Take the 2-minute tour ×
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.

I understand that Jewish astronauts have been advised to observe Shabbat by Cape Canaveral time, by analogy with traveling to a place that doesn't have daily sunrise/sunset where some rule you use the last place you were that did. But this seems to describe a temporary journey, such as a shuttle flight. What is the rule if one is living in space for an extended time? Edit: Would each individual determine his own time (if it's based on home/departure city), or would the community living there determine a time together to reduce the chaos of varied Shabbat times in the same place?

(This is related to this question and this question, but these questions are about earthly sunset-less days, which might be different.)

share|improve this question
2  
Maybe shabbat doesn't apply in space. In fact, maybe mitzvot don't apply there. I remember seeing an article where the author suggested (semi-seriously) that the source for mitzvot outside of Israel is a passuk which says "adama", and therefor might does not include outer space. CYLOR before grabbing a ham sandwich though;) –  Ariel K Aug 3 '11 at 22:23
    
I'm not sure why nobody does this, but if I was asked this question, I would first look up what Astronauts do, and how they set time for their sleep cycle. –  avi Aug 4 '11 at 7:59
    
@Avi, the link to Ohr Somayach reports what was done for shuttle astronauts. Is the timing of their sleep cycle relevant for figuring out when the halachic day begins? –  Monica Cellio Aug 4 '11 at 14:15
    
I would think so. It's how we decide when kriyat shmah and other halachot are done. The Ohr Somayach link was third hand knowledge, not very reliable to be honest. It sounds like they did use the day to day life cycle of the Astronaut for the decision, since the astornaut was going from and coming to florida. –  avi Aug 4 '11 at 19:50
1  
Went looking for that kuntros, and found this website ...looks like a good resource for questions like these ;) –  Shokhet May 25 at 4:08
show 5 more comments

3 Answers

Again. If living someplace where there is no concept of sunrise/sunset at all, the opinions are:

  • Follow your hometown
  • Follow the last normal place you'd been (in this case, Florida)
  • Follow Jerusalem
  • Follow an artificial 6AM-6PM clock, using whatever timezone you have.
share|improve this answer
1  
Does it change if you take up residence there? Would a space colony be expected to settle on a single community standard, or would you have American and Chinese and Russian astronauts following different standards in the same place (which sounds impractical)? –  Monica Cellio Aug 3 '11 at 16:37
    
@Monica, the practicality of any solution in that eventuality is essentially irrelevant right now, given the number of places on the globe that presently have Halacha-followers in space. If it ever becomes an issue, the practical solution will probably involve everyone up there agreeing to ask one rabbi, and that rabbi coming up with a solution that makes practical sense. –  Isaac Moses Aug 3 '11 at 17:42
1  
@Monica, why should a space colony be more homogeneous than us Earthlings? :) –  YDK Aug 3 '11 at 19:46
1  
@YDK, fair enough, but at least in any given city everybody agrees, within an hour or so, when Shabbat is. Things might get trickier if within a single "city" in space you've got a 12-hour spread based on hometowns. So they should just agree on Jerusalem or 6AM-6PM days, if they could actually agree on anything. :-) –  Monica Cellio Aug 3 '11 at 20:36
1  
@tomsmith, see star-k.org/kashrus/kk-whendoesonepraywhenthereisnoday.htm . "Hometown" is Tiferes Yisrael; 6-6 is Ben Ish Chai. Jerusalem and last-normal-place visited were also given as answers (don't recall by whom) when Ilan Ramon ah's asked. (I think I saw that one in jpost a while ago.) Last-normal-place visited is similar to "closest-normal-place", which is what someone online said was RM"F's answer in one instance. (Again that's hearsay) ... this is fun as the South Pole would, depending on your rabbi, follow either Jerusalem or Christchurch! –  Shalom Sep 19 '11 at 2:55
show 1 more comment

Based on this article: I would say that people in the ISS would keep Shabbat based on the location of the place they will be landing when they come back, or based on the location of the earth crew that is working with them. This is how the people aboard the ISS mantain their daily lives, and it would be peculiar to do it another way.

share|improve this answer
add comment

You might first ask, Rabbi Ben-Zion Firrer asked, whether the mitzvahs are required at all in space. After all, the Torah says that you should do the commandments "all of the days which you are alive on this earth" (Deut. 12:1), maybe we aren't obligated to perform the commandments in space or on the moon. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, in an interview published in HaZofeh (and republished in J.David Bleich, Contemporary Halakik Problems, Vol. I, at 211) reasoned that since one cannot survive in the environment of space without bringing earthly oxygen and water with him, he is still "on this earth" for purposes of this, now, very real discussion.

The simple answer is that when outside of the earth's atmosphere, normal measures of time, such as sunrise and sunsets, and lunar rotations that help us count the months, are useless. Therefore, one would designate the time and calendar events that occur in his home port, e.g. Houston or Cape Canaveral. One would do much the same thing if going to the North or South Pole. Much of Rabbi Bleich's article is available on Google Books. Also see the Keren B'Yavneh website which has some papers on the subject, although I don't think any are in English.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

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.