The Zionist Conspiracy

A clandestine undertaking on behalf of Israel, the Jets and the Jews.

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Monday, February 19, 2007
Shabbat And Non-Frum Jews

Recently, Jewboy ripped Uri Orbach for Orbach's recent Ynet article asking his secular friends not to come over on Shabbat.

According to Jewboy, "the attitude exhibited in this piece can be described as arrogant, juvenile, antagonistic, and ignorant ... to demonstrate such hostility to secular Jews in today's day and age is simply unforgivable."

I do not agree with Jewboy, as I told him in the comments to his blog.

I do not think Orbach was expressing any hostility to secular Jews. Indeed, Orbach emphasizes that he has many secular friends. Furthermore, Orbach is known as a religious Zionist Israeli who believes that dati and chiloni Israelis (and those in the middle) have much in common and are all part of one nation. (See this article, for example.)

Orbach requested that his secular friends "stop by on Sunday, Monday, and bring all of your kids with you. But not on Shabbat. It's too complicated."

I think Jewboy and most of the other critics of Orbach's piece are well-meaning, but make the mistake of equating Orbach's request with a rejection of kiruv - Jewish outreach.

I'm all for kiruv. When it comes to kiruv, awkward things happen, such as lights being turned off or a cell phone ringing. But those things result from innocent mistakes; it is pretty clear that the rules are those of the frum hosts, and the non-frum guests understand and accept this.

Orbach is talking about something else - secular friends or family coming over with no intention of "playing by the rules" of shabbos.

Orbach isn't demanding that they observe shabbos in his home and play by his rules. Instead, he's simply suggesting that they visit another day.

Even live-and-let-live observant Jews who accept that their secular friends have no interest in going to shul would be quite discomfited if those friends come into their home and use their phone, their microwave, or their DVD during shabbos. It takes away from their own observance of shabbos - or at least they feel it does.

Kiruv aside, shabbos and the many rules related to its observance can result in tensions when frum and non-frum people get together. What happens when a non-frum relative wants to drive to a bar mitzvah or shabbos bris and is told not to? Why is it that many baal teshuvas find it better to be somewhere other than their parents' home on shabbos?

Often these issues can't be avoided. When it comes to family, perhaps it's worthwhile to try to find common ground. But when it comes to social visits from friends, coming over on Tuesday can solve lots of potential problems.