Friday, June 06, 2008

Reassuring Representative Rangel

Quoth Steven Benen:
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) must be pretty upset with Clinton right now. He’s not going to her concession speech tomorrow, and when asked why, Rangel said, “It’s a Jewish holiday — enough said.” Rangel isn’t Jewish.
I appreciate Rangel's support for American yiddishkeit. But a few points:

1. Saturday isn't a Jewish holiday (chag), it's the Jewish sabbath (shabbat). While I grant that these two are sometimes grouped together ("yom tov"), they are basically separate ideas. (Rep. Rangel may be confused because the Jewish holiday of Shavuot is coming up; but, in fact, it doesn't start until Sunday night.)

2. Clinton's event is apparently going to be in D.C. Since Congress is in session, I assume that Rep. Rangel will be in town anyway. While obviously Rep. Rangel should check with a qualified posek, which I am decidedly not, as far as I know there would be no objection in Jewish law to attending such an event on the Sabbath, as long as one walked there, and didn't personally do such things as e.g. use an electric microphone.

3. In any event, Rangel needen't worry: according to Jewish belief, non-Jews are not obligated to keep the Sabbath. Actually, they are specifically forbidden from doing so.

I hope this helps.

1 comment:

Michael A. Burstein said...

I appreciated this post.

It would be nice to think that Rangel's respect for Jewish holidays would extend even further for the whole Democratic party. Here in Massachusetts the state convention is always held on a Saturday, and sometimes even over Shavuot.