumsized all helenized jews who were not.
But on other hand it may be one of those halakhot that depend on reason- meaning if today it doesn't make sense to force others then we won't.

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Berel said...

Although I don't feel we should try to force chilonim to keep Mitzvos (as doing so would be counterproductive)in this particular casee where the status quo is being overturned we must protest.

Commenter Abbi said...

I think this is more an issue of cultural coercion rather than religious.

Now that the chametz ban is overturned, then the ban on open cafes/ TV broadcasts on Yom Hashoa/Yom Hazikaron should also be overturned. Why deprive the rights of pple who aren't into observing these days the right to drink coffee and watch TV? (The latter is a real infringement on private rights- it's one thing not to be able to find bread in stores- it's another to have someone enter your own house and prevent you from baking your own bread!)