Israel – IDF Rabbinate Developed Shabbat-Friendly Phones for Soldiers


    Israel – The IDF rabbinate has developed a Shabbat-friendly phone that will allow soldiers to speak on the telephone without desecrating Shabbat. The military magazine B’Machaneh reports that hundreds of the new devices will be distributed on IDF bases in the upcoming months.

    The phone makes use of bluetooth wireless technology, and allows for fast dialing. Soldiers can answer calls using an earpiece attached to the device. While the device makes use of some technologies that would normally be prohibited on Shabbat, the technologies are used in an indirect manner, making use of the phone permissible.

    The devices will replace an earlier phone designed for use on Shabbat, which was expensive and could be used only on select lines. The previous phone also received complaints for its relatively lengthy dialing time and delays in conversation.

    Soldiers are permitted to desecrate Shabbat when necessary for security reasons, due to the precept that Shabbat laws may be violated in order to save a life. However, the rabbinate works to minimize Shabbat desecration whenever there is an option to do so.

    Israel National News turned to Rabbi — and engineer — Yisrael Rosen, well known head of the Tzomet Institute for Halacha and Technology based in Gush Etzion, to get his reaction to the new technology.
    “It is wonderful to see religious Zionism in action in the latest initiative of the Unit for Halacha and Technology in the IDF Rabbinic Corps,” Rabbi Rosen said. “They are in constant communication with our Insitute from the time this unit was formed in response to the increasing numbers of religiously observant officers, combat and commando unit soldiers  who turned to  IDF Rabbis for solutions to halachic problems that arise in the fight against terror and on the battlefield.”
    “The IDF Rabbinate”, he continued, “under the last two IDF Chief Rabbis, Weis and Ronsky, expanded the chaplaincy’s halachic activities beyond the traditional kashrut, prayer and enablement of religious practice to dealing with these new technological combat issues. The halachic authority figure in the unit is IDF Colonel Rabbi Ayal Krim whose assistant, IDF Captain Rabbi Ronen Aharon also has an extensive technological background.”
    Rabbi Rosen explained that the technologies developed by the Unit for Halacha are not meant for general use. “The two fields of security and medicine are areas where there is room for special, specific ‘heterim’, i.e. lenient halachic decisions, due to the fact that these may affect issues of life and death,” he said. “They are generally not applicable to economic areas, such as tourism, agriculture  or industry, but can be used, with Rabbinic consultation, in old age homes or for the handicapped.”

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    1. This is wonderful news. Hopefully the same technology will quickly be available for frumme yidden in the U.S. so we can have a cellphone available for emergencies when we go to daven on shabbos and yom tov. This would be especially important for older yidden and those with little children. It would still be assur to use such phones in shul while davening.

    2. while i respect what Rabbi Rosen does this idea sound like it will water down Halachah

      how long will it be before an average Joe walks into Shul with a blue tooth on and talking saying its very important

      • Does the fact that you can ride in an ambulance cause people to show up to shul in one every week? If people are so ridiculous that they’re going to look for any kula possible, then maybe they have other issues to work out with their yiddishkeit.

      • Former IDF Chief Rav Ronsky was an amazing talmid chacham and had a huge impact on religious and secular soldiers through his work increasing the visibility of the IDF rabbanut.

        • thank you for not trashing me here

          if this is a New device that is unique and will be exclusive then fine
          but if this is a Heter to use existing technology that every one has i see the potential for massive abuse and the watering down of Halachah

          imagine a soldier who tells his CO that he does not hold by it but is now forced to wear/use it will his CO know when Halachah allows it to be used

          i knew “frum jews” that during troubling times (in israel) would keep a cell phone with him on Shabbos so he can be called by non religious friends to know what is happening even though there is a great system in place where when there is trouble there are radio stations that Frum families tune into and leave the radio on with the volume up and if there is a problem there would be a message the rest of the time the station was silent this system is still in effect today there is no reason for any NON SERVING Frum or any Jew that is not in the to keep a cell phone with on Shabbos and say he has a Heter to keep it ON for emergencies

          what does that tell everyone else

        • Business?! No matter how urgent it is, it may not be done on Shabbos even without a phone! Certainly there would be no heter to use this phone for it.

      • No, you can not. Read the article. It may NOT be used except for genuine emergency situations, such as those encountered by soldiers, doctors, EMTs, etc. It makes use of heterim that are NOT available for ordinary purposes. And of course it is forbidden to do business at all on Shabbos, even without a phone!

    3. in case of emergency no matter what it is, if its for saving life you can use any phone on shabbos, no need this one.
      this one phone is for “regular conversations”, like you can call your friends or anything, its just a way to used a normal phone according to shabbos law so soon we will use internet and phone and anything like this during shabbos !

      • I was also wondering. What is muter is anyway muter and a chiuv to save lives.
        I never thought that voice activation was not a m’locho.

        • Even for pikuach nefesh, shabbos is only דחויה, not הותרה. If there is a way to minimise the chilul shabbos, one must do so. This is a clear halacha in siman 328. And there are many situations that are not pikuach nefesh, so chilul shabbos would not be permitted, but there is enough urgency that something like this would be. For instance if someone’s health is in danger, but not his life, one may NOT call it “pikuach nefesh”, but Chazal relaxed many issurim derabbonon.

      • Yes any phone can be used in case of an emergency, but no this is not meant for regular conversation. Just because you can use any phone doesn’t mean you cannot have a system in place that minimizes the desecration of shabbos, and that is what these phones are designed for. If you have a high propensity to use a phone on shabbos have this one in place.

      • You have no idea what you’re talking about. And you’re obviously too illiterate to read the article, which clearly says that this phone can NOT be used for “regular conversations”. It’s only for situations where Chazal relaxed the laws; if you’re not sure whether you’re in such a situation, ask a rov.

    4. It’s a very dangerous thing for Halacha. It’s an open door for Chillul Shabbes if used by wrong peoples and it will give bad ideas to people who are not frum yet (they may use it as an excuse to be mechallel shabbes).

      • Hmm, maybe it’s also a dangerous thing for halacha to allow driving someone to hospital on Shabbos, because maybe someone else will drive to the beach? And maybe it’s dangerous to allow someone to eat on Yom Kippur because others will also eat without a heter? The fact is that halacha sets guidelines and limits, and also lays out exceptions and sets different limits for those cases.

    5. As a former IDF soldier, I see a lot of misconceptions about the army coming through in a lot of the posts here. If is absolutely permissible to use phones, radios, car, jeeps etc. on Shabbat in the army if used in an operational fashion. To make sure that no one tries to get “too frum” about it and possibly endanger someones life inadvertently, the Rabanut is very clear in stressing that anything and everything may be done if it cold potentially save a life. If new technologies are coming out that allows religious soldiers to fulfill their duties to the fullest and make their (unavoidable) chillul Shabbat less severe, I say go for it.

    6. When people use phones in shul, to borrow from the song, g-d will say “..I’m kinda busyy”.. Next time there is a (summer) tragedy, think about this.

    7. while it is true that in a piukuach nefesh circumstance any phone must be used, their is also a concept that we try to minimie any issurim that must be violated, for example, if you had a starving person and you could either feed them meat from a non-kosher animal, one lav, or a cheeseburger made with the chelev of a treifa slaughtered by a jew on shabbos and contaning various, harmless, insects, quite a number more lavin, that all things being equal you are supposed to take the first optionn, if in a pikuach nefesh situation no time or effectiveness whatsoever will be lost by using a shinui than one should use a shinui. what it appears tzahal is trying to do is to minimize the prohibitions and avoid all melocho deoraysa, which in addition to being preferable to violating melachos deoraysa probably allows for greater ability to find kulos in a shas hadechak that isnt directly pikuach nefesh


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