‘Unnecessary’ law banning unleavened bread on Passover passes first reading, Supreme Court blamed

Lawmaker says if the Supreme Court had not become involved in the first place, there would be no need for its bill to ban leavened products from medical institutions on Passover.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The so-called Chametz bill to ban leavened products (‘chametz’ in Hebrew) from hospitals on Passover passed its first reading in the Knesset Sunday with its own sponsor saying it was an extraneous piece of legislation.

“This is an unnecessary law, and I say this on behalf of the members of Knesset who submitted the law,” MK Moshe Gafni, who heads the Degel HaTorah faction of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, told the plenum before the vote.

“After more than 70 years in which hospitals here in the country operated quietly and peacefully during Passover, the Supreme Court’s anger came down on us,” he said, referring to a 2020 ruling that hospitals have no authority to issue a blanket prohibition on chametz during the week-long holiday.

While Jewish hospitals serve only food that is kosher for Passover to all patients, whatever their religion, so that patients who keep Jewish tradition would be able to eat on the holiday, the court said the institutions have no right to forbid visitors from bringing chametz to patients if they so choose.

“The court came and said that the director of the hospital has no authority to intervene in the matter,” Gafni said, unless a law was passed specifically for this purpose. The UTJ bill is the result, he said.

He stressed that this was not an issue that the court should have dealt with in the first place.

“Why did they put the country in this mess? What need was there for the court to intervene in the matter?” he asked. “This shameless interference only occurs in matters against religion.”

The Supreme Court had cited the principle of protecting patients’ religious freedom, which included their freedom from religion. Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara had repeated those words in a legal opinion rendered Sunday that the bill to let hospitals prevent visitors from entering with chametz “violates fundamental rights to individual autonomy and freedom from religion.”

The law is considered part of the legislative package to restore the balance of power between the branches of government to favor the people, represented by the Knesset, over the judiciary, whose overreach into legislative matters has long been criticized by the right-wing and religious parties.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said the law would backfire on itself.

“We don’t have to ask ourselves what will happen if this law is passed,” he said from the Knesset podium. “We know, because it already happened when the original chametz law was passed in 1986. When I was a child, no one ever even thought of eating chametz in public during Passover – even complete secularists who did not keep kosher, out of respect for tradition, out of an understanding that you do not want to offend your neighbors who keep tradition.”

“Then, in 1986, the chametz law was passed, and a year later people were having barbecues at the beach, [and] two years later they were eating chametz in every park…. Because people don’t like it when others try to force religion on them,” he continued. “When you use force, the immediate effect is the opposite. If you pass this law, there will be much more chametz in the hospitals. What will happen is that because of this legislation, there will be much greater blasphemy.”

The bill, which passed 51-46, will now go to the Knesset’s Health Committee to be prepared for its second and third readings.

The post ‘Unnecessary’ law banning unleavened bread on Passover passes first reading, Supreme Court blamed appeared first on World Israel News.

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