Just when you think Fundies are stuck in the past they come up with a new and brilliant solution. Here is a photo of an Ultra Orthodox Jew (UOJ, cohen, kohen) flying in a baggie so that he can go over a cemetery–a kohen (priest by descent) staying pure. And yes that’s why the name Cohen is common like Smith.
First this is a brilliant solution to the old problem of contacting dead bodies as cited in Leviticus. Before reflecting on that though I’d like to suggest that baggies are a brilliant solution to myriad flying problems.
- The Talker: a baggie around the talker could be tightened according to the amount they talk. If they don’t stop I am sure lack of air will help slow them down.
- The Screaming baby: a baggie with sound proofing would solve problems of poop, pee, and screaming. They have shown that lower oxygen levels help babies sleep.
- The Stretcher: for the poor 6 ft plus man sitting behind some jerk that slams their seat back driving the big guy’s knees through his chin the baggie can be tightened to enforce a more upright position.
- Visual Moralist: for the mother who doesn’t want their child to see the violent or sexual movie two screens up, an opaque baggie is perfect. I’m sure with flexible moivie screens, these baggies could incorporate appropriate viewing inside the baggie.
- The Sleeper: for the person wishing the windows would be closed or the lights low, the dark baggie is perfect.
- The Illness Phobe: this one is perfect for me as I catch airline colds whenever I fly. A baggie with sanitizer and respirator would be perfect. It could also be used for those who are sick and don’t want to spread it.
- The Druggie: for someone who just has to imbibe or fly while flying this is a perfect way to allow them a constant source without spreading the pleasure. A custom drug atomizer would be included.
The safety issue could be addressed that when the plane depressurizes in an emergency, the baggie is automatically sealed and filled with oxygen. The baggie would serve as an air bag and has the added bonus of floating in water.
Back in 2001 El Al airlines instantiated rule to prevent flying in baggies as a possible danger. Apparently this was better than rerouting the plane around the cemetery which they couldn’t as the cemetery is too close to the Tel Aviv approach.
A family of ultra-Orthodox kohanim from Jerusalem consulted Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv following a report in Ha’aretz last week that Swissair had modified its flight route to avoid the cemetery. Swissair agreed to make the route revision in order to allow a prominent ultra-Orthodox leader, Rabbi David Kahan, to maintain strict observance of the Jewish laws regarding ritual purity for kohanim.
Rabbi Elyashiv and two other rabbis worked out an arrangement under which the family of Jerusalem kohanim would hermetically seal themselves in plastic bags when flying over the Holon cemetery in order to avoid ritual impurity.
El Al was initially willing to allow this arrangement, in which the kohanim would board the plane in the bags and tie them closed when flying over the cemetery. But the airline subsequently decided not to permit this due to safety considerations.
In 2008, El Al had a run in with another UOJ who was angered at the in flight movies and attempted to push the screen back in.
The Haredi men, en route to Uman, Ukraine to visit the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, said that the airline had promised not to show a film during the flight.
When the screens began to unfold in preparation for the screening, the ultra-Orthodox men began going wild. “It was a pretty frightening sight,” a passenger on the plane described the events. According to witnesses, the men began shouting and physically trying to prevent the movie screens from unfolding.
When originally posted on Reddit, many thought it was so he wouldn’t touch women but that wasn’t the case this time. Other times it has been and the practice is on the increase; probably because the ultraorthodox community is growing, engaging more with the world, and is pushing back against the growing secularism of Israel.
El Al passengers are noting a recent phenomenon involving clusters of ultra-Orthodox men approaching female passengers prior to take-off and requesting to switch seats, according to El Al customers and tour operators.
While the phenomenon of lone Haredi men approaching female passengers is not new, and has in fact gone on for years, large groups of Haredim – upwards of 15-20 people in some instances – are reportedly attempting to secure blocs of seats for themselves. Their persistence is causing consternation and friction, while setting off a host of logistical problems during the course of some flights, according to a number of sources interviewed by Haaretz.
… The uptick in Haredi requests aboard El Al flights to switch seats coincides with recent incidents involving some rigorously Orthodox Jews insisting on the separation of sexes in certain Israeli neighborhoods, on public bus routes and in public seating spaces, even at check-out counters in supermarkets and stores.
… A spokesman for El Al – which is represented by the Israeli public relations firm of Ran Rahav Communications, Ltd. – released a statement to Haaretz maintaining that “the convenience of passengers and the delivery of uncompromising, quality service, serve as the basis of El Al’s reputation.”
The statement notes that “in-flight and ground crews are charged with addressing every problem and need related to the welfare of the passengers – including issues related to seating – with sensitivity and without a scent of discrimination on the basis of religion, creed or sex, yet with an emphasis on flight safety.”
Without a scent of discrimination? I am going to start a religion called Hagenism that is based on reason, rationality, empiricism, and science wherein we do not have contact with revelationists that desecrate clear thinking, knowing that contact corrupts. Scent, hmm, and if the religion involves abuse?
Understanding the importance of purity, if only ceremoniously, in religion I thought to further understand these restrictions that must be preserved. Leviticus 21:
|1. And the Lord said to Moses: Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: Let none [of you] defile himself for a dead person among his people
|2. except for his relative who is close to him, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother,
|3. and for his virgin sister who is close to him, who was not [yet] with a man for her, he shall defile himself.
|4. [But] a husband shall not defile himself for [a wife who causes] his desecration, [while she is] among his people.
|5. They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shall they shave the edge of their beard, nor shall they make cuts in their flesh.
|6. They shall be holy to their God, and they shall not desecrate their God’s Name, for they offer up the fire offerings of the Lord, the food offering of their God, so they shall be holy.
|7. They shall not marry a woman who is a prostitute or who is desecrated, and they shall not marry a woman who is divorced from her husband for he [the kohen] is holy to his God.
|8. You shall sanctify him, for he offers up the food offering of your God; he shall be holy to you, for I, the Lord Who sanctifies you, am holy.
|9. If a kohen’s daughter becomes desecrated through adultery she desecrates her father; she shall be burned in fire.
|10. And the kohen who is elevated above his brothers, upon whose head the anointment oil has been poured or who has been inaugurated to wear the garments he shall not leave his hair unshorn or rend his garments.
|11. And he shall not come upon any dead bodies; he shall not defile himself for his father or his mother.
|12. He shall not leave the Sanctuary, and he will not desecrate the holy things of his God, for the crown of his God’s anointing oil is upon him. I am the Lord.
|13. He shall marry a woman in her virgin state.
|14. A widow, a divorcee, a woman who is desecrated or a prostitute he shall not marry [any] of these. Only a virgin of his people may he take as a wife.
|15. And he shall not desecrate his offspring among his people, for I am the Lord, Who sanctifies him.
|16. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
|17. Speak to Aaron, saying: Any man among your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect, shall not come near to offer up his God’s food.
|18. For any man who has a defect should not approach: A blind man or a lame one, or one with a sunken nose or with mismatching limbs;
|19. or a man who has a broken leg or a broken arm;
|20. or one with long eyebrows, or a cataract, or a commingling in his eye; dry lesions or weeping sores, or one with crushed testicles
|21. Any man among Aaron the kohen’s offspring who has a defect shall not draw near to offer up the Lord’s fire offerings. There is a defect in him; he shall not draw near to offer up his God’s food.
|22. His God’s food from the most holy and from the holy ones, he may eat.
|23. But he shall not come to the dividing curtain, nor shall he draw near to the altar, for he has a defect, and he shall not desecrate My holy things, for I am the Lord Who sanctifies them.
|24. Moses told [this to] Aaron and his sons, and to all of the children of Israel.
Considering the importance that Halakha, Jewish law, hermeneutics, draws no difference between the religious and nonreligious life I think it’s important to reflect. I wonder if contact could be interpreted as contact and distance is OK; perhaps distance could be a few hundred feet or so. Perhaps just being in the plane could serve as a barrier as that seems more solid than a baggie. Perhaps coming upon the dead means they should be buried and that’s good enough.
It’s true the desecrated shouldn’t approach the divider but just how close is close enough? Is cardboard on the back of a seat really good enough? How can the desecrated not approach it or does that just mean touching it?
My concern is paying such fastidious attention on cemeteries when there are the big issues of contact with the blind, the handicapped, the injured, people with cataracts, or any other defect. I am particularly concerned with coming in contact with someone having crushed testicles. Long eyebrows are definitely a show stopper. Perhaps the Haredi should be in a space suit at all times. I’m sure the ancients knew about germs and (non)communicable diseases. There are as always good health reasons behind these rules. The crushed testicles must have been from a disease or punishment for adultery. Long eyebrows? I want to know the ethnicity of long eyebrows they fear.
It sounds like the kohen shouldn’t leave their sanctuary, an admonition against travel, kind of like the Greek oracles where the priests and priestesses had to stay and live there. Perhaps it means they shouldn’t fly since somewhere somehow they will probably travel over a cemetery. Train, boat or car only!
I am also concerned that there are no sacrifices involving fire anymore. An offering through fire can’t mean a candle or fiery spirit. It does seem to mean food offering from a sacrificed, cooked animal that is then passed around as redistributive feasting. No, no, that’s a BBQ not a sacrifice.
Finally, I am concerned that the text doesn’t note that both the desecrated daughter and her possible unborn child be burned before she births. No delay is allowed as her child can’t survive. Time is of the essence.
We all get the importance of body hair, virginity, and pure monogamy
It is important to know that the descendants of a kohen are also considered kohen and must follow the same rules. I still think the baggie was brilliant in following the letter of a law made so clear. It is entirely symbolic of the social cell made real; bubble theology, baggie theology. Sadly, my goal is to burst that bubble.
Jim Newman, bright and well