Man in Bag On Airplane and His Rosh Yeshiva Speak Out On Media’s Ignorance


kohein-in-plastic-bagThe frum man who was photographed wrapped in a large plastic bag during an El Al flight told Yediot Achronot yesterday that he was “simply following the p’sak of his rov.”

The picture grabbed the attention of the perplexed international media, which ignorantly postulated that the man was “distancing himself from women in accordance with strict rules of gender segregation in public.”

The out-of-touch media was later informed that, no, that’s not what the man was doing at all, but, rather, the man is a kohein, and as the plane flew over a cemetery, he covered himself in the bag due to tumah concerns.

This man spoke to Yediot following the recent tumult and discussed his history.

He related that he served for many years in the IDF, where he held sensitive posts. In 1983, as a show of appreciation, the Air Force commander gave him the opportunity to study in a yeshiva at the expense of the Air Force, which, he said, paid his salary for the two and a half years he was in the yeshiva.

After his studies, he returned to the army for 10 more years – “an unprecedented move in the Air Force,” he says.

While the photo was the subject of public criticism and was shared, condemned and mocked on social networks, Rav Yosef Brook, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Nesivot Olam and rosh yeshiva of the aforementioned kohein, blasted the media coverage of the picture and the foolish public reaction to it, saying, “I am convinced that none of those who reacted is at (the kohein’s) personal or intellectual level.”
Rav Brook told Yediot that he has known his talmid for more than 20 years, and that the halachic move was misunderstood by the ignorant critics, who he refers to as “primitives.”

“I have known him for 25 years now. He is a retired lieutenant colonel who served in senior and classified positions in the Israel Air Force,” Rav Brook told Yediot.

“Before Pesach he flew to Eretz Yisroel, and because of a change in the flight, he found out that he would be flying over a cemetery. He consulted a rov, who ruled that although the plane is a closed place, there is tumah over the cemetery.

“Once again, the familiar scenario repeats itself: Any issue related to halacha turns into a festival of defamation,” added Rav Brook. “Anything related to cultural heritage, which is not understood, leads to a mocking and slandering attitude. The rule says that the more you know less, the more you shout, and this is what happened in this case too,” he told Yediot.

“If a person from the Zulu tribe would see me talking into a telephone, he would think I had gone mad, because he can’t understand how sound waves can travel hundreds and thousands of kilometers. He has no understanding of electromagnetic radiation either, because he can’t see it with his eyes.

“The same way, there is also a spiritual system of impurity and purity, and we don’t have the ability or tools to identify its activity. So I say to the critics: If you have no knowledge about the issue, do us a favor – leave us alone and treat us kindly and politely.

“Just like people understand Muslims who take their shoes off before entering a mosque and don’t ridicule them, just like they understand that Christians remove their head cover while entering church, treat Judaism with a minimum of respect.”

The response of the kohein and Rav Brook would seem to contradict the claim of El Al representative Sheryl Stein, who told the Gothamist website that the much ballyhooed photo is ten years old.

{ Israel News Bureau}


  1. Are not bodies to be buried in eretz yisroel on the plane? How is this not a problem and yet flying over a cemetery is a problem? How much air space does a cemetery have? Do we have a similar problem flying over har habayis?

  2. Commonsense ,
    There are several regular “kohanim” flights that do not fly with dead bodies.

    Tip to Matzav – If you are confident that you’re arguments are strong, you do not need to attack your opponents with as many charged adjectives as you use here (ignorance, perplexed, ignorantly, out-of-touch, ignorant, et al). Let your arguments speak for themselves.

  3. to #1. if you would stop “sharing the burden” and go learn in yeshiva, you might might actually know the answers to your questions.

  4. Can someone clarify:

    Is this a recent picture as noted in this article, or is it ten years old as reported yesterday??

    Noone uses anyone’s name. Noone saw it. But EVERYONE knows the person who sat next to him.

    There is SO MUCH confusion on the most important picture. How can life go on until all of this is resolved?? We MUST have answers!!

  5. I imagine on any long flight (N.Y. to L.A.) the plane probably flies over some cemetaries. Some larger and others smaller. From London to Tel Aviv the same thing. How is a Kohen permitted to fly then? No stupid answers please.

  6. To #8:

    The person might know as much as halacha as you do, but I’m certain that he or she isn’t as rude as you are. Abe, Torah without middot is not Torah.

  7. to #12 joseph- you may be right that i am being rude in this forum. however that doesn’t prove that i am generally rude . anonymous statements on this website are against torah philosophy, and you may respond to them rudely.

  8. #2u are totally ignorant of Jewish law I would suggest u learn about before making pronouncements. If a Cohen can go into a cemetery in a box then he can fly over a cemetary six
    Nice he is in a closed box. Gues u need to know Halacha before u talk

  9. comment to abe i disagree u r never supposed to be rude.
    it smacks of gaiva ..also not good.
    as far as telling people to go learn in a yeshiva i suggest that you be the one to start.

  10. I have yet to see someone demand middos on one of the dozens centrist /modox sites.


    The commenters here are held to a higher standard

  11. Just curious, so does that mean that the bag wearing was only for a short amount of time? In other words, over the Atlantic and Europe or what have you, he didn’t have to wear the bag?