A major rabbinic figure in the Israeli Sephardic community claimed during a Saturday evening class that two recent Israeli disasters were cases of divine retribution. Israel’s sin: not honoring the Sabbath.
Ten days ago, a rocket intended to carry an Israeli communications satellite into orbit exploded on the launch pad two days before the scheduled launch. The destruction of the Amos-6 satellite was a major setback for the fledgling Israeli space industry, delaying future flights by several years and putting the future of the Israeli space industry in jeopardy.
Prominent rabbi Meir Mazuz, dean of the Kisseh Rahamim yeshiva (seminary) in Bnei Barak and the most influential rabbi in Israel’s Tunisian community, discussed the event in his class last Saturday night, claiming the catastrophe occurred because the launch was scheduled for the following Sabbath.
“For Amos-1 and all the other satellites, they knew to plan so the launch would not be on the Sabbath,” Rabbi Mazuz said.
Rabbi Mazuz also cited the desecration of the Sabbath as the cause of a recent deadly construction site collapse. One week ago, a four-story parking garage under construction in Tel Aviv collapsed due to an engineering failure, killing six workers. In his lesson, Rabbi Mazuz noted the peculiar circumstances surrounding the collapse.
“What happened this week has never happened before. A building, with engineers, with inspectors. Dozens of people trapped under the earth,” Rabbi Mazuz pointed out.
An investigation of the collapse revealed that the site had passed an inspection in June and that the construction complied with all government standards.
Rabbi Mazuz noted that work was carried out on the site on the Sabbath.
“The political leaders have to understand, the Sabbath does not forgive!” the rabbi warned. ”If there is suddenly some disaster, this is why. There is a blessing in the Sabbath. To run away from the Sabbath is the biggest mistake in the world.
“It’s all because [people] are belittling the Sabbath. They don’t understand that, in the end, the Sabbath will take justice for being dishonored. This isn’t the first time this has happened,” the rabbi noted. He cited another example of real-world results of disrespecting the Sabbath.
In 2006, a transformer was transported on the Sabbath to an electric station in Ashkelon in order to avoid inconveniencing weekday travellers. Upon installation, the transformer stopped working, said Rabbi Mazuz.
The issue of work on the Sabbath has been a recent focus of media attention. Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Sabbath construction work halted on Israel’s railroad lines, causing an uproar in the Knesset.
Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbinical authority of David’s Tomb in Jerusalem, told Breaking Israel News that keeping the Sabbath properly is so important to God that it has the power to usher in the ultimate redemption.
He pointed to a Talmudic commentary on the Book of Exodus which teaches that “Messiah will come if all of Israel keeps on Sabbath, because the Sabbath is considered as important as all of the mitzvot (Biblical commandments) combined.”
The opposite was also true, he noted. “A man who breaks the Sabbath, it is as if he has destroyed the world, because he is denying that the world has a creator who rested on the seventh day.”
He said that the people of Israel would do well to heed Rabbi Mazuz’s warning. “When the Israeli government and its institutions routinely deny the Torah and its commandments, when they deny the Sabbath, it is certainly time to sit up and take notice of that,” he said.
Rabbi Berger also noted that Rabbi Mazuz’s unusual proclamation was given weight by the religious leader’s record of renowned Bible scholarship.
“If a regular person had said something like this, I would immediately discount it as opinion,” said Rabbi Berger. “But I know Rabbi Mazuz, and before you judge what he says, you have to take into account that he is a brilliant Torah scholar on a level most people can’t even begin to understand.
“When he makes a statement, he has taken into account everything he knows. Even if it sounds like something you might not agree with, it is definitely worth considering his opinion as coming from a higher place.”