Shabbat candles 20,000 leagues under the sea

Israeli developer releases halachic electric Shabbat lights that meet safety standards that prohibit naked flames on military submarines.

March 10, 2016 14:22
1 minute read.

Lee-Ner electric Shabbat lights. (photo credit: COURTESY ZOMET INSTITUTE)

Dwelling in the ocean’s depths for weeks at a time as a crew-member of an Israel Navy submarine entails restrictions on everyday and Sabbath activities that landlubbers take for granted.

For example, how does a submariner light Shabbat candles on board when having an open flame is forbidden? Now the Zomet Institute, which provides technological solutions to problems dealing with the use of electricity on the Sabbath that accord with Jewish law (Halacha), has found a solution.

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The halacha research center in Alon Shvut says that it’s recently released Lee-Ner electric Shabbat lights comply with the requirements of Jewish law to light candles Friday night yet avoid any safety concerns that the use of a naked flame entails.

The organization explains that the device utilizes a small incandescent light-bulb, which in Halacha is considered akin to fire and is therefore permissible, in necessary circumstances, to substitute for the flame of a wax candle.

Because Lee-Ner uses a battery rather than the electrical mains, and because the plastic covering of the bulb is transparent, one may recite the blessing for lighting Shabbat candles when using the device.

According to Zomet, a grandmother with two grandchildren serving in the Israeli navy’s submarine fleet recently asked the organization how they could fulfill Judaism’s requirement to light Shabbat candles.

The institute recommended the new electric Shabbat light-bulbs, and she ordered pairs for her grandchildren.

Both have since used them to mark the beginning of the Sabbath while serving 20,000 leagues under the sea, or thereabouts.

IDF soldiers wishing to light Shabbat lights while in tents or military quarters where candles may not be lit have also requested the new device.

Ner-Lee was initially designed to be used in hotels and hospitals where lighting candles in one’s room is often restricted due to fire hazard.

Developers at Zomet add that lighting Shabbat lights in a hotel lobby is less desirable from a halachic point of view, and say that hotel guests could instead “light” the Lee- Ner device in their room.

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