Empty Sabbath Streets
Jerusalem, Israel and the Palestinian Territories
According to Jewish law, the operation of a motor vehicle constitutes multiple violations of the prohibited activities on Sabbath.
Although this law is based on texts that existed long before the existence of the automobile, the Torah prohibits driving on the basis that a labor is being performed by the act of operating a motor vehicle. The vehicle's ignition creates a spark, which violates one of 39 prohibited activities on the Sabbath. Additionally, the laws of Shabbat place limits on the distance one may travel beyond the city/town where one is spending Sabbath, regardless of the method of transportation.
While the operation of a motor vehicle violates Sabbath laws, another question is if it is permissible to ride as a passenger in a vehicle driven by a gentile. Some Orthodox rabbis have ruled that since a passenger being present in a vehicle may cause the vehicle to require additional fuel versus the absence of that passenger, this practice is generally not permitted.
The result? Empty streets in the heart of Jerusalem in the middle of a Saturday afternoon…