Jan 21, 2010

a wire device (video)

Is there really a flight attendant anywhere in America that has not seen Jews put tefillin on during a flight and doesn't know what they are? Really? I thought America is such an enlightened country!

The BBC description is pretty funny:
CBS News said a passenger had strapped a wire device from his fingers to his head after takeoff. He was taken into custody after landing, it added.

I guess the stewardesses ignorance can't be helped, or blamed on anybody, as the guy did nothing wrong. But at least he is described as being "non-disruptive, totally polite and of course didn't make any threats to anyone.."

Addition: I was just thinking that this guy wearing tefillin caused the plane to divert and make an emergency landing. Perhaps, and nobody has any way of knowing (so you can't contradict me), this is an example of the Gemara in Nidda 31a that describes how frequently Hashem performs miracles for people, saving them from calamity, in ways that they are not even aware of. The gemara there describes a guy who missed his ferry. Later the boat sank. Perhaps the plane was diverted in order to avoid some calamity, in the merit of this guy who performed his mitzva diligently.


  1. A month ago, I wore my Tefillin on a plane from LaGuardia to Ohare without a problem.
    I believe they train flight attendants about this. Maybe this one slept through that class.

  2. Honestly, I would not be at all surprised if the majority of American flight attendants had never seen tefillin. There's probably quite a few who have never even seen anyone they recognized as a Jew.

    I know quite a few people in the midwest who simply have never encountered a Jew or, if they have, didn't know it (until they learned that I am a Jew, of course...).

  3. You know, when I first heard this on the radio I immediately thought about a wholesome frum Jew putting tefillin on and davening .......... with a stupid ignorant leftist stewardess totally out of control !!

    This is a siman from shomayim! What we do with it is our choice.

    I didnt view the video yet, will do that next.

  4. Interesting addition....
    there's so much we will never know...

    (though on a lighter note, I bet that his mother is nudging him today by saying, "You see?? This is what happens when you oversleep a minyan!!!" {grin} )

  5. On a past flight I specifically went over to to the attendants, told them I'd be praying which involved putting on tefillin - Jewish black boxes on my head and arms. Just to avoid such an occurrence.

  6. or maybe it's an example of an idiot being selfish on a plane. R' Cohen has said publicly, that since 9-11, there is no reason to put tefillin on on during a national flight. you can put them on before or after and daven without them for the rest of the tefillos. psak halacha. this "frumma" mentsch could have davened with tefillin in the airport or when he got off.

    I guess youy could say then rafi, shomer pisaim hashem, because boy is this guy a fool.

  7. I agree with Shaya, though not as harshly. We are incredibly ego-centric about these things. Why on earth should the average US citizen know anything about tefillin. It's not a kippa which is worn out in public most of the time. This is something, that 99% of the time is worn in a shul or the privacy of one's own home.

    Israeli and New York Jews really think that the world revolves around them.

    Just try, for a minute, to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never seen tefillin before. Add to that the context of being on an airplane in the post 9/11 era, and just weeks after a nut job tried to blow up a plane with a bomb in his underwear.

    I'm not saying that this boy did anything wrong, but some of the responses to this from frum Jews defy logic and smack of a very self-centered mentality.

  8. Pretty silly of all parties involved. The kid could have waited, or explained what he was about to do. The flight attendant should have known, or radioed ground control and asked them to google image search tefillin, and would see balck boxes with straps...

  9. Shaya,

    I think it's a little harsh to call someone a fool because he doesn't follow "R' Cohen's" (is that the rabbinic equivalent of "John Smith"?) public pronouncements. Maybe, just maybe, the guy's got his own Rav.

  10. you are right. I just thought, at first, that on planes it is so common to see someone daven. Plus, stewards and stewardesses are not stuck on one route - they are moved around frequently. So most< i thought, are likely to have experienced it at some point. But maybe it is less common than I thought.

  11. TSA notified their officials to be aware that Jews would be travelling with lulav and etrog before and over Sukkot and they are not items to be stopped. If TSA could handle it, somewhere at some point stewardesses should be informed.

    However, for whatever reason she did not feel comfortable enough verifying the story and went to her superior for a decision. In such a case unless the pilot. If you were on a flight and a pilot gets a report there might be a bomb on board would you not want him to do the same thing? Nobody wants to die because they didn't take a threat they knew about seriously.

  12. yoni r.

    1. R' Cohen is a well known rov from Chicago.

    2. He may well have his own rov, but $100 says he never asked what to do.

  13. Shaya,

    Didn't think you were such a daas Torah-nik, that you feel this guy should have to ask his Rabbi whether or not to daven on the plane with tefillin. Would you have asked the shayla?
    $100 says you wouldn't have.

  14. Actually, I have asked the shailoh. My comment was in response to the comment made that his rov might pasken differently.

    i might or might not be chareidi, that's really irrelevant as MO Jews also ask shailohs.

    My rov last night brought up the story and reiterated the need for common sense by us jews and again, for a local/domestic flight, to at a minimum, let the flight attendants know ahead that you will be praying and wearing this things

    as an aside, I know the boys family and in fact, he innocently did put them on without asking ahead how he should pray. he just figured it was ok to do.

    what form did you study for your Black Belt? There aren't many frum Jews who study such disciplines and I enjoy meeting others who do. My 15 yr old son and I just earned a BB in Hop-gar LLama form Kung-fu.

  15. Shaya I don't get it ... one second you criticize a kid harshly like he was being self-centered etc., the next you say you personally know he was just being a kid and the issue didn't occur to him.

    But ironically I think now stewardesses will need specific education re how to recognize a real Orthodox Jew and real tefilin versus a potential terrorist with fake accessories.

  16. It was selfish what he did, but he was 17 so it was a teenage selfidh, rather than an 30 yr old selfish. He was in his own little world and just didn't think about the ramifications of his actions.

  17. you still live in the US. certainly your English is better preserved than mine, yet I can find several more accurate - and constructive - adjectives than "selfish"

  18. For all of you who are criticizing the kid, that he should have davened before or after, it was pretty early flight, he may not have been able to earlier. And later might have been too late. I don't know how long the flight is from NY to Louisville or the time difference. The point is, maybe that's all he could do. I don't think it was selfish.

    I'm wondering what the next step is. Say he wasn't wearing tefillin. He was davening or saying Tehillim. Most people from the midwest have never seen anyone mumbling words to himself, certainly not from an ancient looking text. So suppose his seatmate looks over and see this. He calls over a flight attendant to say he's freaked out by this person's mumbling - maybe he's saying a prayer to Allah before he detonates something under his clothing. So no mumbling from now on. (I once thought of telling them I'm in a play and I'm trying to memorize my lines.) In fact, you're not allowed to do anything no one has ever seen before. Anything new is automatically dangerous. Where does it end?

  19. fact is the kid did nothing wrong. It is simply a case if ignorance on the part of the staff, the kid not being aware they might not know what he was doing, and being overly cautious.

    It happens. There doesnt always have to be somebody in the wrong.


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