Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

25 Teves 5759 - Jan. 13, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Shomer Shabbos Insurance: A Milestone for Shabbos Observance

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Shabbos Kodesh: The glittering diamonds and gems in Gold's Jewelry prove too tempting for the two young drug addicts. One throws a brick into the window while the other brandishes his pistol. Not to worry: Mr. Gold has full "insurance coverage" as well as a burglar alarm. Sirens wail and headquarters sends officers Meir and Rahamim, who apprehend the young hooligans and take them to Police Headquarters.

Another scenario: Shabbos Kodesh. One o'clock in the afternoon. Everyone is enjoying his Shabbos nap until the deafening wail of a siren is heard. Red lights go off and on at the security company headquarters. Security people locate the position of the tripped burglar alarm, jump into their cars and rush to the scene. The culprit? A sonic boom. The loser? Shabbos Kodesh!

The fact that Jews are involved with chillul Shabbos for every business in Israel that takes out property insurance was raised by the musaf kodesh Shabbos supplement of the Hebrew edition of Yated Ne'eman several months ago.

The problem: No insurance company will issue policies to businesses lacking a proper alarm system. These systems are connected to a security company's central headquarters, which receive electronic signals at the time of a break-in and then send out the necessary manpower to deal with the situation.

The solution: The Ararat Security Company has agreed to comply with requests from the Torah-observant community and, in cooperation with the Amishav Company, will be using Druse personnel to implement Shabbos alarm system security instead of Jews. The Ararat Security Company offers round the clock protection with monitoring of client locations from a central location.

Until now, there was no insurance company sympathetic to the need of Shabbos observers. Even chareidi insurance agents were at a loss how to solve this problem, since they are merely agents of giant insurance companies.

One Bnei Brak agent said several months ago, "They could not care less if you observe Shabbos or not. If you want insurance coverage, these are the conditions. You are bringing up a difficult problem. I have checked many different insurance companies and they all unconditionally require this protection. Including on Shabbos. They will make no exception for Shabbos. You must realize that the subject of protection is a relative one: a business located in a populated area is considered low risk, especially in Bnei Brak, where there is no traffic on Shabbos. In industrial areas situated far from residential areas, no one would cover them on Shabbos. Nothing can be done about this."

The insurance agent, who insisted on anonymity for him as well as the company he represents, said that only the establishment of a chareidi security company that would employ Druse on Shabbos would solve the problem. "There is no other solution," he stated.

When approached, various insurance companies said that they were sympathetic to the problem, but, nonetheless, could not offer a solution.

Yated Ne'eman went to where we always go to solve unsolvable problems; to gedolei haposkim. We turned to the rav of Ramat Elchonon, HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein.

"The problem is as follows," he said. "Each question must be judged on its own. I only wish to bring up the problem. In my humble opinion, there are cases involving armed, experienced robbers, and they are considered bo bamachteres. They are dangerous. They are liable to kill anyone in their way. One must weigh that in cases like these, it would be all right if the security people came, for it is a mitzvah to apprehend such snakes or even to kill them. You don't have to ask if there are Arabs there: even in a Jewish place one can come to a life-threatening situation. When taking into account even the basics of the law, security people would be permitted to come. One who succeeds in apprehending someone like that catches a true rodef. I am only saying that it is impossible to publicize such a halacha; everyone must turn to his own rav with his particular circumstances."

As for the problem of monetary loss, the rav replied, "Money has no value when compared to the value of Shabbos. . . Shabbos is the source of all blessing. If it is a situation where Jews would come to save someone only from monetary loss, it would be forbidden to insure in this way. This is psak halacha. It would be permitted to come under certain conditions, like when one is near a border. And there are circumstances when catching a thief is clearly a matter of saving lives, since today many of them are armed. But one must weigh every situation. There are places where it is known that they would be approached by armed thieves for they have valuable merchandise, and to catch such thieves is a big mitzvah. In my opinion, on Shabbos also."

The rav stated his psak, "Not to operate [alarm devices on Shabbos]." When asked about employing Druse personnel on Shabbos, the rav stated that this was a very good idea.

This psak also, of course, has implications for alarm systems in homes as well as in cars. The problem there, however, is less serious, since homes are usually occupied and cars usually parked on Shabbos and holidays.

The question reached the deputy chairman of the Ararat Insurance Company, Assaf Mendelson, himself a Shabbos observer who wanted to find a solution to the problem. He contacted Amishav Security Services with the goal of forming a type of cooperative that would allow Shabbos-observant customers to employ alarms in their businesses on Shabbos with desecrating it. He viewed it as a "business matter . . . to do something for the extra soul with which we are imbued on Shabbos." Since his goal was spiritual, his request was fulfilled.

A meeting was held in the Ararat offices. The director of Amishav, Gideon Epstein, came accompanied by a retinue of advisers. The Yated reporter came equipped with the psak of HaRav Zilberstein. The meeting took place in an atmosphere of good will. Epstein made it clear that everything depended on the profitability of the deal. Would it be worth his while to operate a Shabbos-observant headquarters on Shabbos? It was agreed that his chareidi agents would make an initial survey of the matter. It was also agreed that Amishav would not raise its fees as a result of this special service to the shomer-Shabbos public.

The company worked with Rav Tzvi Glasner of the Committee for Shabbos. Rav Glasner, who has done so much to strengthen the wall of Shabbos observance, immediately took up the task.

In a revolutionary, unprecedented step, after long, weary deliberations, Ararat and Amishav finally decided to sign a contract. Amishav would use Druse personnel (all IDF veterans) on Shabbos. The dream of many: "Shomer Shabbos Headquarters," went into high gear. The two companies asked Yated Ne'eman to wait four months before publishing anything, until the logistics were set up. Policies had to be written and non-Jewish workers hired.

Yated Ne'eman is the one who brought about this revolutionary change, from the initial posing of the problem to following up all the steps along the way and then publicizing the decision.

Rav Zvi Glasner began a round of visits to gedolei haposkim to gain their support for the plan. The chairman of Ararat as well as the Yated Ne'eman reporter accompanied him on his appointed tasks. Here is an abridged report of what transpired:

On Sunday, the 28th of Tishrei they came to the home of HaRav Zilberstein. Rav Glasner explained the sequence of events and asked HaRav Zilberstein for his approval and blessing for the new project. HaRav Zilberstein was in complete support of the idea and stressed over and over that this was a great step in the strengthening of Shabbos.

Rav Glasner also raised a particular problem with the Rav, which had been previously forgotten. In case of a robbery, the headquarters is required to report the event to the police, even on Shabbos. Assaf Mendelson, director of Ararat, suggested a solution. Perhaps the police department could be notified about the break-in on motzei Shabbos! This proposal was acceptable to HaRav Zilberstein, who added that Ben Gurion said once, "No Shabbos goy will work here," and now, in front of our very eyes, a security system run by Shabbos goyim is being set up. He added that this is a vision of the End of Days, when, "Your work will be performed by others."

HaRav Zilberstein concluded his remarks by promising to visit the home of HaRav Nissim Karelitz, and to his illustrious father-in-law, HaRav Eliashiv, to ask him to add his haskomo to the plan.

On Wednesday, the first of Marcheshvan, Rav Glasner and Mr. Mendelson visited the office of the Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, Rav Simcha Kook. Again, the problems and proposed solutions were presented. Mr. Mendelson added that if the solution turned out to be profitable in Bnei Brak he would offer it in Jerusalem and in other areas where there are a lot of chareidim. Rav Kook said, "As soon as we see that the plan is successful, similar plans should be formulated to solve the problems of insuring homes and cars on Shabbos."

With the blessing of HaRav Wosner and HaRav Nissim Karelitz, followed by the approval of HaRav Eliashiv, the plan was put into action. All that remains is for the shomer Shabbos businessmen to vote with their checkbooks and make sure that their insurance policy is as kosher as the rest their Shabbos.


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