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 About.com, 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