Halakhik Electronics In the IDF

The Halakha and Technology Unit develops electronic devices that can be used by observant soldiers on Shabbat

Date: 17/06/2010, 4:48 PM     Author: Arnon Ben-Dror

After numerous petitions from military rabbis and religious soldiers, Shabbat switches have been installed at 20 gates of the security fence in the Judea and Samaria region, which enable observant soldiers to open the gates on Shabbat without desecrating the holy day. These unique switches are only one part of a series of new developments aimed at the reduction of the number of Shabbat desecrations that the Halakha and Technology Unit, which was established about a year ago by the Military Rabbinate, is currently working on.

These indirect switches, which activate a delay mechanism between the pressing of the switch and the carrying out of the actual operation, are currently being installed at the gates of IDF (Zahal) bases that wish to participate. In addition, the Military Rabbinate has developed indirect electricity plugs which are expected to be installed on IDF (Zahal) bases within the next few weeks, and allow the connection of electric tools that need to be used urgently.

Another development of the Halakha and Technology Unit is the fridge-oven. Observant Israel Navy soldiers serving on boats during Shabbat, up until now could not eat hot meals for lunch on Shabbat. This was a problematic restriction, especially during the winter. When the new tool is introduced in a few months, the IN soldiers will be able to cook their food on Friday and put it into the fridge, which will then automatically turn into an oven for lunchtime on Shabbat.

“The army has been introducing a lot of electronic devices in recent years, and this requires us to give an Shabbat-appropriate alternative. When a soldier enters a security job, it is less of a problem religiously, the difficulty is when it is not a security related need,” explains Col. Eyal Karim, the commander of the Halakha and Technology Unit.

It has also been decided by the IDF (Zahal), that a halakhotechnic advisor will be assigned to every large construction project. This official will chart the needs and provide recommendations to the Military Rabbinate regarding what has to be done in order to allow operations on Shabbat.

Some of the other devices that the Military Rabbinate is currently developing to allow religious soldiers to observe Shabbat include automatic water pumps, indirect car engine starting mechanisms, special Shabbat keyboards, screens and mice for computers.