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Shabbat and guard duty

Rabbi David SperlingElul 18, 5772
1149
Question
I am a security guard that sometimes works at the gate to the Yishuv on Shabbat. Many times I am confonted with various situations where I don’t know if I should violate the Shabbat for this or not. I will list them all here as best I can. If the cell phone that we use for contact with the Hamal is almost dead should I charge it? It’s important to note that the guard that is working when Shabbat starts should have charged it before hand but he didn’t. What if the cb radio which allows us to hear what is going on is not on the charger where it should be? This allows us to hear what is going on as well as communicate with everyone if necessary which is usually in times of various levels of emergency. Also this should be left by the guard on the charger before Shabbat. It’s important to note that the device was not alerting me that it was almost dead but in case of emergency there will not be time to leave it on the charger as I will have to use it. What if a soldier asks me to contact the patrol (siur) but it’s clear to me that he just wants a free ride from the patrol which he would get during the week. He is secular and it’s clear that he is actually supposed to walk to his destination on the other side of the Yishuv. There is supposed to be a contact check once an hour but for some reason the Hamal has not done any checks for 4 hours but 15 minutes before Shabbat has ended they decide to do a check. Should I answer? I am fairly certain if an ambulance or a van that transports doctors and nurses to the hospital (and anything like this) comes, that I should open the gate for them(which works on electricity), however what about when a secular person comes who is violating the Shabbat? What should I do? Sometimes it’s to visit people in the Yishuv and sometimes it’s to visit people on the Army base next door. I will usually force them to drive on the other side of the road, but this is still telling them where to go on Shabbat and it is lengthening their travel in the car. These are only the ones that I can think of off hand. Please help me with what to do in these situations.
Answer
Shalom, Firstly, let me apologize for the delay in answering - there have been some technical problems on the site, and I have only just received your question. It is wonderful to receive your question which shows so much love for the Shabbat, as well as strengthening the holy settlements in the land of Israel and guarding them. May I suggest that you approach the Rabbi of the Yishuv and let him guide you in your job. It is certainly appropriate for the Rabbi of each city to define the halacha as it applies to his town's reality. Also it is not clear if you are working as a soldier in the army, or at least in conjunction with the army who also guard the settlement, or if it is entirely a private security company. If the army is involved I strongly recommend that you get in touch with the army Rabbanut as they are very happy to help in such situations. If however you cannot do this for some reason, here are some guidelines:- 1."If the cell phone that we use for contact with the Hamal is almost dead should I charge it?" - if there is a chance (even a small one) that the phone will be needed, one should make sure it is charged. The phone should be connected to the charger with a shinuy (i.e. with a change, such as using the back of one's hand). I assume that one cannot just use one's own (charged) phone, as the Hamal needs to see which phone number is calling them, and because the phone numbers are already in the designated phone. Of course one should make every effort to make sure the phone is charged before Shabbat so as to avoid this situation - perhaps you could telephone the guard on duty Friday afternoon to remind him to charge the phone. 2. "What if the CB radio which allows us to hear what is going on is not on the charger where it should be?" Here too you should insert the CB into the charger with a shinuy. Also, the same efforts should be made to ensure that this is done before Shabbat. Perhaps, if the phone call idea does not work, someone from the settlement could take on this task every Friday afternoon. 3. "What if a soldier asks me to contact the patrol (siur) but it’s clear to me that he just wants a free ride from the patrol which he would get during the week." One is not allowed to break Shabbat just for the convenience of a non-religious soldier. 4. "There is supposed to be a contact check once an hour but for some reason the Hamal has not done any checks for 4 hours but 15 minutes before Shabbat has ended they decide to do a check. Should I answer?" It seems that yes you should answer. The security checks are for the purpose of security - and if you do not answer, the security of the Yishuv will be at risk, as they will have to spend time and effort to come and see why you are not answering. Also it could cause them to be less alert in a (G-d forbid) real situation where you don't answer because of a real problem. They may be fooled into thinking that "he's just not answering because it's Shabbat", when you really would need their immediate help. You should answer with a shinuy, that is by pushing the buttons with the back of your hand etc. However, after Shabbat you should try to inform those in charge that the checks should be done at the proper times. 5. "however what about when a secular person comes who is violating the Shabbat? [should I open the electric gate]?" I spoke to Rabbi Ayal Krem, one of the major poskim in the army, who told me that in the army the Rabbanut's ruling on this issue is not to open the electric gates in such a case, but to let the secular driver come and open the gate himself. Another alternative is to leave the gate half open during Shabbat, and close the open part with a moveable barricade. Then the guard can just move aside the barricade for all cars that come into the settlement, after checking them. Of course this would have to be approved by the security authorities of the settlement. If you do open an electric gate on Shabbat you should do so with a shinuy. May you be blessed to be a partner with the Holy One who guards all Israel.
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