Recently there appeared a news article that on Israeli army bases in the dining room signs that were placed by the military rabbinate requesting soldiers not to smoke or use their cell phones in that room on Shabat were to be removed. The officer who gave that order stated that he couldn’t find any place in the regulations that stopped soldiers from their rights and freedoms and thus forbidding them to smoke or use cellphones on Shabat was not legal. What about the rights of the Tora observant soldier?
My first reaction to that news was not to believe what I was reading. Was this a news item about the Israeli army? It sounded like it was from the Saudi Arabian army or from the Iranian army. Could that really be what was ordered? Isn’t this Israel, the Jewish homeland? Isn’t this where Jews lived and could observe Shabat without having to endure a Chilul (desecration of) Shabat? Did the offending officer search the regulations listed in the Tora which supercede army regulations (except in case of a life or death situation)?
Even if most of the soldiers aren’t observant can’t they respect the Shabat which has saved so many of our people and is the mainstay of our religion? If even one soldier on the base is Tora observant shouldn’t the rules of a Jewish army accommodate him? Why can’t the non-observant soldier step outside to smoke or make a call? That’s what he would have to do if he was in a movie theater.
The lack of respect shown by the above officer’s action is akin to why the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed–people didn’t respect other’s rights/feelings and hated them for no reason. It’s time that Israel voided that despicable order and returned the signs so that even an army base can have a bit of Shabat atmosphere despite the fact that most soldiers aren’t Tora observant.