Orthodox Rabbis Rule Seculars Can Visit Family On Shabbat
If you're a secular Jew and have religious friends, you've probably been invited by them occasionally to "do Shabbat in our house."
Up until now, if you accepted the invitation, you would have had to arrive at their home before the start of Shabbat, but a new halachic ruling aims to change that.
The ruling, obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth, was not written by Conservative or Reform rabbis but rather by 170 Orthodox rabbis from the Beit Hillel organization, which fights radicalization among the religious public.
Today, if you're an observant Jew and you invite a secular person to spend Shabbat with you, you must make sure that he arrives before it begins so as not to desecrate the holy day of rest.
Beit Hillel rabbis decided to change this situation in order to allow religious parents whose children have become secular to invite them over on Shabbat, even if they arrive by car.
The organization's director, Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth, explains the logic behind the halachic ruling: "When your intention is for the sake of a mitzvah, for example to introduce your guest to a proper Shabbat, it changes the picture."
According to Beit Hillel Chairman Rabbi Meir Nehorai, "We feel responsible also for torn families which have children who have left religion, or seculars seeking to get closer. We're not looking to violate halachic tools, but to stretch the band as far as the Halacha lets us.
"A Shabbat meal, with the surrounding atmosphere, has great value. I recently heard about a former religious man who would return to his parents' home on weekends, and the kindergarten teacher at the kibbutz said to him, 'Be careful, your child is about to become religious.'"