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Peninei Halakha > Shabbat > 27 – Sick People and Saving Lives > 17. Mobile Phones and Weapons Necessary for Health and Security

17. Mobile Phones and Weapons Necessary for Health and Security

In an area enclosed by an eruv, emergency medical professionals and volunteers who always carry beepers or cell phones may carry these devices on Shabbat. Similarly, one who always carries a pistol or rifle may carry it on Shabbat. Muktzeh is not an issue, because many maintain that a pistol is a kli she-melakhto le-heter, since its purpose is defense and deterrence. Similarly, since a two-way radio is designed to help save lives, it is also a kli she-melakhto le-heter. A cell phone is used primarily for calls that are unrelated to saving lives, so it is a kli she-melakhto le-isur. Nevertheless, one may carry such an object to use it le-tzorekh gufo, and therefore it may be carried to save lives.

However, in an area without an eruv, one should not carry these items. When there are life-saving reasons for people to remain close to weapons and communication devices in case of emergency, they may carry these items to places where one normally goes on Shabbat, such as to prayers and celebrations. If we do not allow this, no one will volunteer to undertake security and rescue efforts. In general, this consideration is used to permit rabbinic transgressions. Only under very pressing circumstances is it permitted for one to transgress Torah prohibitions (see above, n. 12). Therefore, one should carry the two-way radio with a shinui (for example, under one’s shirt), which makes the transgression rabbinic. However, one should carry the gun normally, because it would be dangerous to carry it with a shinui. Additionally, some maintain that for security personnel, a weapon is not considered something that is carried, but an article of clothing that is worn.[18]

However, one may not carry a gun or a two-way radio on Shabbat for the sake of a leisurely stroll to a place with no eruv. Thus, one should not take a walk outside the eruv in an area where he must be armed for security reasons, as this will require people to carry weapons needlessly.

If a soldier wants to leave his base in order to participate in prayer services taking place in a nearby community, and he will need to pass through an area with no eruv to get there, after he leaves the base he should rest his gun and two-way radio on a mekom petur. He should then carry the items from there to the community. He should do this on his way back as well, as explained above in 21:7.

Regarding putting out a dangerous fire, see 16:6-7 above. Regarding alarm systems, see 17:15 above.

[18]. R. Goren writes that a gun is a kli she-melakhto le-heter, because it is meant to save lives (Meshiv Milĥama 2:61). This is also the opinion of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, who maintains that guns, beepers, and hand-held computers (containing medical information that a doctor needs) are not muktzeh (Shulĥan Shlomo 2:308:16; Nishmat Avraham 301:19 and n. 6). A mobile phone, which is used primarily for everyday purposes, is a kli she-melakhto le-isur (above, 23:8). However, one may carry it to use it le-tzorekh gufo, like calling for help if necessary.According to the Sages in the Mishna (Shabbat 63a), a sword and a bow are not considered ornamental, but rather they are considered shameful, because in the prophesied future, “no one will study war” (Yeshayahu 2:4). Therefore one may not bear them on Shabbat. R. Eliezer disagrees, saying they are considered ornamental, and one may go out carrying them on Shabbat. SA 301:7 rules in accordance with the Sages. However, AHS 301:7 makes the innovative claim that soldiers may go with weapons on their bodies because the weapon is part of their clothing. R. Goren writes that one may rely upon this rationale if there is a great need to do so (Meshiv Milĥama 2:61). Therefore, when there is a need for some people to have weapons close at hand, but people will hesitate to volunteer to bear weapons unless we permit them to attend the synagogue and celebrations, it is preferable that they bear weapons in their belt as they n

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The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
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