Volume 36 Number 56
                 Produced: Thu Jun 27  0:37:57 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kosher food, but what about Shabbat in space
         [Eli Lansey]
Kosher in space
         [Sam Saal]
Outer Space (2)
         [Carl Singer, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Shabbat in space (2)
         [Martin Edelstein, David Charlap]
zmanim in space
         [A. Seinfeld]


From: Eli Lansey <elansey@...>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 02:21:08 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Re: Kosher food, but what about Shabbat in space

There is no discussion in the Gemarah dealing with anything remotely
similar to this.  However, there are a number of different opinions
amoung the poskim regarding what to do in weird cases like this.

There are two basic 'normal' situations:
1) On Earth, just with funny time - without a sunrise/sunset cycle within
     24 hours.
2) On Earth, just altitude messes things up.

In case one, the generally accepted opinion is to calculate your
halachik time based on the last place where you were which had halachik
time.  So, for example, if one were traveling to the North Pole, one
would follow whatever time it was where there was last a sunrise/sunset
cycle within 24 hours. There are those, however, who pasken to accept
the times of the nearest Jewish community, and others who say to accept
the zmanim of the place from where the person left.

In case two, we are worried about the affects of altitude on halachik
time.  For example, if there were two towns, right next to each other,
but one was on top of a high cliff, and the other deep in a valley, the
town on the top of the cliff would see the sun rise and set much earlier
and later, respectively, than the town in the valley.  (If the
difference wasn't as sharp, but rather gradual, one could theoretically
'surf' on the edge of Shabbat by driving up a hill.)  This assumes that
one follows what he sees- if the sun is visible over the horizon, day
has started, when the sun sinks, evening has begun, etc.

Now comes the fun part: How does this have anything to do with space?!

Lets start with plane travel.  There are three major directions that the
poskim take.
A) Once one leaves Earth- no zmanim
B) Once on leaves Earth- zmanim of last zmanik place
C) It's irrelevent if one is above the Earth- do what you see.

A) would imply that as long as you are off of the Earth, there no need
to worry about zmanim. (This might solve a recurring issue that El Al
flight attendants regularly face.)  It is possible that R' Halperin
applied this concept to space travel.  However, it does not mean that he
rules this way regarding plane flight- there is a difference between
*really* off the Earth, and just sort of off the Earth.

B) This is also based on the assumption that if you leave Earth, your
zmanim stop, but instead of stopping fully like in A, you use the zmanim
of the place from which you left, just like in case 1.  (Or one of the
other 2 options there.)  This would apply to space travel in the same

C) seems to be the accepted custom of plane travelers.  It is most
likely based on 2 above, just instead of being on a hill, one is on a
'flying hill'.  So if one was flying from the US to Israel, he would
start davening shacharit when he saw the sun rise up over the horizon,
and daven mincha before the sun set over the horizon.  Now, if we apply
this to space travel: the Shuttle is essentially like a plane flying
around the Earth, just very high and very fast (I think each 'day'-
sunrise to sunrise, is 90 minutes).

This creates the Theory of Halachik Relativity.  Say one were to go into
orbit on the Shuttle on Sunday of the week leading into parshat
B'reishit.  630 minutes (10.5 hours) into the flight - 7 'days' later -
he would have to read parshat Noach, and 630 minutes later - etc.  Thus
one could create an even worse case than the Chu"l-Eretz Yisrael problem
of one week off- he could be half a year off!!!  (One could also toy
with such 'twin experiments' involving bar mitzvas, etc., and the old
joke regarding why there wasn't any frum astronauts: Shacharit, mincha,
maariv, shacharit, mincha, etc.)  ('A' might also create Relativistic
problems, just in the opposite direction- It depends if one continues
from where he was when he left, or just synchronizes with the Earth when
he lands.)

A and B raise the question of: What is considered *really* off the
Earth, and what is just sort of off the Earth.

One could try comparing this to an interesting artice written by R'
Goren regarding a man on the moon, where he said that such a person
would not be obligated in zmanim.  But I don't think that this is
comparable to orbit: The moon is another body entirely.  True that it
also orbits the Earth, but when one is on the moon, he doesnt really
feel that he is orbiting the Earth, rather that the Earth (and sun, etc)
are all moving around him.  However, in an orbiting Shuttle, one clearly
realizes that he is going around the Earth, seeing sunrises and sunsets
against the Earth's horizon, etc.  So it more closely resembles plane
travel than moon colonization.

It could be that once one is outside of the Earth's atmosphere he is no
longer considered on Earth.  (An interesting nafka minah would be those
planes that (are being designed that will) fly to the far reaches of the
atmosphere: If one considers the Shuttle to be like a plane, then those
would definitely be; But if one felt that the Shuttle was not a plane
then the high altitude plane would be a very interesting safek.)

Another measurement of the end of the Earth would be based on the
Relativity aspect, which would probably not apply to the months since
they are based on lunar and not solar cycles.  There is a precise limit
in days of how long months can be.  Since you clearly can't have 182
days (26 weeks), in one month, this might be the the boundry of *really*
off Earth.  This however would be tied to speed and not altitude.  (This
is comparable to 1: Just like you can't have just a fraction of day in a
month, so too you cant have too many days in a month.  And you therefor
apply either A or B.)

Basically- this is weird, but cool, stuff.  And I just want to point out
the tremendous Kiddush Hashem in public that all this is making.  Col.
Ramon has been quoted in fully secular international news sources,
'justifying' his halachik requests, as saying "I feel I am representing
all Jews..."



From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 08:56:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Kosher in space

<StephenColman2@...> (Stephen Colman) wrote:

>However, before you start quoting the personal opinions of various Rabbis
>- especially on Halochic issues - it is important to know exactly who
>these rabbis are.  Of the two Rabbis that the Sunday Telegraph quoted,
>I must point out that Jonathan Romain is the minister of the Maidenhead
>reform community.

Someone pointed this out in private email. I thought I made it clear
that I was quoting the article. I apologize if this was not clear.

Sam Saal         <ssaal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Pea haAtone


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 08:16:50 EDT
Subject: Re: Outer Space

      The situation of astronauts in space is similar to someone on a
      long submarine voyage.  Submarine crewmen do no usually even know
      their exact location (local time gets very complicated near the
      North Pole) and so all crewmen go by the local time of their last
      port.  According to astronaut William R. Pogue in his book "How Do
      You Go To The Bathroom In Space?" the astronauts use Central
      Standard Time for daily activities such a meals, waking up and
      going to bed, which is the same as that in Houston, Texas.  Being
      in a space shuttle or the International Space Station does not
      pose any special problems.  Things will get interesting when Jews
      start settling on a colony on Mars or any other planet with a time
      system separate from that of the Earth.

You'll recall that Jewish communities in extreme northern latitudes
often base their Shabbos calculations on a major city in a similar
longitude.  I.e. use London time if you're in Reykjavik, Iceland, to get
some semblance of "normal' licht benching, etc.

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahem@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 09:10:15 -0400
Subject: RE: Outer Space

>From: chihal <chihal@...>
>	Lastly, we are told "HaShamayeem Shamayeem LaHashem, ViHa'aretz
>natan leevnay adam." (The sky/heaven are God's, but Earth is given to
>Man.) That being the case, would not mankind be responsible solely for
>Earthly commandment

I think that the mention of shamayom and aretz here are not the literal
planet Earth and outer space.  It appears that this is the concept of
aretz being the physical unierse in which mankind lives while shamayim
is the spiritual world "inhabited" by the malachim and other spiritual
beings.  Thus, when traveling to the moon, the planets, or even other
stars, one would still be in "aretz".

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz - <sabbahem@...>


From: <Martin_Edelstein@...> (Martin Edelstein)
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 15:23:13 -0400
Subject: Re: Shabbat in space

I once spoke to my rabbi, Evan Radler, about Shabbat above the Arctic
Circle, where night lasts for several months, and about Shabbat in
space, where sunrise and sunset may be seen many times during the day.
It was his opinion that the times observed in the first case would be of
the nearest city that had a daily sunrise and sunset, and in the second
case of the locale at blast-off, or perhaps Houston.

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 10:47:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Shabbat in space

Bernard Raab wrote:
> It seems to me that we have two choices here: 1. We (ideally. our
> Rabbis) proclaim that shabbat does not apply in space travel (an
> astronaut on a mission to Mars, for example, will be in continuous
> sunlight for his entire trip, a period of years, and there are Earth
> orbits with the same characteristic),

This might make sense, but I don't think most Jews would accept it.
What observant Jew would forgo shabbat for months at a time for any

If the crew of the spacecraft are not obligated in Shabbat, would they
be prohibited from observing it anyway (using the ship's clock as a

I can see three reasons why you'd want to do this:
1: Tradition
2: So the crew doesn't forget about Shabbat during their trip
3: If this is a generational ship, then the children must learn about
    Shabbat so they'll be able to observe it when they become obligated

 > or 2. We proclaim (on what grounds
> I am not qualified to suggest) that a space traveller (or at least one
> who intends to return to Earth, I suppose) continue to observe shabbat
> on the same schedule as his Earthly base. This sort of "virtual shabbat"
> is what is generally suggested for visitors to the polar regions, where
> sunrise or sunset can occur once every few months, so there may be some
> precedent for this latter approach.

This is what I'd expect the obligation to be.

Another interesting question (which I think was already mentioned) is
what to do on other planets.

For instance, a Mars colony.  The same sun rises and sets every day, but
a day is approximately 30 minutes longer than on Earth.  It is certainly
possible to subdivide the daylight and night-time hours as on Earth to
computing times for services, but if you observe Shabbat every seventh
Mars-day, you'll soon get out of sync with Earth.  Maybe this doesn't
matter, or maybe leap-days should be inserted every few weeks in order
to re-sync Shabbat with Earth.

And the holidays become more problematic - a Mars-year is about twice as
long as an Earth-year.  And there are two moons - neither of which
orbits at a speed even similar to the orbit of Earth's moons.  So the
question of when to celebrate holidays becomes a very interesting

The same questions become even more interesting if you go to a planet
where the length of days and years are more different from Earth than
Mars.  Or on planets without moons.  Or if you're on a moon (of Earth or
of another planet.)

If you're just there for a short visit (like on the ISS), you can pretty
much wing it an use Earth time until you return.  But if you're in a
permanent colony, this isn't really a viable option.

And then there's the question of what about planets around other stars.
  Does a halachic day begin when the local sun rises, or when Earth's
  sun rises (which will appear as any other star in the sky.)

These are all real questions that will have to be worked out eventually. 
  We already have routine Earth-orbit space shuttle misions.  We will 
soon have routine missions to the ISS.  I think it won't be long before 
we begin working towards a permanent Mars colony.  And I don't think 
banning Jews from all these places, or suspending all time/calendar- 
based halachot are viable options.

-- David


From: A. Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 10:07:01 -0700
Subject: Re: zmanim in space

      I found this strange. I would have thought - as was discussed
      years ago in mail.jewish - that you pick a point on the globe and
      use that as a point of reference for your own time.. This is
      similar to what one must do at one of the poles on earth.

I think I heard from R. Y. Berkowitz that for the poles one would pick
the nearest community rather than an arbitrary point. This implies (it
seems to me) that a shuttle astronaut would go by the zmanim of Cape
Canaveral (or Miami).


End of Volume 36 Issue 56