Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Kushners and Flying on Shabbat

From RRW

Without going into naming names...

Here are the issues as I see it.

It is assur to travel on Shabbos on a Jet plane etc.

An exception can be made for extraordinary or extenuating circumstances

This exemption requires a she'eilas hochom.  Usually one's "poseik"

That poseik - or his "successor" - decides what course of action to take.

What if that poseik is WAY too meikel? I'm not sure what to say. I've refused to use many kullos offered me or to my family, v'ain kan m'komo.


I'm wondering out loud‎: 

‎Assuming no d'oraisso was transgressed,  if "muttav shyihyu shog'gim" might apply. It seems to NOT apply with m'lochos d'oraisso. But what about g'zeiros d'rabbonon?  What are the parameters. EG does it apply to Amira l'akku"m?


My havrussa related an email he got from someone who used to serve in government - who felt that this was NOT a valid heter and that a kiddush Hashem would have been made had they left  a day early.

My havurrsa is a lawyer. I asked him: "do you know the facts of this case?" he replied: "no." the discussion ended there.


What we can do:

We can say to the public that -regardless of whether their actions were acceptable or not - that any POTENTIAL heter would require a special exemption by a qualified posek.

If we make that clear, we can do "damage control". This case can then be used to emphasize how it may be done within Halachah.

IMO, the most positive aspect of this ma'aseh is to make this into a "teaching opportunity".


I recall many years ago when the Satmar community conducted a levaya on the first Day of Shavuos on a Friday. R Mordechai‎ Schnaidman, then of Mt. Sinai in Wash Heights, gave a shiur explaining RMF's sheetah in Igros Mosheh  re: levayos on the 2nd day of Y"T.   

Despite RMF's p'sak, some communities do continue to conduct levayos on the 2nd day of Y"T middina d'gmoro.

1 comment:

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

There are indeed many issues involved in such a psak and clearly it demands the consideration of a chacham -- and I hope that whoever responded to the shaila was someone of a stature to do so given the public nature of it.

What I, though, find of particular interest in this matter is how people see the laws of Shabbos and how this effects the whole issue. To the general populace, traveling in a jet on Shabbat is seen as a major transgression and the idea that a dispensation was given is seen as a major allowance to the Kushners. In terms of the actual halachic issues, though, while there may be many of them in fact, they would be mostly d'rabbanan and if there is d'oraita issue, it most likely would not be regarding an issue that the general populace would even think about.

There is no doubt that this is an issue worthy of investigation and discussion. The further issue is that, in many ways, the general populace sees the whole matter very differently than the halachic world sees it. Bridging that gap is part of the problem. It must be, as Rabbi Wolpoe stated, a 'teaching opportunity' for it is a chance to truly present the essential nature of Shabbat.

Rabbi Ben Hecht