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Jan 22, 2012

Is El Al At Fault For Someone Else Getting On The Plane Too Close To Shabbos?

This is a good example of why I was always taught by my parents not to fly on a Friday, why I always make sure when going somewhere on a Friday to leave enough padding time for emergencies, and why rabbonim have called many times for people to not travel too close to Shabbos.

According to the report on Kikar given by one of the religious passengers, a flight (El Al) from London to Tel Aviv was supposed to take off on Thursday afternoon. With an expected flight time of 4 hours, that should have presented no "Shabbos problems" for anybody. Due to a crazy storm the flight was delayed, delayed again, and delayed even more. Finally Friday mid-morning they got permission to take off. After yet more delays they eventually landed in Israel just 40 minutes to spare before sunset. With the plane still needing to taxi in, and get everybody off and through the airport, they got out just minutes before Shabbos began. That's not very helpful for people who do not plan on spending Shabbos at the airport itself.

So, El Al was not mechalel shabbos. Despite their best efforts at getting in early enough, they clearly were limited by circumstances beyond their control. Yet, according to the article, people are complaining about how El Al  mistreated them, didn't make them stay in London, risked causing chilul shabbos, left them stranded in the airport, etc.

All true, perhaps. I would not be so quick to lay the blame at El Al's door. I mean, after already 19 hours of delays was he so sure that there would be no more delays? People need to take responsibility. Besides for poor treatment (there are complaints about when food was served, etc that i dont care about), all these people knew they were getting on a flight that was already seriously delayed and was now going to be landing very close to Shabbos - any further delays would put them at risk. These adults got on the plane knowing that, and now are blaming others for letting them fly.

People need to be responsible for their decisions. El Al flew and landed before Shabbos. If someone felt their observance of Shabbos was going to be at risk they should not have gotten on the plane. As soon as they saw how close the already delayed flight would be getting them in, anybody concerned should have made alternate plans.

And don't travel so close to Shabbos!

9 comments:

  1. In the past I've heard that when planes were delayed and came close to Shabbat, Kfar Chabbad sent people to the airport with a contingency plan to either provide food and services at the airport, if the plane landed too close to Shkia, or if time allowed, to bring people to Kfar Chabbad which a few minutes from the airport (may even be within the Tchum Shabbat - not sure).

    If people were stranded at the airport in this story, did Chabad not jump into action?

    Also, I believe that Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzhak is within the Tchum of the airport - not sure why they leave it to Kfar Chabad to do Hachnasat orchim if there is an unscheduled delay.

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  2. "If people were stranded at the airport in this story, did Chabad not jump into action?"

    ?אם אין אני לי מי לי

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  3. How does anyone possibly blame El Al for this? At any time, anyone could have made the decision that they were not going to board. Decide for yourself what time is the latest you'll be willing to leave and tell the airline in advance that if they can't leave by that time, you're going to have to pull off the flight.

    Shabbos is Shabbos. If it's important to you, don't mess around. And if you do, certainly don't blame someone else!

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  4. "If people were stranded at the airport in this story, did Chabad not jump into action?

    Also, I believe that Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzhak is within the Tchum of the airport"

    Why this overweening sense of entitlement, Michael Sedley?

    The charedi travelers already knew that their arrival would be perilously close to Shabbat.

    If they were sooo observant they could have made plans to reschedule their flights.

    Why should the good people of Kfar Chabad have to drop everything (a few minutes before the beginning of Shabbat), rush over to the airport, feed and house those feckless travelers - at the Chabadniks' own expense, mark you - just because those frummers did not have the nous to plan their journey properly?

    Rafi G's Mom was quite correct when she told her little boy never to travel on a Friday!

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  5. the issue isnt really what did they do, who was available to help, etc. It seems everybody was ok. They walked to Bnei Braq according to the article. Some people took care of them. It seems everyone worked out a solution. The issue is getting on the plane knowing it will land very close to Shabbos (even if they thought they would have an hour or two leeway) and then blaming El Al for allowing the flight to fly that close to Shabbos.

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  6. Kol hakavod to Rafi G!

    He has this fantastic knack of being able to defuse any feribble with his calm, cautious and diplomatic manner.

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  7. I couldn't agree more, if people can take the next flight (post-shabbes) out with no charge, they should not take the risk.

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  8. My husband was in this situation on a flight from NY to TLV. The flight was supposed to leave Thursday night and arrive Friday morning but was delayed due to weather in NY. His Rav told him to get on the plane only if it is currently scheduled to land at least 2 hours before candle lighting. So he listened to his Rav and boarded the flight. After everyone boarded the flight was delayed further and the airline would not let anyone off the plane. Was that irresponsible of him?
    BTW, he did make it home before Shabbos in the end. He was prepared to leave his luggage at the airport and run but he didn't have to.

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  9. he asked his rav, so I would have to say no. Personally, I would not have gotten on the plane.

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