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Friday, January 1, 2010

When Does Shabbos End at Sea?

The Israel Navy this week completed its 96th submarine training course, with the new graduates receiving the rank of sergeant after a difficult 16 months of training, now certified to man and run a naval submarine. According to a report, there are a number of shomer shabbat sailors included in this graduating class, and their new lifestyle, like many other soldiers in an array of IDF units, compels rabbonim to probe different aspects of halacha, such as when does shabbos end in a submarine far out at sea.

Members of many IDF units have indeed addressed such questions, especially the graduates of the mechina pre-IDF yeshivot, which place an emphasis on shmirat shabbat in combat situations, and there have been seforim published over the past two decades addressing the halachic difficulties encountered by infantry and other soldiers who may find themselves in combat positions, but not necessarily pikuach nefesh, having to learn how one observes shabbos under such conditions.

The Mechinot boast graduates in all branches of the military, land, sea and air, and the schools provide a rabbinical base for soldiers and officers to contact to address practical day-to-day halachic questions that arise.

Of course the same holds true for hesder soldiers, who generally come with a more grounded yeshiva education. What separates and perhaps facilitates the service of hesder soldiers is the fact that they serve in segregated units, with one another, while mechina soldiers are integrated into the general military population. (Original News)