Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Bulkhead - By Dr. Yaakov Brawer

There are Chassidim who relish davening on airplanes. Immediately after takeoff, a Chassid of this breed stands up in the aisle (the farther forward, the better), intones a thunderous brachah, and with a great sweeping motion, envelops himself in a tallit, causing nearby passengers to flinch as flying tzitzit miss their eyes by millimeters. He then prays with an ardor rarely seen in shul, blocking the aisle and attracting the attention of everyone on the plane, and that, of course, is precisely his intent. He is, after all, a Chassid, charged with the mission to reveal G-d's presence within whatever niche of creation he happens to occupy at any given moment. Although the airline is under the impression that it has staged the flight in order to make money, and the passengers think that they are on the plane in order to actually arrive somewhere, the Chassid knows better. The Chassid understands that the objective of the flight is to sequester 150 souls 50,000 feet above sea level so that they can watch him daven and learn that there is a G-d in the world. When finished davening, any Chassid worth his salt works the cabin, entwining Jewish men in tefillin, reminding Jewish women to light Shabbat candles, and exhorting non-Jews to keep the seven Noahide commandments.

Although my admiration for these stalwarts knows no bounds, I am most definitely not one of them. I just do not have the genes. I abhor public display and I can not bear to make a spectacle of myself, no matter how worthy the cause. It goes without saying that I am useless on mitzvah campaigns, except in those instances in which an adult is simply needed to drive the getaway car.

Thus, some years ago, while en route to LA, my stomach knotted up as I realized that I would have to daven on the plane on my return trip.  (Read the rest here.)

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