How do you fly a spaceship on Shabbat?

It’s Shabbat eve for the Beresheet lunar lander, Israel’s first spacecraft, which is on track to land on the moon on April 11. How will the first Jewish spacecraft be operated on Shabbat without violating Jewish law?

Arutz Sheva interviewed staff members of Beresheet who are involved in the research, consultation and technology needed to minimize the violation of Shabbat while simultaneously ensuring the continued safety of the spacecraft

According to Beresheet system engineer, Ariel Gomez, the staff consulted their advisor on Jewish law, Rabbi Shraga Dahan, on how to operate the Beresheet on Shabbat. Furthermore, all their Shabbat procedures to maintain Beresheet have been approved by the chief rabbi of Israel.

“The head of staff of Beresheet is a Chabad chassid and avoiding the violation of Shabbat is very important to him,” Gomez said. “The launch of Beresheet itself was pushed back to Thursday so it wouldn’t take place on Shabbat. In fact, in our contract with the American company, there’s a clause that the launch won’t take place on Shabbat.”

“The chief of staff wants to connect all sectors of the Jewish people. We see Beresheet’s mission as a mission of the entire Jewish people and therefore it’s very important to us that there won’t be any procedures on Shabbat there were not approved by the chief rabbi. We used technological innovations designed for us by Machon Lev (Jerusalem College of Technology) and approved by the chief rabbi. Machon Lev provided us with keyboards and mice which can be operated through a Grama (an indirect action which involves a less serious violation of Shabbat). Additionally, we instructed the staff to do only what is strictly necessary to ensure the safety of Beresheet on Shabbat and no more.”

Rabbi Shraga Dahan said that “working with the staff of Beresheet has been a wonderful experience. I feel as I’m dealing with heavenly matters in the double meaning of the word. When I see the Jewish people involved with the Beresheet, it fills me with meaning. We were able to successfully adjust the environment to suit the lifestyle of each staff member involved with Beresheet. We can truly be proud of the Jewish nation.”


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