Who Should Decide Shabbat Electricity?
UTJ demands that the State refrain from generating electricity on Shabbat
So-called “United Torah Judaism” has the power to get Bibi, who is desperate to avoid prison, to agree to extreme demands. They got him to agree to doubling the payments given to people who choose not to work and instead register in kollel/yeshivah, and who raise their children to do the same. This is not only a slap in the face to the rest of the country - even many soldiers don’t receive that much of a “salary” - but also a disaster for the charedi community, which loses the incentive to work for a living.
Meanwhile, they have given a list of further demands to Bibi. Amongst other things, these include:
Increasing the number of gender-segregated beaches;
Subsidizing public transportation for chareidi cities;
Funding institutions (i.e. charedi kollels) to answer halachic questions;
Revoking the law that enabled charedim to transfer their kosher-phone number to a regular phone;
No electricity being generated on Shabbat.
Each of these deserves its own discussion, but in this post, I will focus only on the last one.
I have absolutely no idea whether the State of Israel should be generating electricity on Shabbat or not. I do not know how the halachic issues involved relate to the technological and societal issues.
But there’s one thing that I know with certainty: the charedi MKs are absolutely not qualified to make this demand. Whether they are giving their own opinion, or relaying the supposed directives of the charedi “Gedolim,” they are simply not remotely suitable to be giving directives on this matter.
Traditionally, rabbinic authority used to be held by community rabbis, who had the awareness and experience and sensitivity to deal with community issues. One of the innovations of the charedi reformation was to transfer such authority to Roshei Yeshivah and elderly isolated figures who were not actually qualified to wield it. This same mistake is being made now on a drastically larger scale.
The question of how to balance loyalty to Judaism with the needs of a modern (and mostly secular) state is enormously complicated. To weigh in on this question, let alone give an authoritative demand, requires knowledge of, and sensitivity to, a broad range of factors and considerations. And this is something that charedim, by definition, simply lack.
This is a community that doesn’t even plan its own community, let alone an entire country. They are so stuck in the tiny shtetl mindset that they can’t remotely deal with a rapidly growing population of hundreds of thousands of people. When asked about how the mass-kollel system is supposed to work on large and growing scale, they have no answer - they haven’t even thought about it. They have no regard for the engineering and safety protocols required for events with large numbers of people. They have no interest in leadership responsibility.
And that’s with their own community. When it comes to the country as a whole, they neither know or care about how it can realistically function. Charedi society, by definition, is one that walls itself off from national considerations. It’s just a joke to think that such people, who are so detached from reality and from responsibility and from national consciousness, are in a position to say what the state should do on anything at all.
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They have the same right to negotiate their participation in the government as any other party. Of course, Bibi can turn them down. There can be give and take. This is part of a multi-party system.
The haredim represent a significant sector. They have the right to give input.
If I remember correctly, as each power station is connected to at least one hospital, all electricity production can be defined as pikuach nefesh.