Last bus before Shabbat? 'Don't get on!'

Elad rabbi warns residents not to travel on Friday afternoon without absolute certainty of reaching their destination before Shabbat.

Tags: Shabbat Buses
Michal Levi ,

Egged bus (illustrative)
Egged bus (illustrative)
צילום: פלאש 90

Following many incidents of passengers on public transportation arriving at their destinations after the onset of the Sabbath, Rabbi Meir Kessler, the rabbi of the city of Elad, published a letter to city residents requesting that they refrain from traveling to other cities right before the Sabbath.

"We have come to awaken the dear public regarding traveling outside the city on the eve of the holy Shabbat," Rabbi Kessler wrote in the letter, which was published on the Israeli haredi news website JDN. "Unfortunately, we hear almost every week here and in other cities about problems and delays on the way, which pose a risk of desecrating the Sabbath. How can we face ourselves - if we who are fearful of [fulfilling] G-d's word - are not careful enough in observing the holy Sabbath."

"In addition to the seriousness of desecrating the Sabbath, there is also an aspect of desecrating the name of G-d in public, and especially at a time like this when the Sabbath is being desecrated so publicly, it's obligatory to distance ourselves completely from any suspicion of desecrating the Sabbath."

"We are hereby warning that one shouldn't leave [on Friday afternoon] without absolute certainty that there will be enough time to arrive at your destination before the time of lighting [Shabbat] candles, taking into account the delays in exiting and entering cities during these hours, and delays on the roads, which are quite common. And it's clear that no one should travel on a last bus [before the Sabbath] which was significantly delayed in arriving at the bus stop. (And if in doubt, call a rabbi and ask if it's permissible to leave at this time.)"

"We use this opportunity to urge the public to reinforce their caution in observing the Sabbath. It's proper to learn the laws of the Sabbath with your household at the Shabbat table. There are excellent and affordable books that have been published and there are homes that have adopted the custom of learning a law or two at every [Shabbat] meal. This [practice] will certainly bring blessing to your home since the Sabbath is the source of all blessings."