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.”
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.
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
can i use this for business on shabos?
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 !
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).
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.
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.
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