Israel Forever

For the week ending 18 June 2005 / 11 Sivan 5765

Sacrificing for Shabbat

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Shabbat observance is so important to the destiny of our people that the Torah, in next weeks portion, devotes a chapter to reporting the first public violation of the sacred day of rest and the subsequent severe punishment.

If this message from the Torah does not suffice to alarm secular Jews in Israel and elsewhere to the danger of ignoring Shabbat, perhaps a shamefaced blush will come to their faces when they read about what some young Orthodox Jews in the U.S. are prepared to sacrifice for Shabbat.

When students of the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, New Jersey won the State Mock Trial Championship and looked forward to the National Competition in Charlotte, North Carolina, they were disappointed to learn that they would not be able to compete. The reason most of the competition would take place on Shabbat.

The students and their principal, Rabbi Yosef Adler, firmly refused to compromise on their Shabbat observance and the National Mock Trial Organization heads just as firmly refused to make any accommodation. It took some strong intervention from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation to finally make them back down and change the schedule for the benefit of the Shabbat observers.

Another example of sacrificing for Shabbat was the refusal of students of the Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit to participate in the States athletic playoff tournament because of games scheduled on Shabbat. The school is suing the Michigan High School Athletic Association for failing to accommodate its students and it will be interesting to see how that case turns out.

Shabbat should not be the concern of only youngsters wishing to compete in state and national competitions. It deserves to be recognized as the best guarantee of Israel forever.

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