Nathan Bigman

For the planet: Public transportation on Shabbat

Take it from an aspiring nudist: Ramming the Sabbath down people's throats accomplishes nothing positive
Tel Aviv bus (iStock)
Tel Aviv bus (iStock)

I know a secular Jew who has a lot to say about public transportation on Shabbat. To be fair, I don’t just casually know this secular Jew, I helped conceive him. He was actually secular at birth, then was religious for a while, then reverted back to his natural state. By that I mean he became secular, not a nudist.

Bear with me as I continue to spin around and yodel to avoid telling you what he said, even though the whole point of this is to tell you what he said. We were eating schnitzel in one of those restaurants with a real kashrut certificate, not that Rabbanut garbage. I remarked on the amazing effort by the city of Tel Aviv to provide bike paths, and he said, “As long as there’s no public transportation on Shabbat, people will own cars, and when they own cars, they’ll drive them. And I’m thinking about becoming a nudist.”

Owning cars results in:

  • Car manufacturing, which requires energy and raw materials, and releases all kinds of waste products including my favorite, carbon dioxide. You’re probably a fan, too.
  • People driving cars, which means exhaust, accidents and injuries, honking horns, and frayed nerves – and more carbon dioxide.
  • Highways, parking lots, noise pollution, and podcast proliferation.

The non-nudist progeny pointed out that while we’re pretending to be in the First World of public transportation and carbon emissions, we’re entirely Third World for 24 hours (15%) of the week. And people who own cars so they can travel on Shabbat will also drive them during the week.

Why oh why do we insist on forcing people to keep Shabbat? So that a quarter of us can have peace and quiet? To please God by convincing the secular that the religious are all sh_ts? All we accomplish is destruction of the environment, and animosity toward Shabbat and its enforcers.

I like Shabbat. You like Shabbat? Keep Shabbat. You like it so much that you want to share it with others? Share it with others. Let them know how relaxing and beautiful it is to shut the phone and the TV for a day. You can even point out that a family day without motorized transportation can be beautiful. Ramming it down their throats accomplishes nothing positive, and is destructive to the natural environment – and to the social environment.

About the Author
Nathan Bigman is the author of the book Shut Up and Eat (How to quietly become a triplitarian) .
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