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    I. Shabbos Clothes
    We greet Shabbos
    and spend the entire
    day clean and proper,
    dressed in fine clothes.
    What do you do if you
    have to wear an army
    uniform? The Gemara
    (Shabbos 119a) says that R. Chanina and R.
    Yannai would wear special clothes to greet
    Shabbos. The Gemara (Shabbos 113b)
    quotes Naomi’s instruction to Rus: “And
    you shall bathe, and anoint yourself, and
    put on your dress” (Ruth 3:3). R. Eliezer
    explains that Naomi told Rus to wear her
    Shabbos clothes.
    Based on the above, Shulchan Aruch
    (Orach Chaim 262:2) rules that you should
    strive to have special, nice clothes set aside
    for Shabbos. If not, you should at least make
    your regular clothes look nice. What do you
    do if you are in the army? Obviously, if you
    are in the midst of combat or a mission
    with limited supplies, your military task
    takes precedence. But there are many times
    in the army, probably the majority of a
    tour of duty, in which you have the ability
    to think about what clothes to wear on
    Shabbos. What do you do if you are limited
    to your army uniform? Additionally, what
    if wearing your army uniform involves
    II. Civilian Patrol
    Rav Yishmael Ha-Cohen, the late
    eighteenth century halachic authority in
    Italy, was asked about a city in which all
    men were required to spend time on guard
    duty (Zera Emes, vol. 3 no. 32). They were
    assigned nights on which they had to patrol
    through the city carrying a sword or a gun
    (which I assume the questioner means when
    he refers to a “fire stick”). When a Jew is
    assigned a Friday night, obviously he may
    not carry the sword or gun where there is no
    eruv but is he allowed to wear the sword or
    gun in a scabbard or holster?
    The questioner points out that the Mishnah
    (Shabbos 60a) says that a man may not go
    out on Shabbos wearing shiryon (a coat
    of mail), kasda (leather hat worn under a
    metal helmet) or magafayim (leg armor). R.
    Nissim of Gerona (Ran, 14th cen., Spain)
    explains that this is forbidden even though
    you are wearing them because it looks like
    you are going out to war (commentary to
    Rif, Shabbos 27a s.v. shiryon). So too,
    these guards are not trained for combat
    and are not expected to fight anyone, just
    to carry weapons as a deterrent. But even
    if the guards wear the weapons, they seem
    to fall under this same prohibited category

    as body armor. Rav Yishmael Ha-Cohen
    replies that there is no room to permit this
    and the Jewish community should push for
    a religious exemption for Shabbos.
    III. Saber Warfare
    About a century later, Rav Simcha
    Bamberger (19th cen., Germany, son of the
    Wurzburger Rav) was asked about a soldier
    who has to present himself in dress uniform
    on Shabbos (Zeicher Simcha, no. 35). The
    dress uniform includes a ceremonial saber
    in a scabbard, neither of which he is allowed
    to remove. Is he permitted to walk outside
    without an eruv in his uniform including
    the saber? On the one hand, Shulchan
    Aruch (Orach Chaim 301:7) clearly says
    that you may not go outside with a sword,
    bow or shield. Rav Bamberger argues that
    since this soldier is forbidden by regulation
    from removing the sword, it is considered
    either clothing or jewelry.
    Additionally, he compares the ceremonial
    saber to the green Jewish circle (the
    precursor to the yellow Jewish star) that
    some Medieval authorities required Jews
    to wear. Rema (ad loc., par. 23) permits
    wearing a green circle even if it is not sewn
    to clothing because people will not remove
    and carry it out of fear of the authorities.
    Similarly, Rav Bamberger argues, a Jewish
    soldier may wear his saber because he
    is likewise scared of punishment if he
    removes and carries it. Rema (ibid.,
    304:1) forbids a servant to wear a metal
    identification plate, even though he is
    scared of being punished for losing it.
    Eliyahu Rabbah (ad loc., no. 8) says that
    this only applies in an area where carrying
    is biblically forbidden. Rav Bamberger
    says that since nowadays all (or nearly all)
    places are only rabbinically forbidden, it
    would be allowed. Similarly, a soldier
    who is scared to lose his ceremonial
    saber should be allowed to wear it. For all
    these reasons combined, Rav Bamberger
    permits a soldier to wear his ceremonial
    saber inside its scabbard. Rav Bamberger
    does not necessarily disagree with Rav
    Yishmael Ha-Cohen since the former
    discusses a sword that is not supposed
    to be removed while the latter discusses
    a sword that is meant to be removed and
    Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (21st cen.,
    Israel) is quoted as forbidding soldiers
    from wearing weapons even when they
    are clearly intended as forms of jewelry
    (quoted in Dirshu edition of Mishnah
    Berurah, 301 n. 19). Since the Sages
    forbade wearing a weapon, this prohibition
    remains in force even if the reason no
    longer applies. When it comes to wearing
    medals on formal army uniforms, Rav
    Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos
    Ke-Hilchasah 18:25) and Rav Simcha

    Rabinowitz (Piskei Teshuvos 301:17)
    permit a soldier to wear them on Shabbos.
    IV. Shabbos Clothes
    Returning to Shabbos clothing, what
    should a soldier wear on Shabbos? Most
    IDF soldiers have two types of uniforms: 1)
    nice type A uniforms, which vary by force,
    2) type B uniforms for work and combat,
    which are all the same. Some soldiers
    also have dress uniforms for important
    ceremonies. Outside of an active combat
    situation or where otherwise impossible,
    should a soldier always wear his nicest
    uniform on Shabbos?
    Rav Zechariah Shlomo (cont., Israel)
    writes that on Shabbos a soldier should
    wear a clean type A uniform, if he has it
    available (Hilchos Tzava 35:16). In Rav
    Mordechai Tziyon’s Hilchos Madei Tzahal
    (no. 17), he quotes Rav Shlomo Aviner
    (cont., Israel) as saying that it is best to
    wear type A uniform on Shabbos when
    you are not working. However, it is not
    required because experience has shown
    that it can become overly burdensome to
    switch clothing repeatedly. Rav Aviner
    (ibid., no. 18) adds that some commanders
    allow soldiers to wear white shirts on
    Shabbos. When that option is available, it
    is preferred.
    The Israel Police Rabbinate recently
    published the first volume of a Torah
    journal, titled Hifkadti Shomrim (vol. 1).
    An unsigned article in this journal discusses
    what a police officer who is on duty on
    Shabbat should do regarding the obligation
    to wear Shabbos clothes (po. 197-198). The
    author quotes Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein
    (cont., Israel) who was asked about a doctor
    on duty in the hospital (Chashukei Chemed,
    Yoma 23b). Rav Zilberstein quotes Rav
    Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (19th cen.)
    who says that even if someone’s Shabbos
    clothes are exactly the same as his weekday
    clothes, he still should change into them
    for Shabbos (Ben Yehoyada, Shabbos
    114). Therefore, Rav Zilberstein says that a
    doctor should put on a clean white coat for
    Shabbos. Similarly, a police officer should
    wear a clean uniform. Presumably, a soldier
    should also wear a clean uniform if he has
    no option to wear a nicer shirt or uniform.