Sunday, May 11, 2008

did the Chief Rabbi desecrate the Shabbos?

A Guest Post by Rafi G
(this was initially posted at Life in Israel and then cross posted here)

There have been murmurings for the past 2 weeks about an incident in which Rav Avi Ronski, the Chief Rabbi of the IDF, supposedly desecrated the Shabbos. Rabbi Ronski spent the Seder night, the first night of Pesach, in the town of Yerucham. The next morning there were reports of a terrorist infilltration by the Gaza border, and Ronski got in his car and drove to the location (I think he had a driver and he sat in the back, but different articles are unclear on that) of the incident. Supposedly he was not needed there, and his presence had not been requested, so it was chillul shabbos for no purpose.

HaModia newspaper in Hebrew has brought out the story from being just murmurings making the chillul shabbos claim against Rabbi Ronski. NRG reports that Haredi activists are demanding his resignation, in light of the fact that Ronski has refused to explain why he acted in the way he did.

What happened to being dan l'kaf z'chus? We right away assume he had no purpose, despite the fact that some soldiers present said there was no need for him to be there? Maybe he thought there was? Maybe his presence was requested? Maybe he thought he could provide some sort of support to the wounded? Maybe something else?

Why are the Hamodia, and Haredi activists, assuming that the Chief Rabbi of the Army was mechalel shabbos for no reason? Does he have to report to them on his decisions? If you would see a Haredi fellow driving in his car on Shabbos, you might assume he is rushing his pregnant wife to the hospital, or perhaps he has some other life threatening situation. Why does the Chief Rabbi of the Army deserve less?

Do the Haredi activists think that they run the country and the army and its officers have to report to them and explain their actions?

At the same time, even though Rabbi Ronski is not obligated to report to any of us on his actions, in light of the fact that what he did was made public knowledge and is difficult to understand because we do not know his reasons and we do not have the full picture, perhaps it behooves Rabbi Ronski to explain, to put out a statement, why he did what he did and why his presence was necessary, or why he thought it was.

I have no doubt that the Chief Rabbi of the Army did not desecrate the Shabbos on a whim. I am sure he had a valid explanation. Perhaps to avoid further chillul Hashem (not brought out by him), it might be prudent to respond to the allegations against him and clear things up.

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