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    Not that anyone would know the answer to this, but would it be possible to hold a job in the us government other than mayor, congress, senate, type of positions, maybe even be required to frequently travel to foreign countries and still be shomer shabbos?


    What type of position are you looking for? 😉


    Vogue – I heard of s/o who worked for the NSA and traveled the world as an attache to the diplomatic service. Yea, he was Frum.

    But his name is a Secret, although I know it, but I don’t know his number – perhaps it was 007? He actually made it up pretty high before he retired.

    Many in the Frum communities in Balto. & Washington are federal employees. Actually, the Fed Gov. is more accommodating to religion than the private sector.

    The way you started this topic it sounds like you have a big imagination.



    You want to be the first frum (brainwashed) female spy?


    No, plus you would run into tons of LH and moser issues. And these jobs don’t allow people to have a normal life. Go to Touro, become a teacher.


    Federal employment is ideal for frum Jews. Very few jobs have issues with Shabbos. If travelling, you might have to arrive early or stay late in a city (for example a Friday meeting will require spending Shabbos in that city), but you can usually find frum Yidden to stay with. You can even impress your boss by being super-frugal by preparing food in your hotel room instead of running up restaurant tabs. Since most government, for the last 80 years or so, has been on a strict five day week, Shabbos issues aren’t too common. Unlike the private sector, Federal always makes a good faith effort at religious accomodation.

    Some areas are problematic. The law enforcement and the uniform services expect you to be on call 24/7, so non-medical positions in the armed forces are probably out (though civilian work is not a problem for these agencies, even in the defense department). In jobs dealing with Israel, they (probably rightly) are suspicious that anyone may be more inclined to be pro-Israel even if this conflicts with American policy (which isnt’ to say that there aren’t frum Jews working in serious positions for the NSA and the FBI).

    Of course most of the good Federal jobs require living in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitcan area (which is good for yiddishkeit, and cheaper than New York), and Federal health and retirement benefits are excellent.


    I know someone in the private sector who deals with Asian imports and travels to Indonesia and China several times a year. If he’s going to be there over a weekend he spends Shabbos in Shanghai or Tokyo.



    I just keep on defaulting to looking at cia and fbi websites when I feel like nothing else would suit me. It would be sooooo cool. No, I don’t want to be a teacher, I am not really an expert at any subject. I could still go to touro and major in computer science.


    Vogue – do you have any idea how many IT people work for security agencies? Let me assure you, tons. They have very complicated secret, secure IT systems that need to be kept running. I’m quite involved in that world in another country.

    It’s very challenging. You may definitely want to consider such a career, if those are the two things you’re considering. These systems are absolutely critical and I think that even when they may occasionally involve having to work on Shabbos, you might be able to get a heter for that if it is really an issue of national security (which it very well might be). For example, if you are the one in charge of the CIA’s internal communications systems and something completely crashes – this might very well endanger people’s lives.

    I must note though that some disagree with me on that, regarding Shabbos (disclaimer).


    I never thought about that.


    “would it be possible to hold a job in the us government other than mayor, congress, senate, type of positions, maybe even be required to frequently travel to foreign countries and still be shomer shabbos? “

    I know a civilian employee of the Defense Department who does just that.

    “I must note though that some disagree with me on that, regarding Shabbos”

    There are lots of kulot for national security work. But not all rabbis know them. Find a knowledgeable rabbi, and good luck!


    There are lots of self manufactured kulot for national security work. But not all rabbis can even dream them up, they are so “novel”. Find a competent orthodox rabbi, and good luck! Do not assume that kulot referred to on the interenet are in anyway reliable.

    That is the way you can make a true kiddush hashem.


    Vogue -“I just keep on defaulting to looking at cia and fbi websites when I feel like nothing else would suit me. It would be sooooo cool.”

    This is your imagination running wild. Anything more than a simple nobody is very stressful. The guy I knew with the NSA had an extremely stressful life because of all the important materials that he was responsible for. Real life in these agencies, if you could even get anywhere that dealt with anything important, is Not like James Bond in the movies.


    You don’t need a “novel” or “kulah” -if something is mutar, it is mutar even if you have a beard and pe’os, and if it is asur, it is asur even if you keep your kippah srugah in your pocket. About the only haskafa differences are that some Dati Leumi who hold that anything that helps the Israeli army (e.g. driving an officer to the beach so he can relax with his family and Shabbos, and thereby be more rested on Sunday) is mutar, but that’s a minority. Anything life threatening takes priority over Shabbos, and always has. No hiddushim involved.

    Whether someone wants a job that forces them to work on Shabbos, is a different matter. The frummer you are, the more likely you’ll skip the higher parnassah that a job that requires working on Shabbos commands (e.g. be a math teacher rather than a cryptographer for the NSA).

    National security work can easily lead to situation where it becomes necessary to work on Shabbos since it becomes life saving (consider the lessons learned from the cryptographers who were piously waiting until Monday to decode the messages indicating that the Japanese Navy was bombing Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning).


    For sure.


    Chillul Shabbos is only muttar in a direct pekuach nefesh situation directly invoving yehudim. It is a rare situation, as most of the Shabbos work required in these positions do not meet this threshold.


    If there is a security threat to the united states, that includes the Jewish population as well.


    Dov Zakheim was a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, that’s pretty high up there.

    Don’t forget Lieberman, and others.

    There are probably more issues working around Shabbos in the private sector than in the government sector.

    Acers, so how does Hatzolah treat non-Jews on Shabbos????


    “how does Hatzolah treat non-Jews on Shabbos?”

    My wife is a doctor and she treats non-Jews on Shabbos. It isn’t a shilah.


    “It isn’t a shilah.”

    After I posted that I realized that it might be misleading. She has consulted with distinguished rabbis over exactly what and what not a doctor can do to treat patients on Shabat, and under what conditions. We also rule leniently in matters of doubt because of pikuach nefesh. And very little that doctors do on Shabat is actually melachah d’oraita. The “it isn’t a shilah” is that a doctor does not distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish patients, not that there isn’t a lot of halachah that one must learn in order to treat patients on Shabat.


    Right, I was asking acers.

    As for melacha on Shabbos, not only is most hospital melacha not a d’oraisa, it’s most likely not even a d’rabbanon, but rather minhag/chumrah.


    Vogue, for your convenience, and our edification, I paste below a list of skills spies use (lightly edited for YWN):

    Spies, like in any profession tend to develop specialities, but a well rounded spy will develop varying levels of expertise in the following areas;

    – Languages – This is an important area. They need to be proficient in multiple languages (both written and verbal), preferably in the languages of their identified enemies of the time. They must also have an ear for languages. They need to know what language is being spoken (even if they don’t speak it) and the various accents that identify which specific region of a country the person speaking comes from, based on the nuances of their accent. They must also be able to work these nuances into their own language skills when appropriate.

    – Weapons – They must have the ability to expertly handle a broad base of weapons with ease. This can range from small arms hand guns to weaponized aircraft, watercraft and ground units. They must also know how to assemble and disassemble and/or disarm the weapons as well (including all manner of explosives and stealth weapons (poisons)). They must also be able to improvise or devise a weapon out of anything that is handy.

    – Hand to Hand Combat – When weapons are not readily available or cannot be taken from the enemy by force and used against them, the spy must be an expert in hand to hand combat. They must be an expert in multiple forms of martial arts and must be able to adapt to different situations immediately. This goes beyond adapting to multiple opponents or close-quarter combat techniques. If they are an American operating under cover as a Russian, they must fight using the techniques they would have been taught in the Russian military. If they use American fighting techniques they will give themselves away.

    – Mind-Body Control – A good spy will have an expert level of control over their mind, their emotions and their body. They need to be able to effectively compartmentalize their thinking. This heightens their effectiveness and level of focus and detail they bring to each action. For example, if they are breaking into a safe, they cannot be thinking about their escape in that moment. If they are under cover as a foreign operative, they cannot be thinking like they are on domestic soil. Body language comprises the largest portion of our communication and what goes on in the head comes out in our body language. You need to take character acting to a new level when their life depends on it.”

    A good spy will be exposed to a wide variety of terrains and circumstances so they must be able to control their body temperature to adapt to various climates as required. They also must be able to operate with a clear mind while under extreme duress or sometimes while in extreme pain, so they need to be able to block out certain elements while heightening their focus on other areas. The body has natural reactions to being under threat (adrenaline rushes, emotional responses (fear, anger, fight or flight, post traumatic stress etc). The spy is often faced with situations, events or circumstances that will shock their senses. The spy needs to be able to learn how to operate under multiple forms of duress while maintaining the integrity of and focus on the mission at hand. There is a beginning, a middle and a wrap up to most missions and they must be able to sustain their focus through to completion. They also must be able to endure hours and sometimes days of mind numbing boredom while staying in a state of mental readiness. Real spying involves a lot of surveillance and hurry up and wait. It takes great mental and physical discipline to jump to a state of alertness after an extended period with no consequential activity.

    Equipment Handling – A spy should know how to operate and perform basic forms of maintenance on many forms of equipment with dexterity and often under stressful circumstances. This includes, but is not limited to; all types of automobiles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, heavy equipment, watercraft (from speedboats to small ships as well as underwater craft), helicopter or other forms of rotor craft, all forms of aircraft from small aircraft to jets, to full airliners, trains or other forms of transportation. They also need to be proficient in technology and be able to deal with issues related to the operation and disarming of computers, telephone equipment, alarm systems, heating and air conditioning units, electrical systems and so forth. They now must also be prepared to deal with robotics both in utilizing them and disarming them as robots are playing an ever-increasing role in warfare.

    Thinking – Spies are taught to think using a variety of thinking techniques. This includes; creative thinking, critical thinking, methodical thinking, strategic thinking, abstract thinking, divergent thinking etc.. They key is to be able to engage and change your thinking instantaneously as needed. To do this effectively you need to be highly proficient in situational awareness (being able to assess your surroundings and circumstances immediately) and formulate alternative plans to meet their objectives. For example, spy agencies do not just accept a single source of intelligence and act on it unless there is absolutely no alternative. They gather intelligence from multiple sources and then they have to formulate an opinion and a plan from what is often conflicting data. The spy must be able to filter through what they are seeing, hearing and sensing and often make a decision on the spot. Common sense plays a big role here and is especially important when a single wrong move can cost your life or the lives of many others.

    Spies are also taught to develop eidetic memory skills, which is as close as you can get to a true photographic memory. This includes photo reading skills so they can absorb a huge amount of information quickly and recall it with ease. They also train the body to accept new forms of muscle memory quickly and effortlessly. This is much harder than it sounds, but people with natural athletic ability that don’t focus on developing a single athletic skill too long can adapt to this quite effectively.

    Medical Training – An excellent spy must know the physiology of the human body intimately. This may be used to effectively injure, disarm or dispatch an opponent or to deliver medical assistance to themselves or others in the field. They should know everything from basic care and maintenance of their bodies to being able to perform minor surgery as the need requires. It also helps them to know the outer limits of their bodies tolerances and to estimate the limits of others.

    Strong Interpersonal Skills – One of the best weapons of a spy is the ability to properly manipulate others to do their bidding. Sometimes this involves eliciting information from an unwilling party. Most people immediately think of interrogation in this case, but in truth, interrogation is not particularly effective or reliable. Every person has different forms of motivation. The most skilled spies will learn the targets motivations and how to elicit information from someone without them realizing they are giving up information or that the person talking to them is actually a spy extracting information. They will also use the same techniques to turn enemies on each other and on themselves. This can involve neuro linguistic programming, or more aggressive techniques as required. This requires an intimate knowledge of psychology and the social sciences and the ability to use this knowledge against their enemies. The best spies on the planet are ones you will never know or hear about, but who have effected great change with nothing more than a well placed word or phrase.

    Strong Intrapersonal Skills – This involves knowing yourself extremely well. An excellent spy is constantly seeking out and eliminating their own weaknesses. They want to develop a persona that, as closely as possible, cannot be pierced by their enemy. This starts with the obvious. A person who has a penchant for high living or addictions can be easily compromised, but it obviously goes much deeper than that. Things like family members or negative experiences in their childhood can be manipulated by skilled opponents, which is why the life of a spy is largely lived in obscurity or at least under false pretenses for the bulk of the time. In order to assess these potential weaknesses, the great spies must be prepared to objectively and ruthlessly analyze themselves, not only as they see themselves, but as others see them too. We are often blind to our greatest weaknesses so this takes great humility, something we don’t often equate to the stereotypical spy. It is this ability and willingness that makes them such a lethal force.

    Survival Skills – Great spies, above all must be able to survive for the next mission. This includes learning survival techniques in all sorts of environments including;

    – Jungle survival techniques

    – Dessert survival techniques

    – Arctic survival techniques

    – Forest/mountain survival techniques

    – Urban survival techniques

    Escape and Evade Techniques – This includes everything from just running away from a situation, to evasive driving skills, to losing a tail, to breaking out of a prison, to crossing a border without detection and more. Sometimes this is overt – they are just making a run for it and sometimes it is covert – they are hiding or blending in with their environment. This involves another spy skill which is the successful development and use of disguises. There are many techniques to disguise your appearance that range from the modest (glasses, mustache and hat) to the elaborate. Some spies who have been “discovered” have had to commit to extreme forms of disguise including plastic surgery and a complete change of their cover, location and mandate if they want to remain in the field. As with all the other skills listed here, their training, of course, also includes the ability to counter anyone attempting to use these techniques against them. In this case it would include tracking and capturing someone trying to escape or evade them.

    Developing their Sixth Sense – This may be a controversial topic to some, but a lot of emphasis is put on developing a spy’s natural intuition. Contrary to what we are taught in school our body has hundreds of sensors to gather data with rather than just our five senses. These sensors can be activated and developed to enhance our ability to “perceive” our surroundings in much greater depth than most people consciously realize. Spies can be trained to “lead” with their intuition once they have developed this function fully. Then, just like all other forms of intelligence gathering, they are encouraged, when possible, to gather additional sources of data to validate their intuitive instincts before taking action. Some have developed this ability to an amazing, almost mystical level to capture and avoid being captured.

    Social Skills – A great spy is in the game of manipulation and their playing field is often a social scene of one form or another. They must be able to blend into multiple environments as the need demands. This can mean knowing all the social niceties that comes with attending a diplomatic function to knowing the language and rules of a street gang, a business enterprise or an organized crime culture. They will sometimes be required to become experts in music, dance, the arts, wines, cigars, horses and other things considered important to the well-monied set. In another situation, they will need to know how to climb the social hierarchy within a drug cartel to get close to the primary players. In most (all) instances they have to do this in groups who are highly suspicious of strangers and are on a constant look out for infiltrators and “spies”. In any case, they have to adopt the cadence, language and attitude associated with their surroundings instantly and effectively or risk being discovered.

    High Detail Orientation – It is often the little things that count in the spy world. A misused phrase or a limp that changes sides for a couple of steps can set off alarm bells to the spy. The shift in body language or “tells” another person unconsciously exposes when they are lying are all data the spy uses in evaluating the truth in a world filled with professional and skilled liars. The ability to recall these details sometimes a decade or two after the incident can save their lives so having a high level of detail orientation is an indispensable tool in the spy’s personality make-up.

    Well Read – As you might guess, great spies must be extremely well read in a wide variety of fields and cultures. Their ability to absorb “and” understand information in a broad range of disciplines quickly is often crucial to them getting up to speed quickly on a mission. It is one of their greatest gifts.

    Leadership – Spies have to assume many roles and most of them tend to be wall flower type roles, but from time to time they will be called upon to take a leadership role in an enemies organization. This means they have to turn on the ability to gain others trust and confidence to follow their direction, even on a large scale. It goes beyond having nerves of steel. You must totally believe you are the person you are purporting to be to pull this off. Heady stuff!

    Excellent Communicators – There is no benefit to a spy gathering information if they cannot communicate that knowledge effectively to other members of their team. This communication must clearly identify, a threat, for example. The level of threat perceived, by who, in what form, when must all be communicated clearly and objectively. They must also be master communicators in knowing the effects their communication has on others and to use channels of communication, like the media, effectively to their collective benefit. This includes using all modalities at their disposal for capturing and communicating information (photography, videography, audio, other) as this communication of will often be required to bring the offenders to justice or be used to further their case or justify the use of their agency resources. With some notable exceptions, someone has to pay for the resources needed for the spy to operate and they want to see some verification of a return on their investment.

    I have run out of time to respond to this question and am sure I have missed other skills critical to being a spy but here is quick summary of some stragglers;

    – Ability to sky dive,

    – Ability to cliff dive

    – Ability to play most sports proficiently

    – Deep sea dive

    – Scuba dive

    – Swim long distances and hold their breath under water for extended periods of time (often in sub zero temperatures)

    – Run long distances without tiring

    – Maneuvering through, over, under or around buildings quickly without being detected

    – Operate in the dark confidently

    – Operate in confined spaces, sometimes for extended periods of time

    – Moral flexibility (you have to do distasteful things and/or develop relationships with people who carry contrary beliefs and moral ethics to you)

    – Basically extreme bravery to do all the above with a straight face or under the threat of imminent death on a pretty regular basis

    – Many, many more

    An excellent spy is indeed a sort of super human as evidenced above. In addition to the above skills they must have the aptitude to do all the above without public recognition of their efforts or victories. In fact, the only time we usually hear about them, is if they make a misstep and then they are vilified by those who have captured them (and often by their own people, those who don’t know the sacrifices they have made to keep their fellow citizens out of harms way). This ability to put others before themselves and the ability to know all their work will go largely unnoticed, save by a small collection of insiders, is a key requisite for becoming a successful spy.

    Before you go thinking it is impossible for such a bountiful set of skills to exist, it is not. About 10% of the population has the requisite skills and propensity for becoming a super spy. There is a base personality type (ISTP on the Keirsey profile test is one) that is specifically well suited to being “developed into” this role. They are born with a core set of skills which accounts for about 20% of the needed profile. The environment they are raised in accounts for another nominal percentage and then years of honing and training these skills does the rest. The core physical skills and the ability to learn extremely fast and to adapt immediately and appropriately to changing circumstances is the key. After that its just like any other field of expertise, years of arduous practice and experience. The only difference between this occupation and most others is that in most occupations mistakes help you get experience, whereas mistakes as a spy can get you and many others dead.

    Needless to say, they practice a lot!

    Hope this was an appropriate and insightful answer to your question!


    Hatzalah is due to darchei shalom. And even that not all poskim agree is allowable. Here one is unnecessarily taking a chillul Shabbos position in the first place that was unnecessary (in almost all cases someone else equally qualified and not Jewish could have done it), so to hang ones hat on some supposed reason of pikuach nefesh not directly involving one of us is surely incorrect.


    Thank you for all the information! I really appreciate it.


    You can definitely get a degree in Computer Science and work as some kind of analyst. Many frum people in the DC & Maryland area work in government positions that don’t require working on Shabbos and pay nicely. Btw, when you work for a government agency they thoroughly check you out and you cannot work unless you get security clearance. They can also pull clearance at any time if they don’t like something arbitrary so be careful what you post online, using the word espionage is absolutely meant to be funny, but it will pop up as a red flag if they check you out and no you’re not anonymous to them.


    i hear, and now I want to major in business management.


    Vogue: As a result of reading Torah’s list?… 🙂

    Either way, if you ever do decide to apply for a government job, if you have anything even theoretically objectionable online, DELETE IT or you may not get the job. Someone was telling me (not Jewish- her [stb-] husband works for the FBI) that she knows of people who were turned down for government jobs because of college pics on FB- admittedly not a problem a Bais Yaakov girl is likely to have, but you never know what they may object to. If you have a blog post somewhere about how you want to kill your teacher for failing you on the midterm that you were too busy playing computer games to study for (even if you weren’t doing drugs or anything illegal), no matter how jokey it is, or how legal it is, they will still get quite a bad impression of you.


    got it.


    Well, a Beis Yaakov girl is very unlikely to apply for a FBI job in the first place. (Certainly if she remains true to Beis Yaakov.)


    Torah613Torah -“Vogue, for your convenience, and our edification, I paste below a list of skills spies use (lightly edited for YWN)”

    Cut the James Bond stuff -most employees of the CIA or NSA have no such qualifications. The guy I knew who made his way up the NSA was just a very smart guy who became a wiz in computers and decoding programs.


    What makes you think I am a bais yaakov girl…


    Vogue: People do remember your posts. While we don’t know what’s going on in your heart of hearts, we do know enough solely based off your posts to make a mental picture. It could be completely wrong, however.

    Health: It says “spies” on the top. And the thread is called espionage, which does make it apropos.

    Srotin: Apparently, that kind of checking up is commonplace in all different aspects of government work. I’m not necessarily talking about the cafeteria ladies, but people in NSA, CIA, and plenty of other government bureaus check up on you.

    Not to mention colleges and places of employment in the private sector, so honestly, this is probably good advice for everyone.


    writesoul: A Beis Yaakov girl is highly unlikely to apply for a job with the CIA or the like, if she is true to her Beis Yaakov.


    Srotin: Do you even know what half these people do? I guarantee you, plenty of them, even in the ultra-cool-sounding CIA, are pushing paper and doing the same things they would be doing in the private sector.


    My fathers friend is on the secret service. He does have to break shabbos here and there.


    Srotin: confused about your repeated references on “staying true to BY”

    I’m assuming you mean that staying true to BY means becoming a secretary, OT, PT, ST, or an accountant-only if you work in a small brooklyn office?

    Also I know someone who works for the gov. She is very frum, and a math genius. I dont think she ever works on Shabbat, and I cant imagine she ever would without a heter from a very credible rav.

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit

    Vogue- there are plenty of jobs available for computer programmers in the private sector. If you like math and computers maybe you should look into that. Even when you do government work, programming isn’t the kind of thing you would ever have a problem with shmiras shabbos. If you’re good at it, they’ll accommodate any crazy schedule you like.

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