[Avodah] carrying an ID card on shabbat

Chana Luntz Chana at kolsassoon.org.uk
Tue Mar 12 06:15:53 PDT 2013

On 10/03/2013 11:33 AM, Kenneth Miller wrote:
>> On a side note, I'll point out that although the SSK does not allow going
out with spare buttons, he does offer a solution to the ID card problem:
>>18:22 - "It is mutar for anyone to go out to a Reshus Harabim during a war
or other emergency with his identification, by transporting it k'l'achar
>>yad, >such as by inserting it into his hat, provided that he is going to a
dvar mitzvah, to tefilah, or to learn Torah."

And RZS replied:

> The chance of being challenged for ID is small, as is the fine for being
caught without it.

I am not so sure you are right here.  I would agree that the chance of being
challenged was small *prior to the court case*.  But now everybody knows
that Orthodox Jews don't carry their ID on Shabbat.  If you are a slightly
anti-semitic police officer (or even just a stickler for law enforcement),
you have just been handed a piece of knowledge that could enable you to have
lot of fun harassing Orthodox Jews - all perfectly legally.  Remember it is
the law that you have to carry such cards, the fine is merely a reflection
of the punishment for the law.  If you know that a group of people are
systematically breaking the law then as a police officer, isn't is your job
to haul them in?  

And in your comment about the smallness of the fine, you are forgetting a
few things.  Firstly, if you don't have your ID on you, the police
officially "don't know who you are" (even if you tell them truthfully).
That means that they are probably legally required to take you down to the
police station to question you.  That is highly likely to involve you being
bundled forcibly into a police van, not to mention being asked to do all
sorts of other things like write your name when you get there.  Even were
you able to avoid doing any issurim d'orisa or d'rabbanan (and you will be
placed in situations where it may be difficult - and where the punishments
may be even more severe if you don't), your chances of making Kiddush and
performing any other of the positive mitzvos of shabbas including tephilla
d'zibbur (although I guess if they take enough Jews every week down to the
police station, you might end up with a minyan there)- not to mention have
any oneg at all, are likely to be slim.

And even if it were true that it is just a fine and you go on your way
(although how can that be, how do they know who to fine if they don't have
your ID? and you are not exactly carrying money either), and for an
individual, once, the money may be small,  as a tax on shabbas that you may
have to pay every week (and the community may end up paying every week for a
significant part of the community), the money will start to add up.  After
all, if I was a purely mercenary minded member of the local authority, I
might rather appreciate having found a way of generating yet more money for
my budget by way of an "Orthodox Jew Tax" - and quite happy to authorise my
police officers to go on a collection mission every shabbas. 

So I suspect that the issue is much more tricky to ignore than you are
suggesting here.

>The heter for a shvus dishvus letzorech mitzvah requires that the mitzvah
is impossible without it.  In a time of war one can easily justify that,
>because going out without ID is not a viable option, so the only
alternative is staying at home and not do the mitzvah; but in today's
Netherlands there >is a viable alternative that allows one both to avoid
carrying and to do the mitzvah: simply ignore the law.

I am not going to deal with the issue in detail regarding a shvus d'shvus
letzorech mitzvah - because I note that there is a teshuva directly on point
from the Kol Mevasser chelek 1 siman 79.  He doesn't mention war or any
emergency, rather the question is about carrying some sort of identity card
(teudat hamishtara) in one's hat purely due to a "gezera hamalchus". And he
rules that even if there is a real reshus harabbim d'orisa he allows based
on shvus d'shvus - since (a) you are carrying it in an abnormal manner
(k'l'acher yad) and (b) it is a melacha sheaino tzricha l'gufa - since you
are only carrying it in order to avoid onesh from the police and hence
permitted.  And furthermore given that most hold that there are very few
reshuyos harabbim d'orisa nowadays, and so we are most likely dealing with a
karmalis, then you have a shvus d'shvus d'shvus and that is certainly
permitted l'tzorech mitzvah.

Zev Sero               A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and



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