The Y2K problem is liable to cause massive Shabbos
desecration with legal backing. This is evident from the
demands of officials to permit local authorities' personnel
to man their posts on the 1st of January, 2000, which falls
on Shabbos. UTJ's MK Rabbi Gafni, however, warns that UTJ
will not remain in the coalition if public Shabbos
The beginning of the year 2000 (according to the common
system of counting the years) is liable to cause disruptions
to many computerized systems. This is because older systems
used only two digits to designate the year. When computers
were originally introduced, they were very limited in space
for storing information, and programmers commonly cut corners
by using only two digits to store the year. As long as the
two digits of the years were steadily increasing, this caused
no problems, but next year the numbers will go from '99 to
'00, which may confuse many computers and their programs.
This in turn could cause many problems, since so many things
nowadays depend on computers.
The developed countries have been working hard to ensure that
there will be no disruptions by this imminent event.
Governments and companies have invested billions of dollars
in an effort to make sure that things will be ok. Yet despite
all the investment, and even after extensive testing, no one
can be sure that his computer system will not be disrupted
when the date changes from December 31, 1999 to January 1,
This critical day is a Shabbos, which means that most people
will not be at work, and will thus not be able to monitor the
change to fix any last minute problems.
The chairman of the Local Government Center, Edi Alder, asked
Labor Minister Eli Yishai to grant work permits to 25,000
city employees, so that they may man their posts on that day
in the event that unforeseen difficulties arise to the
various systems under their jurisdiction.
Alder said that local authorities are doing everything
possible to prepare for the Y2K bug. Nonetheless, a number of
unexpected problems are liable to occur. He adds that the
local authorities are responsible for vital infrastructure
systems, such as water, sewage and traffic lights and, as a
result, they must man their posts on the 1st of January,
despite the Shabbos desecration involved.
MK Anat Maor of Meretz made a similar appeal to the Director
General of the Office of the Prime Minister, Yossi Kochik,
who heads the Director General Committee for the Problem of
the Y2K Bug.
Rabbi Moshe Gafni said, "There is law and order in the State
of Israel which determines that the Law of Work and Rest must
be observed and that licenses to work on Shabbos are given
only in cases of pikuach nefesh. I am very sorry that
there is an attempt to undermine the Shabbos under the guise
of preparing for the year 2000. Just as in the case of the
turbine components, there is no need to desecrate so sacred a
value to the Jewish nation as Shabbos, when pikuach
nefesh is not involved," Rabbi Gafni said.
Rabbi Gafni warns that UTJ will not remain in the coalition
much longer if there is continual public Shabbos