Thursday, 10 October 2013

Orthodox Jewish man photographed covering himself in plastic bag during flight because faith forbids him to fly over cemeteries

Orthodox Jewish man photographed covering himself in plastic bag during flight
because faith forbids him to fly over cemeteries

  • An Orthodox Jewish plane passenger was seen wrapped in a plastic bag during a flight
  • It was believed the man is a Kohein, a religious descendant of the priests of ancient Israel, who are banned from flying over cemeteries
  • Fellow passengers strained to see the unusual sight and took pictures


It is not unusual for people to have rituals when flying on a plane, like wearing a St Christopher chain or keeping their eyes closed until they take off.
But one passenger took his beliefs a step further by covering himself in a plastic bag for the whole of his journey because his religion forbids him to fly over cemeteries.
This was the bizarre sight that greeted plane passengers when an Orthodox Jewish man covered himself under a plastic sheet.
It was believed the man is a Kohein, a religious descendant of the priests of ancient Israel, who are banned from flying over cemeteries.


Sight to see: This photo of a man who appears to be an Orthodox Jew shows him seated aboard a plane while wrapped in a plastic bag, drawing controversy and question on what for

PLASTIC PROVIDES BARRIER FROM 'IMPURITIES'

Kohanim (plural of Kohein) are the male-line descendants of the priests of ancient Israel.
Descendants are shunned from flying over cemeteries and being in contact with the dead.
Contact with the dead is believed to inflict him with impurity.
Why a plastic bag?
Some consider that the bag provides a potential barrier from the impurities/dead
How can they breathe?
Pre-punched holes invalidate the barrier 
If the kohein is putting on the bag and it accidentally rips some leniency to breathe is provided
Contact with the dead would consequently inflict him with impurity.
Problems:
Flights have been delayed or turned around because of the ensuing safety hazards
The passengers would not be able to reach an oxygen mask or quickly escape the plane in the event of an emergency
Many wrap themselves in plastic bags as a compromise measure.
The startling photograph, which has now gone viral after being posted on Reddit, shows fellow passengers straining over their seats to get a look.
Beneath his plastic wrapping, the man is dressed entirely in black, and appears to be wearing a Jewish skullcap or 'kippah'.
As a controversial solution - not entirely allowed by those in the Jewish Orthodox - the plastic bag creates a kind of barrier between the Kohein and the surrounding tumah, or impurity.
Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser, of  Temple Beit HaYam in Israel, explained: 'In orthodox and Conservative communities, Kohanim 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.'
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 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.