Rollerblading on Shabbat: Worldviews

I saw the following short Q & A article on the Aish Hatorah  – Ask the Rabbi website which I’d like to share.

Rollerblading on Shabbat

Rollerblading on ShabbatMy fiance and I both enjoy rollerblading. I am curious to know if it is okay for us to roller-blade in a park on Saturdays if our intentions are to have fun rather than get in shape. Thank you very much.

The Aish Rabbi Replies: It’s funny you should mention this. I recently had to visit someone in the hospital on Shabbat afternoon, and walked 16 miles in the process. As I was walking, I saw some kids rollerblading, and thought to myself, “What a great idea. This could have really cut down my travel time!” It was too late to do anything about it, but I registered the idea for the future.

In answer to your question, it is permitted to use roller-blades on Shabbat, provided one does not carry them (i.e. when not wearing them) in a public domain. However, if roller-blades are customarily not used on Shabbat by observant Jews in your community, then you should also not use them. An exception could be made in case of pressing need, for example my hospital visit.

Source: Rollerblading on Shabbat: Shabbat – Forbidden Activities Response on Ask the Rabbi

It struck me how much one can get locked into their own worldview without realizing that in a different place and context, something which I might see as forbidden, is actually permissible.

Es passt nicht?

Take myself, for example. I live in a completely religious neighborhood in Israel. Most of the adult men don’t ride bikes even during the week because it’s considered Es passt nicht (Yiddish: “that’s not the way a person should go”). Using roller-blades in my town would probably be considered “not part of mainstream”.  Even for those who do use roller-blades in my district, for a guy to do it with his fiancé would be absolutely inconceivable. It doesn’t happen.  Therefor the image of a local newly engaged Yeshiva Bochur zooming down the main street on roller-blades with his fiancé on Shabbat, is so farfetched that it makes me giggle.

Yet here the Aish Rabbi actually permits it (within limitations of course) without blinking an eye. I write this with great admiration for him, because the Rabbi stripped away the social issues of Es passt nicht to deal with the essential Halachic issues of the Laws of Shabbat according to the worldview of the person who asked the question.

I believe that the Jewish Traveler should keep this idea in mind when visiting Jewish communities with different worldviews then his or her own. What might seem totally unacceptable in my world might be ethical and Kosher in another place. And conversely, when I meet a religious stringency on my journey which doesn’t fit with my tradition, that’s the time to be open and show respect.

Shabbat Shalom and safe rollerblading!