Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This week, the island of Samoa is switching time zones, causing it to skip from Thursday directly to Saturday. Out of simple curiosity, what implications might this have on any Jews on the island? Since one cannot "jump" into the middle of Shabbat, does that mean all observant Jews would have to leave the island?

share|improve this question
In my opinion the most intriguing question asked on this forum ever – simchastorah Dec 29 '11 at 5:10
Could I +100 this? – Hacham Gabriel Dec 29 '11 at 5:12
I think the halachic date line is independent of the secular date line, in which case, this change cannot move Shabbos, but of course I don't know enough to answer. – jake Dec 29 '11 at 5:15
I would say CYLOR... but I'm not sure if there are any in Samoa! – Dave Dec 29 '11 at 5:22
This question is now the highest-voted to date. – Isaac Moses Dec 30 '11 at 3:44
up vote 45 down vote accepted

The civil date line doesn't affect the Halachic day with regards to Shabbos.

Where is the location date line is subject to Halachic argument

According to the Chazon Ish, the Halachic dateline hugs the coast of Australia, China and Russia. Anything to the east (Japan, etc) is considered to be on the same day as the United States. Therefore, it's Shabbos in Japan on their Sunday.

Samoa used to have Shabbos on Saturday (like Hawaii). Now it will be pushed off a day (to be like) Japan and have it on Sunday.

According to R' Tukachinsky, the halachic date line is between Hawaii and California. Therefore, Hawaii is on the Japanese side and Shabbos is on their Friday.

Samoa used to have Shabbos on Friday (like Hawaii). Now it will be pushed off a day to Saturday.

There are other opinions that it runs straight through the middle of the Pacific, though there are arguments of exactly where does it run.

share|improve this answer
Then there's also the opinion of R. M.M. Kasher (described here), that there is no date line - each place just follows the direction from which its earliest Shabbos-observant settlers came. In that case, then, its Shabbos would presumably continue to be at the same time as that of the U.S. (i.e., its new Sunday). – Alex Dec 29 '11 at 5:31
I don't have a citation readily available, but many American poskim allow Jews to visit Hawaii and keep Fri night / Sat night as shabbos. A minority suggest that Jews should not do melacha d'oraisa from Thurs night to Fri night on the islands of Aloha. Ditto Japan, not doing melacha d'oraisa from Sat night to Sun night. – user1095 Dec 29 '11 at 17:43
BTW, I heard that when Mir was in Japan during WW2, they kept Shabbos and Yom Kippur for two days (one Halachically and one Lechumra). Lubavitch IIRC, kept Shabbbos on Saturday like the latter two opinions. – Shmuel Brin Dec 29 '11 at 18:21
@Alex Samoa's earliest settlers kept Shabbat like Australia. It was switched to USA in 1892. see staff.science.uu.nl/~gent0113/idl/idl_alaska.htm – Double AA Dec 29 '11 at 19:09
Nice answer and all... but nobody in Japan keeps Shabbat on Sunday, and nobody in HAwaii keeps Shabbat on Friday. – avi Dec 29 '11 at 19:25

The question of where the Halachic International Dateline is is its own independent question. The decision in Samoa would only matter if we left date-line issues to governmental/secular authorities, which is not the case. The day to keep Shabbos in Samoa would be seven days from the last time it was to be kept, according to which ever opinion we should/do go by.

share|improve this answer
But what if Shabbath has never been kept there (or has not been kept there since whatever year the last Jew to ever dwell/visit there left)? Do we go by that person, or do we go by what Samoa decides for itself? What if, perhaps, all this time it was in the wrong time zone and now it's moving into the correct one (from the perspective of Halachah)? – Seth J Dec 29 '11 at 17:36
My point was that whatever the halachic process used to determine the date of Shabbos for the "week before", whether in theory or in practice, remains unchanged by an arbitrary change by the the govn. There may be different opinions about which day that is, but seven days later would constitute Shabbos according to which ever opinion. – Yirmeyahu Dec 30 '11 at 4:31

It seems The Star K picked up on the question: How to Keep This Shabbos in Samoa? STAR-K Tells Us How (Samoa & Tokelau To Cross International Date Line)

share|improve this answer
This Shabbath matters, of course, but I think the question was also about long-term implications. – Seth J Dec 30 '11 at 5:04
The short answer (my summary of this article) is that since "According to almost all opinions, the Halachic Dateline is not determined by what the locals call 'Saturday,'" Shabbat the week of the time change (shabbat B) will start exactly 7 days after the start of the previous shabbat (shabbat A), and shabbat the week after the time change (shabbat C) will start exact exactly 7 days after the start of shabbat B. There's longstanding complication caused by the fact that the Chazon Ish and R' Tukachinsky disagree about what day Shabbat is to begin with, but this new change doesn't affect that. – Chanoch May 13 '12 at 14:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.