Shas Minister: We Must Get Rid of Court Like Chametz

Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) announced yesterday that he plans to appeal a Jerusalem court decision allowing grocery stores, restaurants and pizzerias to sell chametz (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 like we get rid of chametz, he added.

Jerusalem Municipal Court Judge Tamar Bar Asher-Zaban had ruled that it is permissible to sell chametz in grocery stores and restaurants during Passover, when Jewish law forbids the consumption or possession of leavened bread products. She ruled that these businesses are not legally considered "public" places, and therefore they may sell chametz without violating the "matzot" law that prohibits selling chametz in public over Passover.

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

Bar Asher-Zaban ruled, "The [matzot] bill, much like the law that was ultimately approved, does not prohibit the sale of chametz, 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 enforce the religious decree to eat matza, and wasn't meant to deal with chametz prohibitions as they are outlined in the halakha."

The ruling states that the matzot law is symbolic, and its goal is not to anchor halakhic laws in the secular law books. It addresses only the halakhic issue of not seeing chametz, and addresses only symbolic products: bread, rolls and pita. It also does not address the issue of not possessing chametz.