Are there any Shabbat restrictions in the army during basic training? If this is only basic training and not war-time is this still considered pekuach-nefesh?

  • Are you referring to the IDF or the American Army?
    – Meir
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 22:02
  • I had the IDF in mind when asking the question, but would be interested to know if the answer would be different if it was the army of any other country
    – Ken
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 23:00
  • Most impotent advice: go to synagogue and get familiar with the base military Rabbi. These Rabbies has the experience, the tools and the connection to the base personal to help you out there. Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 17:13

2 Answers 2


The general rule of thumb for shabbat is that any action required for security related reasons (operation of jeeps, radio check ins, patrols, etc) during the week should be performed on shabbat as well.

I.E. you shouldn't be lowering the level of security because it's shabbat.

There are standing orders at all levels in the IDF which prevent the giving of orders that violate shabbat in non life saving matters. Having said that, if your commander isn't knowledgeable in hilchot Shabbat, you may have issues. These should of course be preferably anticipated before shabbat and discussed in a non confrontational manner.

This is based on what I learnt from my Rabbanim at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Rav B Gigi/Rav Y Rimon) during a pre-army series of shiurim.

Practically speaking, Basic Training isn't purely training. It involves protecting the base from real threats and while you're unlikely to invade Ramallah there will be plenty of guard duty in all sorts of places which require protection.

I imagine that it would be next to impossible to keep Shabbat in any army other than the IDF, simply because much of Basic Training can't be justified as pikuach nefesh on shabbat.

Of course, anyone intending to keep Shabbat and other halachot in the army should find a Rabbi familiar with the halachic challenges of being in the IDF and talk with them beforehand. I'm sure any Hesder Yeshiva or Mechina would be happy to help.

All IDF units have a Rabbi who can provide a well written pocket sized book (in hebrew only) with lots of tips, halachot and numbers to call if you have a question.


  • welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for sharing the benefit of your Hesder training!
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 14:31
  • "There are standing orders at all levels in the IDF which prevent the giving of orders that violate Shabbat in non life saving matters." Lovely. But in practice, if you're not in a Hesder or charedi unit, you're constantly dealing with Shabbos desecration. If you have reservists spending Shabbos up on a remote outpost, they will invariably be convinced that just about everything is pikuach nefesh. Oy vavoy if you dare to say something like, "It's probably okay to bring food supplies out in the jeep, but not a supply of fresh newspapers." So what happens if you're the driver, say? Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 14:42

The Chofetz Chaim wrote A Sefer called Machane Yisroel which includes all the Halachos of a Jewish soldier that is in the army.



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