[Avodah] carrying an ID card on shabbat

Zev Sero zev at sero.name
Fri Mar 15 08:44:20 PDT 2013

On 15/03/2013 6:19 AM, Chana Luntz wrote:
> the halachic point that a shvus d'shvus b'mkom mitzvah
> would seem to be pretty standard,

It is standard, but the standard condition is that it is impossible to
observe the mitzvah in even the most minimal way without violating the
shvus dishvus.  That's what I'm questioning here.

[Email #2 -micha]

On 15/03/2013 6:19 AM, Chana Luntz wrote:
> I wrote:

>>> 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.

>> Who is the author of this sefer?

>> Rabbi Meshulam Rath (1875-1963).

OK, so hebrewbooks.com hasn't got it.

>>> 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".

>> When and where did he live, and what were the circumstances at the time?
> What were the consequences at the time for defying a "gezeras hamalchus"?

> Born in 1875 in Poland, was a Rav in Romania for a while. Immigrated to
> Israel in 1949. Died in Bnei Brak in 1963.

Since you have the sefer, can you tell me the date and place of the
teshuvah?  My point is that the circumstances in which it was written are
highly relevant.  Much of his professional life would have been spent in
times of war and emergency, and even more of it in times when antisemitism
was taken for granted and "gezeras hamalchus" was a serious matter; ignoring
it was not a viable option, and the idea of openly defying or fighting it
was simply inconceivable.

> Earlier I wrote:

>>> 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.  [...] 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.

> And RZS replied:

>> This is precisely why I think it's important for the Dutch community to
>> resist this, and *not* to find any heterim to comply.  A deliberate campaign
>> to harass and mulct shomrei shabbos comes pretty close to "she'as hashmad".
>> An individual may be able to find a heter for himself, but in doing so he
>> only makes it worse for the community.

> Tricky - because while individuals (including police officers) may well be
> motivated by anti-semitism, the overall law is not

I don't see how that matters.  It's not the overall law that's the problem,
it's the enforcement.  If the enforcement (in your hypothetical) is targeted
at us, then it's close to "she'as hashmad", and since we *can* fight it we
should.  And an individual who compromises his observance in order to comply
with it harms that cause.

> If the Orthodox Jewish community
> fights this, and indeed does get the authorities to back down, which again
> will need to happen publically, the same "heter" will then be available to
> the Muslim communities.

How so?  What religious requirement do they have that would prevent them
from carrying ID on a given day (or ever)?  The Jews wouldn't be campaigning
for the abolition of the ID law (much as that might be desirable on general
civil liberties grounds, the gemeinde is not the DCLU), but for reasonable
accommodation of a genuine religious restraint, such as would be routine in
the USA (and would be legally required in the case of a federal law).

Zev Sero
zev at sero.name

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