Plane insane: man wraps himself in a plastic sheet to preserve his purity while flying over a graveyard

A PHOTO taken of an Orthodox Jewish crazy wrapped in plastic on an aircraft has gone viral on the Internet.


According to this report, the lunatic in the picture – a man dressed entirely in black – is apparently a Kohein, a religious descendant of the priests of ancient Israel, who are banned from flying over cemeteries.

But Rabbi Jeffrey W Goldwasser, in an article for, explained that many wrap themselves in plastic bags as a compromise measure.

In orthodox and Conservative communities, Kohanim, plural of Kohein are expected to abstain from coming in contact with the dead, which includes a prohibition on visiting cemeteries except for the funerals of close relatives.

As a controversial solution – not entirely agreed upon even by Orthodox Jews – the plastic bag used by the man here would act as a sort of barrier between the Kohein and the surrounding tumah, or impurity.

Some flights also go to great lengths to take specific paths to avoid cemeteries. Passengers can also be made aware in advance if a body will be aboard the plane in cargo.

Despite what could be seen as a solution, albeit unusual, flights have been delayed or turned around because they refused to carry the passenger wrapped in a bag out of safety concerns.

Even if they can be secured by a seat belt, the passengers wouldn’t be able to reach an oxygen mask or quickly escape the plane in the event of an emergency.

There is also is the question of how they can breathe. Pre-punched holes in the plastic are said to invalidate the barrier, according to Jewish newspaper YatedNe’eman.

Only if when the kohein is putting on this bag it accidentally rips can there be some leniency.

Kohanim have a duty to protect their taharah, purity. They have been bestowed with extra kedushah which makes them worth of being meshorsei Hashem. At times, there may be extra demands made upon them in order to maintain that standard of kedushah and taharah.

Hat tip: Pete H

67 responses to “Plane insane: man wraps himself in a plastic sheet to preserve his purity while flying over a graveyard”

  1. barriejohn says:

    All these rules and regulations are supposed to be based upon “The Words of Moses”:

    “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people.” (Lev.21:1 KJV)

    The rest you just make up yourself!

  2. Lazy Susan says:

    “And the Lord said to Moses, they shall all have round noses. Excepting for Aaron, ‘cos he’ll have a square ‘un!” — from Frank Owen, an elderly gent I knew long ago.

    I learned the other day that Sid James’ real name was Solly Cohen. Hoarr hoarr hoarr!

  3. tony e says:

    Sorry to be off topic, but stumbled across this small article with the vatican appearing to deny serious ill health rumours about Benedict. Going by their impeccable record of honesty I suppose that means he is up shit creek.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Lazy Susan:

    Sid James was South African, too, and not a Cockney, and had been a hairdresser before he took up acting – hah!hah!hah!

    How do we know that Moses wore a wig? Because sometimes he was seen with Aaron and sometimes he wasn’t – boom!boom!

  5. Lazy Susan says:

    BJ – yes – I had thought he was Australian.

    Also off topic – does anyone know how the Real Easter Egg sales campaign did? I had a look on Google but could find nothing quantitative – just vague descriptions and then silence. I guess that means it did not do too well: absence of evidence is evidence of absence in this case, as they would have been crowing if it had been successful.

    I didn’t buy any easter stuff at all this year. Not a boycott, just not interested.

  6. Ian says:

    It went incredibly well, sales were apparently appalling. The general levels of Easter Egg sales was also reported down and the ‘eggstra special’ easter Eggs almost invisible.

    So sad!

  7. barriejohn says:

    This didn’t post so I shall try again!

    LS: They don’t seem to have updated their site for a while, which seems strange after all the fuss that they made just recently.

    There was a documentary about Sid James on BBC2 last week (The Many Faces of Sid James), now available to watch on iPlayer.

  8. Lazy Susan says:

    I can’t help thinking it was a misconceived idea in the first place. People buy chocolate eggs for several reasons – self indulgence, return to childhood, as a present, etc. But nobody buys them for spirituality. Chocolate and spirituality are antithetical. You might as well have a chocolate rosary.

  9. Tim Danaher says:

    I wish I could claim this one for myself, but here goes:

    “Whenever I fly, I make sure I only use Jewrex™”

    From the We Fucking Love Atheism Facebook page:

  10. barriejohn says:

    I loved Jackie Mason’s joke about flying. He was scared of flying until he attended a course where it was all explained to him, with the aid of a chart showing the little arrows flowing above and beneath the wings. Then he got into a plane and it started to take off: NO LITTLE ARROWS!

  11. Ian says:

    If you want a spiritual experience with chocolate buy Lindt, the highest % you like, mine is 90%. Sit in a quiet room and put just one piece on your tongue, close your eyes, sit back and let your body heat do the reat – pure magic :o)

    In the meantime this you gov report is interesting:

  12. LindaR says:

    Ian, sorry, but the purest experience is Green and Black’s Maya Gold – I preferred it in the old days, when each wrapper told you exactly how many vaccines you’d paid for, but it’s still magical 😀

  13. Stephen Turner says:

    Maybe someone put him through one of those machines that seal your luggage from tamperers?

    I’ve edited the quote from YatedNe’ema, in such a way that it makes at least as much sense.

    Kohanim have a duty to protect their dwangle, purity. They have been bestowed with extra dwengle which makes them worth of being dwingle. At times, there may be extra demands made upon them in order to maintain that standard of dwongle and dwungle.

  14. Brian Jordan says:

    It was Hancock & James’s sidekick Bill Kerr who was Australian.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Strangely enough, Bill Kerr was born in Cape Town! Spike Milligan said of Tony Hancock: “First he got rid of Bill Kerr, then he got rid of Kenneth Williams, then he got rid of Galton and Simpson and now he’s got rid of himself”. Galton and Simpson castigated him for that, but, as someone else who has suffered throughout his life with depression, I find it a very insightful remark. He hit the nail on the head – poor, tragic, brilliant Hancock!

  16. Matt Westwood says:

    I’m expecting complete and utter mayhem in London on Wednesday. I’m using that expectation to try and weasel my way out of a tedious customer meeting that day – I really do have better things to do and they don’t involve driving through M25 traffic which may well be gridlocked.

  17. Matt Westwood says:

    Damn, sorry, wrong thread. Oh, you know what I mean.