Sam Lipski gets it wrong about the Australian election date

[Disclaimer: as always, these views are my own. They do not represent my employer or any organisation with which I am affiliated or a member of]

In an article in the Australian Jewish News, the erudite and respected figure editorialised that it didn’t bother him that the Australian Labor Party through the Prime Minister Julia Gillard had chosen Yom Kippur as the election date, despite having other possibilities. Amongst his points Lipski argues that as far as he knew Halacha knew no difference between the voting on Shabbos and the voting on Yom Kippur. Despite Sam’s Orthodox roots and his current alleged membership of the (small) Conservative Jewish Community, it shocks me that he would make such statements. Granted, the job of an editorial is to be somewhat left (sic) field and sensationalist, but in this case he has taken his license too far.

The implication that once you drive on Shabbos, you may as well drive on Yom Kippur is a nonsense, and Sam knows it. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, and even those who might infract on other days, attempt to refrain from doing so on Yom Kippur.


On Yom Kippur evening after davening at Elwood Shule, there are many people who walk back to their homes even though they drive on Shabbos. Are we expecting Sam to knock on their window and say “Hey Buddy, what’s the point, you already drove last Shabbos”. It is well-known that the Conservative movement’s attempt to purify driving on Shabbos was an abject failure. Even its own leaders now acknowledge this fact.

No Sam, your role isn’t to find special meaning on the “wonderful” conjugation of the election and Yom Kippur. That, is distasteful, disrespectful, and frankly grandstanding. You already have a good name. There is no need to engage in this populist, sensationalist nonsense that strikes at the holiest day of the Jewish Calendar.

Michael Danby a Labor MP, a member of Elwood Shule, put it respectfully and rightly when he expressed disappointment over the date and announced that extra polling days would be available in Jewish areas.

I urge all people to not even remotely consider the possibility of casting your ballot on Yom Kippur. Do it before, or by postal vote. All Orthodox Shules should contact their members in this regard, in my opinion. I’d venture to say that even the Conservadox, Conservative or Reform movements should do the same.

I’m told that on another blog, there is an article whose title suggests it is “Great” that an election is held on Yom Kippur. Whether this is sarcasm, wit or a real opinion, it’s a great shame that writers and thinkers even have the temerity, let alone the Jewish vacuity, to evince a view that is remotely positive about such a sad conjunction.

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

4 thoughts on “Sam Lipski gets it wrong about the Australian election date”

  1. THe reason the other web site believes its great that the election is on Yom Kipper is actually in line with your reasoning many people may consider voting on Shabbat but very few Jews would consider to actually vote on Yom Kipper and would be more likely to postal or absentee vote


  2. Um, technically he’s right. Breaking Shabbos is a much greater sin than breaking Yom Kippur. Shabbos is an issur skiller, while YK is only an issur corres. A mechalel shabbos is considered mumar lechol hatorah, while a mechalel YK is not. Shabbos’s greater holiness is reflected in the fact that Shabbos has seven aliyos while YK has only six.

    What you wrote is a matter of gefeel; YK feels holier and more important than Shabbos. When you’re spending all day begging Hashem for forgivenness, breaking it seems not just wrong but outright chutzpadik clapei maaloh — like tovel vesheretz beyodo. It’s much easier to explain to someone why he shouldn’t drive on YK than why he shouldn’t drive on Shabbos. And of course since it’s only one day a year it’s simply easier to keep YK than it is to keep every Shabbos.

    On the other hand, Rebbi says that itzumo shel yom mechaper, even for chillul YK! According to Rebbi the only way to actually get korres for breaking YK is to choke on the food and die before you had a chance to get it all down, so there was no time for itzumo shel yom to atone for you. So if someone’s going to vote, better they do it on YK than on a normal Shabbos, since they’ll be forgiven immediately.


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