The mitvah talks about ensuring every soldiers have a spade to cover their excrement.

The mitvah seems to be pretty obsolete because by now we have toilets all over the place.

So, how it's done?

Do IDF soldiers carry spade anyway and simulate covering after flushing the toilet? What?

It's talked about here


Okay maybe some says that the command is obsolete due to our technology. However, there is nothing around the commandment that says that it should be obeyed till, say, the invention of toilet.

In fact, there are verses that suggest that most mitvahs should be done till the end of time.

So how does that mitzvah done by IDF and why?

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    I have heard Phil Chernofsky say that when he would go on IDF reserve duty, he'd bring a small shovel with him to fulfill this mitzva.
    – Isaac Moses
    Aug 14, 2014 at 13:14
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    As I understand it, many armies issue their combat troops an entrenching tool, which is basically a collapsible spade/shovel. The IDF might do so too.
    – Tamir Evan
    Aug 14, 2014 at 13:26
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    I challenge your assumption that toilets are readily available in war zones...
    – Double AA
    Aug 14, 2014 at 13:50
  • One thing for sure is I do not think any IDF soldiers will "go out of camp" when taking a dump and dig hole and latter cover it. Doing so will open them to enemies' fire, etc. So this mitvah is definitely not done the way it's intended.
    – user4951
    Aug 15, 2014 at 14:08

2 Answers 2


The English term for this tool is an entrenching tool. Here it is described as standard issue gear for a paratrooper in the IDF.

As far as I know, it is pretty standard, when required, for soldiers in most any modern army.

I suppose we could speculate if the Torah requires a soldier to carry one even if it isn't technically needed (just in case ...) or if that requirement is only in situations where an established outhouse is not within range.

Modern water toilets really have nothing to do with the need for an entrenching tool, it is rather the lack of a stable, already dug location, which is called an outhouse in English.

In any event, IDF behavior only conforms to Halacha to the degree that politics in Israel requires/promotes it so the fact that the IDF does or does not issue them in certain circumstances is not an indication of what Jewish Law would require.

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    re your last paragraph: I'm sure the Rabbanut Tzvait has an opinion on this which has influenced policy or at least created allowances and guidelines for those who want to fulfill the Mitzva. It's not just politics. Is the IDF's kashering kitchens for pesach just politics?
    – Double AA
    Aug 14, 2014 at 14:45
  • @DoubleAA, My point wasn't that an individual soldier can or can't keep Halacha, rather that IDF policy isn't reliable to follow it. The Rabbanut Tzvait doesn't have a final say in any requirement if they make a determination that it is Halachicly mandated, so my point is that IDF policy is not indicative of Halacha, even if Halacha is one of its influences.
    – Yishai
    Aug 14, 2014 at 14:49
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    @DoubleAA, the IDF's service of Kosher food at all is a decision made by the political process - my secular Zionist grandfather opposed it tremendously on cost grounds, as did some politicians at the time. I didn't say "just politics", I was just correcting the impression that the IDF is an organization that can be presumed to follow Halacha instead of investigating its motivation for a behavior or non-behavior.
    – Yishai
    Aug 14, 2014 at 15:39
  • @DoubleAA I served part of my time in the Rabbanut. You'd be surprised (as I was and most religious people outside of "the system" are) what is and what isn't paskened based on politics. More specifically, the Rabbanut can have guidelines for a wide range of subjects (anything that has to do with the IDF's daily and emergency needs) but chooses what to make public and what not based on a number of different Halachic and non-Halachic variables.
    – Harel13
    Sep 22, 2020 at 10:16

One thing that seems to have been overlooked by both the OP and the other, highly upvoted answer, is that the article that the OP cites for the explanation of this Mitzvah already answered the question. It seems, though I don't have an additional source offhand, that this Mitzvah only applies in Temple times (SPECULATION: since it is not a Mitzvah about cleanliness and health, but rather one of spiritual cleanliness fit for G-d's presence, also as indicated in the cited article).

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