Chief Rabbinical Council member and Kiryat Ono Rabbi Ratzon Arusi spoke to Arutz Sheva about the debate regarding soccer on Shabbat (Sabbath).
Rabbi Arusi attacked the "refined" people who insist public transportation and soccer games should be allowed on Shabbat, in the name of equality and helping society's poorer sectors. According to Rabbi Arusi, these people are the ones harming equality and just values.
"Do the traditional Jews who love soccer not deserve soccer without Shabbat desecration?" Rabbi Arusi asked. "Do all of the ticket-sellers and ushers not deserve to rest? Do the bus drivers not deserve to rest on Shabbat? Where is the equality [in their suggestion]?"
Rabbi Arusi also expressed sorrow over the fact that the secular community does not see the great value in Shabbat.
"Shabbat is a gift from G-d," he said. "It was given both to people and to animals. But I'm not discussing whether sports is healthy, or whether it honors Shabbat. We've successfully moved soccer games to Sunday, Friday, or Saturday night after Shabbat ends. Why not continue with that?"
"Once I took a taxi, and the driver saw me holding a holy book and said he's jealous of me. He told me that for several years, he worked with a company which did not take off for Shabbat. He wasn't religious - just traditional - and he was used to going to synagogue on Friday night. His wife would light candles, and when he came home, the family would eat a festive meal together.
"At some point the company told him that work on Shabbat will be compensated with 400% of the regular pay. The taxi driver agreed, and amassed capital. When the company fired him, he received a large compensation package, in addition to the large amount of money he already had. But none of it remained with him, because the children left the Shabbat table after he started working on Shabbat.
"They ended up in the streets, doing drugs. All of his money went to rehabilitation for them, and what didn't was stolen by his children. Today, he works as a taxi driver so that he can feed his family. None of the wealth he had stayed.
"This story shows that nothing can compare to a family and community Shabbat. Shabbat brings a person rest, contentment, serenity, and happiness."
Previously, the Movement for a Jewish and Democratic State demanded to cease Shabbat soccer and not employ players on Shabbat against their will. A new petition against allowing soccer games to be held on Shabbat received signatures from 250 soccer players within twelve hours.
In 2016, the Labor Court ruled in favor of professional soccer players from the National League who petitioned to not be forced to play soccer on Shabbat.