Wait … what?

Plastic Bag JewGiven the reputation of Mail Online, I can’t say I totally believe the below-linked story.

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

But IF it’s true — I say IF — I have to wonder a couple of things.

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.

First, no way this can be a very OLD religious belief. I have a hard time imagining early Jews making up rules about FLYING over cemeteries.

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.

Point two, how do they know plastic, which also didn’t exist in ancient times, is the right solution? What if Death Cooties can phase right through plastic?

Some flights go to great lengths to take specific paths to avoid cemeteries.

Point three … uh, really? Really? Do I pay extra so people who are essentially superstitious savages can avoid being polluted by corpses lying in the ground 30,000 feet below?

30,000 feet is 5.7 miles, by the way. Why can they come near a cemetery on the ground (as it says in the article), but can’t be FIVE MILES from it in the upward direction? Although I have to admit, I too would hate to be struck and killed by souls rocketing skyward.

Speaking of pollution, a side bit in the story addresses a separate, offensively sexist issue.

A strict code of conduct prevents Orthodox Jewish men and women from mixing in public, with Israeli airline El Al seeing an increase in the number of religious men demanding to be reseated away from women in recent years.

Yeah, “Women unclean.” Dayyum.



Okay, there IS the issue of the man potentially asphyxiating. But hey. Comedy.

  • MNb

    Perhaps you trust Haaretz instead?


    You’ll also learn that it’s old news ….

  • Jeff

    Another question about the plastic: what is it about the plastic that makes it so much more protective than the metal hull of the aircraft?

  • C.J. O’Brien

    There also seems to be an unfounded idea among modern ultra-orthodox that the idea of tumah or ritual impurity is that you absolutely never, ever knowingly expose yourself to it. But that’s nonsense in the original, ancient Near-Eastern context. There were rules for expiating it, and the sources of it were everywhere. Everyone in ancient Judean society “contracted” tumah from time to time, and you just dealt with it. Hell, the rabbis of the Talmud distinguished Scripture from other, non-canonical para-biblical lituratere as “the scrolls that defile the hands”. That is, a Torah scroll transmits impurity!

    Now, this guy’s a kohen and I take it they fancy themselves priests still, even though they haven’t had a Temple to administer for 2000 years, and priests had a more particular and fraught situation with tumah when the Temple still stood, as they were forbidden from performing any priestly duties or conducting any rituals while in a state of impurity. But, again, there’s no freaking Temple! He doesn’t have any priestly duties.

  • Yup. Comedy (if true). And sad. Seems there’s a lot of that mixture in human affairs.

  • SmilingAtheist

    The problem was………… The bag wasn’t “Air-tight”…