HaGaon HaRav Zilberstein: One Must Protest on Shabbos Even If It Will Cause Police To Be Michallel Shabbos


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In light of growing Chilul Shabbos R”L and the activation of Shabbos bus service in some cities in Gush Dan and Jerusalem, the question was asked why it is preferable not to protest on Shabbos because such protests cause Chilul Shabbos by police, photographers, members of the media and others.

HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita, a member of the Degel Hatorah Moetzas Gedolei Torah, announced that one should protest on Shabbos.

HaGaon Rav Zilberstein rejects those who opine that protests to decry Chilul Shabbos cause Chilul Shabbos, announcing one may protest on Shabbos.

“We are in a difficult situation. Many of our brothers who err, wish to uproot Shabbos and to operate buses like is the case during the week, and the grief is very great. We are in a serious situation that has not been seen since the establishment of the state, such a difficult situation with so much public Chilul Shabbos. There was never public bus service by the government on Shabbos, and now, Lavan wants to uproot everything.”

Regarding a protest on Shabbos, HaGaon HaRav Zilberstein said, “True, there are many who are strengthened in all kinds of reinforcements on Shabbos, but my teacher and father-in-law, Maran HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv ZT”L, would say that there must be a large demonstration and protest, and the chizuk [asifos] is insufficient, despite being good and beautiful things, but does not fulfil one’s obligation to protest.”

The rav feels everyone who holds Shabbos dear must protest, as was the position of Rav Elyashiv.

The rav was asked a second time, if protests will lead to other Chilul Shabbos as mentioned above, citing the Gemara asks just how far must one go to rebuke those who are not keeping Shabbos. Rav Zilberstein quotes Rav and the Rambam.

וכך גם פסק ברמב”ם וכן תמיד חייב אדם להוכיחו עד שיכהו החוטה ויאמר לו איני שומע, וכל שאפשר בידו למחות ואינו מוחה הוא נתפש בעוון אלו כיון שאפשר לו למחות בהם. ולכן אם ברור לנו שהשוטרים או מחללי השבת יכו את המוחים, אולי אין צריך משום כך להפגין

The rav explains that if police are going to strike the protestors, then persons one does not have to protest.

After probing the mater, Rav Zilberstein decided in the name of Rav Elyashiv, that one must protest with determination. “If each person would exonerate himself from performing a mitzvah of ‘tochachah’, then the stores, transportation and all businesses in Israel would operate in Shabbos as they do on weekdays, and there would not be any trace remaining of Shabbos Chalila.”

The rav explains the goal of the protests are to stop the spread of Chilul Shabbos, and therefore, one should not be fearful of others being Mechalel Shabbos because of the protests and one should protest the desecration of the holy day.

Rav Zilberstein concluded by saying, “We are responsible for Shmiras Shabbos throughout our nation, and therefore we are commanded, and we are not responsible for the [police] officer who calls his superiors.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. I see a child enveloped in flames. The bystanders are afraid; they do nothing, or else they are only trying to save the building. I see the child. I rush in. Should I first ask my neighbor whether he, too, sees the child? Should I worry whether, in my haste, I am jostling someone, or perhaps hindering the salvage of the building by running in? Perhaps I am causing a draft, fanning the fire?
    “‘But,’ you might ask, ‘what if you are too late? What if the building collapses on top of the child in a roaring conflagration before you reach it?’ To this I reply: ‘Were I to be buried under it, I would at least have done my duty.’” (Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch, Letter Nineteen, The Nineteen Letters).

  2. With all due respect to the Rav, is it not glaringly obvious that the amount of anti religious sentiment in Israel grows in direct correspondence to the amount of angry Haredi protests ?? Its sure obvious to me living in Jerusalem.

  3. The move to start running busses on Shabbos clearly comes from a strong feeling on the part of many in Israel that they don’t want religion forced on them. 70 years of no transportation on Shabbos has not brought people closer to Torah. It has only re-enforced their feelings against religion which is why there is such a push to have public transportation on Shabbos. Maybe the religious should stop trying to force religion on those who don’t want it. Compulsion does not work.

  4. Agree with the above posting that violent protests have and will do NOTHING to discourage secular yidden from seeking to engage in their own activities on Shabbos and not be held captive by a Chareidi tizbur may perceive as contributing nothing to society while seeking to coerce them to adhere to their norms. Until they find a way of bridging the gap and engaging in positive dialogue the Chareidi protestors will continue to find themselves ignored by the secular and banged up by the police .

  5. With all due respect to the great Rabbi, I wonder if there is a difference between the sinners hitting the protesters vs the police hitting them. The simple language of the RaMBaM mentions the sinner specifically hitting the protester. The sinners will surely hit them if they block roads, buses, etc. as has happened numerous times. However, If they stand on the side of the road as a simple demonstration, nobody will really care that much. The police may come, and the protesters would be indirectly causing them to do extra Chillul Shabbos. I don’t feel I’m zoche to understand this psak.

  6. Ok. Go yell in the streets and then just watch the hordes of בעלי תשובה it causes.

    What a Mitzvah, going to convince the מחללי שבת to keep, and love, שבת.

  7. Jeff Stuart, I think it all depends on if you can categorize yidden in E”Y as tinokos shenishbu. I believe it’s a machlokes haposkim. Many hold they are mumarim.

  8. the more precise sheailah is: Is a protest on the Shabbat that will cause no change permitted when it causes chillul shabbos by those who have to maintain the flow of traffic and other necessities?

  9. I used to think people didnt have the audacity to speak up when a Godol BTorah has spoken well …………
    Please all commentators just start your own religion – yussel tell me where your temple and holy writ can be found so I can send some people to you – godol Hadora for a start is absolutely not a Yid

  10. where is gadolhadora?
    this rav is from the PELEG ETZ
    or maybe finally they have done something to make the GAON feel something must be done,
    even if ….. maybe… what if… animals…

  11. TOI:
    I don’t think that those who disagree see themselves as greater poskim, nor as people who know more Torah.
    Everyone has the same goal, which is to diminish Chillul Shabbos.
    Rather, it’s a matter of strategy as to how to best accomplish this.
    They’re not arguing over how to read a gemara, but whether haredi demonstrations will ultimately be counterproductive.

  12. Yussel,
    The point is not about forcing religion on people who don’t want but to protest is to acknowledge that Shabbos is holy . This is not about kiruv but only about the sanctity of Shabbos which overrides kiruv. If we invite a secular person into our home we let him know what the restrictions are so the sanctity of Shabbos is not violated. Israel is the home of G-d’s people and we must let all Jews know that we can’t accept chillul Shabbos. This does not mean we do not try other avenues of kiruv which we should simultaneously. Invite them into our home for Shabbos etc, let them know they have a rich heritage.

  13. Hey Yussel,
    No on is telling the Tel Avivians what to do, no one enforcers religious ideology on them, but when it comes to Jerusalem pride matches it touches a raw nerve on the CHAREIDIM, so don’t give me your BS