This might seem as a naive question: If Hell is paused on Shabbos, what time-zone do they pick? Since there is a gate in Jerusalem, would it be it Israel time? If so Hell is not paused while Shabbos is being kept in other time-zones. Vice-versa if Hell is paused for the entirety of shabbos everywhere.

My assumption is that there is no regard for time-zones anywhere in the pre-Rishonim interpretation of the Torah (Zohar being anachronistic and belongs after the Rishonim). The reason is the "gates in the firmament" worldview from where the sun comes out simultaneously to all the earth. The earth being flat -resting on the Yam HaHadol (the lower waters)- and the firmament stretched from east to west, holding the higher waters.

I'm observant myself, I don't want to come out as condescending.

  • 1
    Whether or not the Rabbis in the time of the Talmud were aware of a dateline concept is debated. Listen here yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/858435/rabbi-daniel-stein/… for instance. I think you can reword this question without the assumptions (of ancient belief in a flat earth) and have more people appreciate it.
    – user6591
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 14:52
  • 2
    If "hell" is a concept, why can't it travel among the time zones and be considered paused for as long as it is Shabbat in your time zone at that time?
    – DanF
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


The rabbis knew that the Earth was curved during the time of the gemara. They also knew about time zones and the effect that it had. The usages of the gates was a metaphorical reference. They could tell it was curved because they could (as an example) see how sailing ships dropped "below the horizon. When dealing with times that would have a different halacha in any particular area (such as when Shabbas starts or what time to daven) they use local solar time.

When dealing with a conceptual matter that can only occur once, they would use Yerushalaim time as that is the central location for Hashem's presence as I explain below. Since Gehinnom is a conceptual situation rather than a fixed location, the time in Yerushalaim is used, as explained below.

Note that in the discussion of makas bechoros the question is asked "Why did Moshe Rabbeinu say about midnight when Hashem said at midnight. While there are other answers, one of them is that Hashem has set the "reference time" to Yerushalaim. As an example we see

Parshas Bo 11:14

Hashem's 'clock' is set to Jerusalem. The plague of the first-born took place at exactly midnight, Jerusalem time. But because Egypt is west of Jerusalem, midnight there occurs later. When Moshe said the plague would be at 'approximately midnight,' he was referring to local, Egyptian time.

(Kehillas Yitzchak; thanks to Rabbi Sholem Fishbane)

Even though this explanation may have been given later, it is an explanation of why Moshe Rabbeinu said "about". That is, it is stating that Moshe Rabbeinu knew about time zones and the effect that they had.

Similarly, when we announce the Molad for Birchas Hachodesh, we announce it according to Yerushalaim Solar Time and not the clock time of that time zone (which is 21 minutes later).

Of course, the statement of relief from Gehinnom is a conceptual one, but this is the basis for that.

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    "The rabbis knew that the Earth was curved during the time of the gemara. They also knew about time zones and the effect that it had." Source?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 16:44
  • @DoubleAA Time zones from the explanation of makas bechoros according to the two explanations that use them. Either that it was Yerushalaim time or that it started a the border of mitzraim and swept across the country as midnight moved. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 16:50
  • 2
    Are those explanations from the time of the gemara?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 16:53
  • @DoubleAA Earth curved because the curved picture of the moon that Rabban Gamliel used and the fact that the Greeks knew it an calculated it before the time of the gemara when the aggada was written down. The rabbis knew what the Greeks philosophers knew. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 16:54
  • @DoubleAA The meforshim are giving the explanation as to why Moshe Rabbeinu said "about" and therefore stating that he knew these facts. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 16:55

The soul of deceased is still linked to those of it's mourners, and the "rest" gehinom it gets on Shabbat parallels the time the mourners rest on the Shabbat (beause of this you have the custom of delaying Havdalah to give the deceased more "time off")

Hell is not a physical place. Time doesn't have the same (if any) meaning.

  • What if the mourners are in different places (as is often the case)?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 20:51
  • @DoubleAA it's easy! Time doesn't have the same meaning for the souls as it does for us. I'll give a mathematical example: Let's say S1 is the Shabbat time for Shimon and S2 is Shabbat time for Levi. They are both morning for Reuven. R is the time that Reuven is out of gehinom. f(x) is the function of the connection between Shimon and the soul of Reuven, g(x) is the function of the conection between Levi and Reuven. You have f(S1)=g(S2)=R :)
    – Binyamin
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 23:22

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