Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Man in the Bag

Great post by Rabbi Bechhofer today. He addresses the issue of the 'man in the bag' quite nicely. Here is his post in its entirety (sans the quoted newspaper stories.)

First, I do not believe the photo is real. Only Cyprus Air flies Motzo'ei Shabbos from Lanarca to Tel Aviv, and the interior of its A320 that flies that route looks different - see:

Moreover, the necessity for the bag would only be upon landing - and the passenger is not wearing a seatbelt. In addition, the source of the photo is never given.  Not to mention the danger of asphyxiation. Finally, no airline in its right mind would allow this to happen!

What about the story? Perhaps it is true, perhaps not, but I do not believe Rabbi Zilberstein or any other reputable rabbi would have mandated this phenomenon. If something seems that off, it probably is off.

Without getting into excruciating detail, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Hil. Aveilus 57 (370):4 takes care of all the issues with great acumen and finesse.
רכבת נוסעים הנוסעת מעיר לעיר, ובדרך נסיעתה עוברת על בית קברות, יש להקל לכהן לנסוע ברכבת לצורך פרנסתו. [ילקו"י אבלות מהדורת תשס"ד סימן נז סעיף ד, עמוד תשפא. יביע אומר חלק י' חלק יורה דעה סימן נב עמוד דש. ושם בא בארוכה בדין "אהל זרוק אי שמיה אהל"] .

The note to that halacha explains the psak. Besides the extensive reasoning, he cites several mattirim, among them:

Yerushas HaPleitah


Tzitz Eliezer

The first two teshuvos deal with airplanes, the last with a bus - but the principles are similar.

In short, even if the story is true, it did not and does not have to happen.

Toras Hashem Temimah. Eidus Hashem Ne'emanah.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The cohen's flight was delayed because of Obama's visit to Israel. He was forced to spend Shabbos Hagadol in Cyprus and eat nothing but fresh fruit. He then faced a choice of flying over the cemetery in Holon or spending the entire Pesach in Cyprus. Rav Zilberstein shlita told him to fly home and rely on the plastic bag for the few seconds the plane flew over the cemetery.
    All the teshuvos in the world do not mean that Dayan Ehrentreu hasn't done this so even if it did not have to happen it has happened and it did happen. I do not know the cohen myself but I do know members of his family; they told me about the fresh fruit.

  3. I guess there was a rush to judgement again without determining ther facts!

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