Shas Minister: We Must Get Rid of Court Like We Get Rid of Hametz

Jerusalem court ruling permits sale of hametz in groceries, restaurants, pizzerias during Passover.

Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) announced Thursday that he plans to appeal a Jerusalem court decision that allows groceries, restaurants and pizzerias to sell hametz (leavened bread) on Passover.

"The court must rule on what it knows, and not halakha (Jewish religious law). The court's ruling points a gun to the head of the Jewish people," he said. We must get rid of the court the way we get rid of hametz, he added.

Earlier, Jerusalem Municipal Court Judge Tamar Bar Asher-Zaban ruled that it is now permitted to sell hametz in groceries, restaurants and pizzerias during the Passover holiday, during which Jewish law forbids the consumption or possession of leavened bread products. According to Bar Asher-Zaban, the businesses included in her ruling are not considered "public" places by law, and therefore the selling of hametz in those places does not fall under the "matzot" law which prohibits the public selling of hametz.

The judge overturned four indictments submitted against restaurant owners who served hametz during last Passover.

Bar Asher-Zaban ruled that "the [matzot] bill, much like the law that was ultimately approved, does not prohibit the sale of hametz, but was meant only to 'prevent the display of bread, rolls and pitas in public.' That, therefore, is the purpose of the law. The law wasn't meant to interfere in the religious decree to eat Matza, and wasn't meant to deal with hametz prohibitions as they are outlined in the halakha."

According to the ruling, the matzot law is symbolic, and its goal is not to anchor halakhic laws within the secular law books. It does not include all hametz products, but rather specifically addresses the products that symbolize hametz: bread, rolls and pita. It addresses only the halakhic issue of not seeing hametz, and doesn't deal with the issue of not possessing hametz. There is no clause in the law that forbids possessing hametz or eating it, the ruling says. "The entire purpose of the law is one thing ? to prevent the display of hametz in public."

National Religious Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev said that the ruling is removed from reality and deals a critical blow to the Jewish identity of the state of Israel.

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said that the judge's attempt at cleverness contradicted the intention of the legislation.