Israel Forever

For the week ending 15 May 2010 / 1 Sivan 5770

Protecting Shabbat from Foreign Dignitaries

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently arrived in Israel for a visit he was not met at the airport by any member of the Israel Foreign Ministry staff as usually demanded by protocol. The reason was that he arrived on a Friday night and the Foreign Ministry has a rule that no member of its staff goes to the airport to meet visiting dignitaries who arrive on Shabbat.

In explaining this rule, Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Yitzchak Eldan, who himself is not observant, stated that in a Jewish state outward observance of Shabbat must be upheld by all government officials.

The UN Chief showed an understanding of this policy, spent Saturday instead in the Palestinian Authority, and scheduled a meeting with Israeli officials after Shabbat was over.

If outward observance of the Shabbat such as this would penetrate into general society, we will merit the Heavenly promise of Israel forever.

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