YIMBY Shabbat

For: YIMBYs, Jews and people who id as both!

Date: Friday Oct 8 - Saturday Oct 9.

Look up Shabbat candle lighting times where you live here.


  1. Don't Drive: From sundown to sundown - don’t drive!

  1. Socialize: Come onto the zoom Shabbat at 5pm PST/ 8pm EST on Friday evening Oct 8th

  1. Discuss: Read and interpret this week’s Torah reading (see below).

We picked this Shabbat because the Parsha is Noah, which contains the story of the Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel is a fairly troubling story for YIMBYs, on first reading, because God seems none too pleased with either the city or the tower that Noah’s descendants had made. Luckily, the Torah has 70 faces. When you meet with your YIMBY neighbor, you can discuss what you think this is really all about. The whole story is copied here below:

By Pieter Bruegel the Elder The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna) https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22179117

Parashat Noach 5782 / פרשת נֹחַ

Read on 9 October 2021 / 3 Cheshvan 5782

And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another: ‘Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men (Adam) builded.

And the LORD said: ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.

Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

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Is Biking permitted on Shabbat?

The prohibition against driving is a straightforward application of the prohibitions on making fire and on doing things you ordinarily do during the week, and also, a central tenet of urbanism. For our particular event, to bring these two communities together, we are focusing on this overlapping value of not driving.

Arguably there is also an urbanist value to getting off of your bike every now and then. Urbanists also care about walkability. Walking restricts you to a smaller radius, and it’s important for urbanists to be intimate with their immediate neighbours and neighborhood. If you normally bike, it’s not a bad idea to slow down and get a walker’s eye view of your area.

In addition, there are other Shabbat prohibitions that impact whether you can ride a bike. There are many other prohibitions for Shabbat that prevent us from accidentally doing work or being tempted to do it, and also to make sure that the day is noticeably different from other days. If you typically bike to work, bike to the grocery store, bike everywhere, then biking is a week-day like activity and to make the day holy you probably should not bike on Shabbat.

If you don’t normally bike, then you should ask yourself whether you think that riding a bike is a type of carrying. Some people say no, the bike is carrying you, you’re not carrying the bike. Others point out that you have to exert effort and skill to keep the bike from falling and to cause it to move. A bike with no support falls over and does not move from one place to another, it’s not a donkey, so maybe you are carrying the bike, as it carries you.

Another question is what you plan on doing with your bike once you get to your destination. If you’re not going to be carrying, you can’t carry a bike lock or key. You also can’t carry a spare tube or repair kit. If your bike breaks on your ride (including if your chain falls off or gets tangled), you can’t fix it. Are you prepared to just leave your bike where it is if you get a flat? If you fall over or drop it, and the chain comes off the gears, can you just leave it where it falls? Probably not.

A third concern is that riding a bike might facilitate traveling too far. During Shabbat you’re not supposed to travel more than 0.598 miles from the edge of your city, however, the edge if the city isn’t the municipal boundary, “According to halachah, unless there is more than 70 2/3 cubits between one house and the next, all contiguous housing is considered to be part of the same city. Therefore at times it would be permitted to walk even from one city to the next, as long as the whole way is populated.” However, in any case, you can’t travel more than 12 miles.

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