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The Truth About Israel & Sabbath/Sunday Legislation

The Truth About Israel & Sabbath/Sunday Legislation

Dear Friends,

I have received some emails from some of you about a supposed change of legislation in Israel concerning the Sabbath, the last one was from Jacques Doukhan asking me if this news is true.

It is important to diffuse this email among our people who take their fantasy for a reality and think that the Jewish people will follow the papacy to change the Sabbath to Sunday. The faithful Jewish remnant people like Orthodox and conservative movements will never give up the Sabbath for Sunday. We have to say and to preach that. If there is a remnant church, there is a remnant Israel which will keep faithfully the law of God even though from time to time we think that they are keeping it too much.

Here is my answer about this legislation

Dear Dr Doukhan,

Thank you for sending me your email and for your question about this matter of “Israel changing her legislation of Sabbath to Sunday”.

I am living in Israel and I am happy that you came to me to know if this “Sunday laws” proposition is true or not. Many people repeat information gotten on the Internet without checking if they are true or not.

First of all, according to your news this initiative would come from the NRP, that means the National Religious Party in Israel. The people who think that this news is true really don’t know the religious Jews of Israel and of Brooklyn and from other parts of the World. They are ready to be martyrs rather to allow a change in the law of the Shabbat. There is a maxim in Israel which says that “it is not Israel which has kept the Sabbath but it is the Sabbath which has kept Israel”. The Jewish religious people know very well that if they existed until today it is because they have been faithful to God and its law and it is not today that they will give up their faithfulness to the Sabbath.

Some people, specially Adventists who are great hurry to see persecution coming are ready even to distort any news about Sabbath and Sunday to let our people think that we are closer and closer to the end. They are ready to take their fantasies for reality, believing that even Jews will pass the “Sunday Laws.” That will not happen.

What is the matter exactly:

Israel is a country who wanted from its creation to follow the law of God and this law specifies that we have to work six days and then rest one day, on Shabbat. That’s why the week of five days of work and two days off does not exist in Israel. But some religious people complain that they don’t have any time to go to visit their families, to enjoy some “healthy” entertainment, to go somewhere with their car during their days off, because the day off in Israel is only Sabbath and it is forbidden for Jews to break the law of the Sabbath for all these activities. And, in addition, they argue that if they could have a second day off, like the western countries, maybe more Jews will come back to the observation of the Sabbath, they will have another day to go to the beach, and they will become more religious.

But the government is not ready to go to this direction to give a second day off officially. They have calculated that it will cost billions of dollars per year by the Israeli economy if they decide to have a second day off. And even if the Knesset decided such a thing, it would not be mandatory because according to the Bible we have to work six days and to rest on Sabbath, only Sabbath will be mandatory for companies who employ people; if you have your own company and you don’t have any employees, then you are free to do what ever you want, even to open on Sabbath if you want. In fact, very few cafes or grocery stores are open on Sabbath and most of the time the employees are Palestinians, like most of the employees of the hotels.

The discussion is also to decide if this second day off would be Friday or Sunday.

Those who argue for Friday, say that Friday is already a half day off. For some administrations and companies it is already a day off, the Ministries are already closed on Friday. The Lawyer of our organization is closed on Friday and Sabbath. And other work places like banks closed on Friday at noon to give time to their employees to be prepared for the Sabbath. And all others companies like supermarket, construction etc… close at about 3:00pm. Since many companies, offices etc. have a half day off, it would cost less to decide that Friday will be the second day off.

Those who argue for Sunday are the bankers and people who have business with companies abroad. Because in most of the countries all over the world Sunday is a day off, Wall Street and other share markets are closed and the banks are limited in their transaction. Every time I have had to change money on Sunday, my bank could not do it, because they said that the change market is closed in Europe and they don’t know what the rate will be on Monday morning when the market opens. Finally it has been about one year now that our Bank agency decided to close on Sunday and to open later in the evening during the week to solve this problem (but many other agencies and banks are still open on Sunday).


I believe that the people who are behind this rumor could be Anti-Semitic or even partisan of the “Replacement theology” and are happy to say, look Israel has really been rejected by God, they have even rejected the law of God and the Sabbath. Let me say to these people, that will never happen. Maybe reformed Jews who don’t believe in the inspiration of the Bible can go this direction to say Sabbath or Sunday does not matter, but conservative and orthodox Jews, never. They will give their life if it is necessary (as they have done during the past 4000 years) but will not give up the law of God and the Sabbath.

As SDA pastors and ministers, we have to be careful what we preach, I remember that I was at the ASI convention in August and someone came to me to say that G. Edward Reid, Stewardship director of the NAD gave a speech and spoke about this new legislation, he asked me if that was true or not. I said to him that it is not true. And later in September, I was in a pastoral council in the Netherlands where I met Brother Reid, and I said to him that we have to be careful what we preach or say, because with our authority as pastors or leaders, we have a great influence on our people and we cannot spread false news.

However, in fact, the law in Israel has not changed and I doubt that it will ever change (as long as Israel is a Jewish country). But even if new legislation comes to give a second day off, it will never be instead of the Sabbath that God sanctified on the seventh day of the week of the creation.

I hope that my answer will be helpful to clarify the current situation in Israel in the minds of many members and friends.

Richard Elofer
Israel Field, President