Feb 25, 2007

loophole as wide as a football field

I heard about this "on the street" last night before this was in the news. This morning I saw it in the major media sources, which means the seriousness of the incident will be increased.

An El Al flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv had to make an unscheduled landing due to technical difficulties. The flight landed in London. After some delay, El Al decided to continue the flight to Israel. Upon realizing that the flight would have to land on shabbos due to the timing, they transferred the flight to its subsidiary Sun Dor and put the religious customers up in a local hotel for the duration of shabbos.

According to the recent agreement between the Haredim under the authority of the Organization for the Guarding the Holiness of Shabbos and El Al, El Al has agreed and committed to not flying under the El Al name on shabbos. The Haredim agreed that under any non-El Al name the chilul shabbos can continue, just not under the name El Al because of the symbolism of it being a state company (even though it is not a state company).

Now the Haredim and the above mentioned organization are up in arms over the "fast-one" pulled by El Al to get around the problem of flying in shabbos. El Al has now come up with a great solution - they can fly all their customers on shabbos when ever they feel the need, simply by transferring the plane to the subsidiary Sun Dor. All this chillul shabbos now has the hechsher from the Organization for Guarding the Holiness of Shabbos with all the gedolim signed on it.

Looks like someone is eating crow right now.

Supposedly the Haredi groups are meeting to discuss what they can do about it, inclusing the possibility of re-opening the boycott. I suspect that they will end up issuing a "stern warning" to El Al and threaten them not to do this again, but will not actually proceed with re-opening the boycott of El Al. They must realize that to a certain extent this is their fault and is technically kosher according to the agreement (even if not in the spirit of the agreement) and they will look even worse now if they show everyone how they messed up the last negotiations.

There is qord that some Haredi leaders have personally cancelled their flights on El Al, but there is not yet a call for people in the wider public to do so, other than the Gerrer Rebbe. He has, supposedly, called on people to fly other airlines until this is resolved. If I am not mistaken, he was against the original agreement with El Al and only signed on begrudgingly after Rav Elyashiv said to.


  1. This is not a new loophole for El Al; they've done it in the past. I'm not quite sure how the Committee missed it...

    Do Sun D'Or flights use regularly marked El Al aircraft?

  2. I think this is a good solution on El Al's part. Does the charedi leadership think it's their job to force every businessman who flies El Al, Jewish or not, to keep Shabbat in a situation like this? What will that do for El Al's business? If El Al goes bankrupt will they feel better?

    I know a group of people trying to get summer flights, and they are finding that El Al costs $400 more than the European airlines.

  3. people should be impressed. we jews are always looking for loopholes. e.g. - eruv, pruzbul, heter mechirah, kli shlishi, etc....

  4. I agree with MII: I fail to see why Haredi leaders have anything to say about how El Al runs its business.

  5. the reason is really economics. The haredi market is big enough that they, like any other consumer group, have enough power, so they assume, that they can threaten El Al with taking their business elsewhere, unless their needs are met. The problem I have with it is the manipulation used.


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