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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part III)

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?
Menachem
 

Summary of our response up to this point: At the outset, we cited the Talmud (Berachot 54b), which quotes R. Yehudah as saying in the name of Rav that four people must say HaGomel: those who have crossed the sea, those who have traveled through the desert, those who were sick and recovered, and those who were incarcerated and set free. We also cited the dispute between Rav Gershon, who opines that only these four people say HaGomel, and Rivash, who rules that people in similar situations say HaGomel too. The Taz and Magen Avraham write that common practice today follows Rivash. Last week, we cited the Gaon Rav Tuvia Goldstein, zt”l (Emek Halacha, vol. 2:7), who writes that he doesn’t say HaGomel after flying on an airplane since air travel is not dangerous. He cites other authorities who agree.

* * * * *

Rabbi Goldstein also cites the Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein who argues that one should say HaGomel after flying (Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chayim, vol. 2:59). Rav Feinstein writes that there is a difference between traveling by land and traveling by sea. Under normal circumstances, people are not particularly worried when traveling by land (whether by automobile, bus, or train). It is the equivalent of sitting in one’s own home.

A trip over the sea, in contrast, is inherently fraught with danger. A person cannot long survive in the water, and it is only the vessel one is in (a ship or plane) that keeps him from drowning. Thus, even though modern ships and airplanes are far safer than ships in the time of Chazal, it is still the ship or airplane that is saving him from danger. Therefore, he must say HaGomel.

Rav Feinstein argues that the danger in flying – on a theoretical level – is even greater than the danger in traveling by ship. If a ship sinks, there is at least a chance that one will survive in the water until one is rescued. The same cannot be said about a plane that crashes. All the passengers will almost surely die in such a case. Thus, a plane, even more than a ship, is the only thing keeping a person from death. His life while flying on an airplane (whether over land or water) thus truly is hanging in the balance.

Rav Feinstein acknowledges that automobile travel is statistically more dangerous than air travel. Yet, this fact is irrelevant to the above analysis. Rabbi Feinstein concludes: I have heard that some rule that one should not say HaGomel after flying, but their ruling is of no consequence. Rather, one must say HaGomel.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part I)

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?

Menachem

Last week we cited the Talmud (Berachot 54b), which quotes R. Yehudah as saying in the name of Rav that four people must say HaGomel: those who have crossed the sea, those who have traveled through the desert, those who were sick and recovered, and those who were incarcerated and set free. We also cited the dispute between Rav Gershon, who opines that only these four people say HaGomel, and Rivash, who rules that people in similar situations say HaGomel too. The Taz and Magen Avraham write that common practice today follows Rivash.

The Gaon HaRav Tuvia Goldstein, zt”l (Emek Halacha Vol. 2:7), discusses this matter at length. At the outset he notes: “My own personal practice in regard to air travel is not to say HaGomel even though we do say it for other miraculous deliverances that are not exactly like the four cited in the Gemara (Berachot 54b), as both Taz and Mishneh Berurah (Orach Chayim 219) note.

“[A person should only say HaGomel] if he actually encountered danger and was [miraculously] delivered from it – e.g., a wall fell upon him or an ox gored him and he was saved from harm. [He says HaGomel if he crossed the sea, etc.] because he passed through a place of danger, even though he did not encounter strong winds. Such a journey is considered dangerous since he passed a place where it is known that dangerous things may occur. Similarly, travel in the desert is fraught with danger; the very place is dangerous. … However, travel by airplane does not entail any danger; thus, there is no reason to say HaGomel.

“Well known is the ruling of the Belzer Rebbe, zt”l (Admu’r HaRav Aharon Rokeach), that a person who travels by air, even though he travels over water, should not say HaGomel. I was also told by a trustworthy person, in the name of the Chazon Ish, zt”l (HaRav Yeshaya Karelitz), that a person should not say HaGomel even if his travel path took him over a body of water.”

Rabbi Goldstein cites from Sefer Kinyan Ha’Torah (Vol. 1, 16:3): “Now let me mention here regarding air travel across a body of water that there are many different opinions as to whether one says HaGomel or not. Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, zt”l (Reb Velevel, the Brisker Rav), was once in Switzerland where I visited him and had the opportunity to ask him his opinion as to whether one says HaGomel in such a situation. He answered me with these exact words; ‘You know that it is known that I don’t issue any rulings, but this let me tell you: I came here by airplane and I did not say HaGomel.’ This is a sage’s practice.”

These gedolim (great sages) did not offer a reason not to say HaGomel. It is unlikely, though, that they agree with Rav Gershon that only the four people mentioned in the Gemara say HaGomel, and no one else. Rather, they likely believe that air travel does not entail any danger.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part I)

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?

Menachem

Answer: I am flattered by your compliment. However, it is not entirely my knowledge but rather my good fortune to have at my disposal the great geonim of the day and their responsa from which I can quote.

First let us review the source for HaGomel. The Talmud (Berachot 54b) states that R. Yehuda says in the name of Rav that four people are required to say HaGomel: one who has crossed the sea, one who has traveled through the desert, one who was sick and healed, and one who was incarcerated and then set free. The Talmud bases this ruling on Psalms 107. The Talmud also rules that one should say HaGomel before a minyan.

Tosafot notes that our custom is to say HaGomel after receiving an aliya. Tosafot also remarks that a “sick person” refers to someone who was bedridden, not someone who merely had a headache or a stomachache.

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 219:9,10) writes that there is a dispute (between the Rivash and Rav Gershon) whether only these four people say HaGomel or others do as well. The Rivash argues that people who find themselves in similar situations also say HaGomel. He concludes that people should say it without saying Hashem’s name.

Both the Taz (sk 7) and Magen Avraham (sk 10) write that common practice today is to say HaGomel in all “similar situations.” Presumably they mean saying it with Hashem’s name.

The question now arises: What constitutes danger? Who is considered to have been delivered from danger? The text of the Mechaber regarding “similar cases” points to cases of unusual danger. Your point is well taken that, statistically, air travel is safer than automobile travel, yet we know that a person who reaches his destination after traveling by car does not say HaGomel since driving is considered a normal activity by today’s standards. Furthermore, driving is not considered unusually dangerous, notwithstanding the fact that there are many careless drivers on the road.

The Mechaber (ibid. 219:7) writes that in Germany and France one did not say HaGomel when going from one city to another, since the blessing is only recited by those who travel in the wilderness where wild animals and robbers roam. However, he adds that HaGomel was said in Spain because all the roads there were considered dangerous.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Israel Gives Security Lessons to Airport Security Execs

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Israel may be a pariah on the world stage when it comes to votes in the United Nations, but “secretly” it is apparently a great leader when it comes to keeping a country’s population safe. Security personnel have been streaming into Israel for years already to learn the ABC’s of keeping their countries safe, starting, of course, with the gateways to their nations — the airport.

Now, in light of the recent crash of EgyptAir flight MS804 and worldwide terror attacks, it’s no surprise to find airport executives from 40 nations are set to arrive in Israel next month.

The international airport representatives will arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport – one of the world’s safest – where they will learn first-hand about creative security procedures.

Since 1972, there has not been a single hijacking incident from Israel. But unless you’re very, very watchful, you would not notice the numerous security layers through which every individual passes at the airport. As such, security at BGI doesn’t disrupt the flow of traffic, nor does it do much to bother the traveler passing through the terminal.

The BGI Airport Security Operations Center, for example, is the heartbeat of the airport, monitoring every flight and checking the background of every passenger and flight crew member who is to pass through Israeli air space. Red-flagged individuals merit special attention and there are at least ten of those per day, according to a report by The Tower, quoting CNN.

But you’d never know it – in fact, one cannot even find it.

Earlier this year Israel also issued an additional security directive to airlines that fly to the Jewish State in order to address other potential threats such as the terrorists who recently were responsible for bringing down a Russian airliner last year in the Sinai Peninsula.

Those include insiders working at airports and resorts with access to passengers’ luggage.

Or, for that matter, airline personnel and cabin crew themselves, such as the depressed Germanwings co-pilot who became suicidal while flying a passenger plane. He took an entire aircraft filled with passengers along with him into death in March 2015.

Israeli security methods work partly because the system is flexible and responsive to dynamic situations, according to aviation security expert Shalom Dolev, who spoke with CNN.

By the time a passenger has reached an airline check-in counter, that individual has probably already passed up to five security checks, usually noticing only three: the initial entry point at the gate, the security check to allow the passenger in to the line for check-in, and the security officer who asks the “annoying questions that make no sense” before one reaches the check-in counter.

When those 40 airport executives leave Israel, they too will understand those “annoying questions” a little better — and perhaps begin to implement similar strategies in their own nations.

Hana Levi Julian

Apparent Explosion Tore Apart EgyptAir MS804

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

It appears there may have been an explosion on board EgyptAir Flight MS804 that blew apart the aircraft, twisted it into pieces and then sent it crashing into the Mediterranean Sea last week.

Search and recovery personnel have found body parts, unused life vests, bits and pieces of other equipment, and luggage. The images have been released by the Egyptian military. At least one memorial has been held at an Egyptian Coptic Christian church for a flight attendant whose body has yet to be recovered. Her mother called her a “bride for heaven,” media reported.

Flight data filed through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was received from three independent channels, according to The Aviation Herald website.

ACARS is the system used to routinely download flight data to the airline operating the aircraft.

The flight data showed that at 02:26 local time on Thursday (00:26 GMT) smoke was detected in the toilet of the jet. Smoke was reported also in the avionics bay and in one of the lavatories.

One minute later, at 00:27 GMT, there was an avionics alert indicating smoke in the bay below the cockpit which contains aircraft electronics and computers.

The final ACARS message was received at 00:29 GMT, according to the TAH website, and four minutes later the plane lost contact with radar, at 02:33 local time.

France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis confirmed the ACARS data but told AFP it was “far too soon to interpret and understand the cause of the accident as long as we have not found the wreckage or the flight data recorders”.

A commercial pilot who flies an A330 similar to the A320 spoke with Britain’s The Telegraph on condition of anonymity, and said, however, “It looks like the right front and side window were blown out, most probably from inside out.”

Until the main body of the plane and the two “black boxes” that reveal flight data and cockpit transmissions are located the rest of the story will remain a mystery; they are still missing, despite news to the contrary.

No group has yet taken responsibility for the downing of the aircraft.

 

Hana Levi Julian

Sweden Grounds All Flights in Stockholm

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The Stockholm Air Traffic Authority grounded all aircraft on Thursday due to a “network communications” problem.

“No planes are allowed to take off at the moment and we’re taking down the planes in the air,” said spokesman Per Froberg. “It’s a network communications problem.”  Froberg declined to provide further details.

The move came just as Egyptian and French officials were informing media that Egypt Air Flight MS804 had crashed earlier in the day in the Mediterranean Sea. No cause has yet been determined for the tragedy.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Tourists Die in Car Accident in Switzerland

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

An Israeli mother and daughter from Rishon LeZion have died in a car accident in southeastern Switzerland. The two Israelis died after crossing the Italian-Swiss border, while traveling from Milan.

Israel’s Foreign Minister said Wednesday the families were notified overnight.

The bodies of the mother, in her 50s and the daughter, in her 20s, have both been identified.

The Israeli embassy in Switzerland is making arrangements to transport the two citizens back home to Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-tourists-die-in-car-accident-in-switzerland/2016/05/18/

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