Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rav Shlomo Zalman and Peaceful Shabbos Protests

During 1988, many protested against cars that drove through religious neighborhoods in Yerushalalyim on Shabbos. A coalition called ‘Sheves Achim” was formed to try and hammer out a compromise amenable to all parties. The goal of the group was that Jews of all stripes join. Formed of individuals who ran the gamut from completely non-observant to fervently Orthodox across entire political spectrum, it was hoped that if they sat together and sought a solution, they would find one.
When one of the organizers approached a chareidi member of the Knesset to join this forum he said he would consider it. He immediately contacted Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, with the obvious question: “Should I join?”
“Definitely,” declared Rav Shlomo Zalman. “They should not think we are ‘perei adam’ [unbridled and uncivilized.]”
After several sessions, the organizers of the group expressed an interest to incorporate a member of the Reform clergy as a member of the group.
Once again, the charedei member approached Rav Shlomo Zalman. “What should I do? Should I stay? But If I go, what can I say that will not be insulting and make a chilul Hashem?”
“You definitely may not stay,” ruled Rav Shlomo Zalman. “To explain your departure in a peaceable manner you should point out in a pleasant way that while religious Jews can definitely sit with non-religious, they cannot remain with authorities who counterfeit Judaism. This is especially true since there is a big struggle in America between the Orthodox on one hand and the Reform and Conservative on the other. To sit with such a rabbi in a single organization gives his movement credibility and detracts from the efforts of the religious Jews abroad.”

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