Saturday, April 19, 2008


One of the faithful behaving badly

It seems that an Orthodox Jew was removed from an airplane at JFK airport on Wednesday, because he wouldn’t stop his prayer and take his seat when he was asked three times to do so by flight attendants. The explanation given for his refusal (in fact, he didn’t outwardly refuse, but simply ignored the crew until he was done with his prayer) was this:

Two friends traveling with the man explained to the attendants that once the prayer is started, it must be finished without interruption, Mr. Brafman [another passenger] said.

All right, now. I get that he takes that particular prayer very seriously. I get that “[i]t says in the Talmud that even if a snake curls around your ankle, you shouldn’t give up.” But, really:

  1. Consider this a dozen poisonous snakes. It’s just not reasonable to ignore the flight crew in this situation. They don’t know what you’re doing, and they have a job to do. Remember that ignoring people and not giving an explanation is bound to make them wary.
  2. The Almighty Omnipotent All-Knowing King of the Universe will understand and will forgive you if you interrupt your prayer because of this. Yes. He. Will.
  3. You know the plane is going to take off soon. If you have a prayer to say that will fry your system board if you interrupt it in the middle, here’s an idea: don’t start it right then. I doubt that the Talmud says that you have to say the prayer at 9:00 exactly, and can’t wait until 10.
  4. You have no right to cause inconvenience to some 150 other passengers. I know that. The flight crew knows that. God knows that. You should know it too.
  5. It’s easy to say that the situation resolved itself and they should have let him stay. But they didn’t know whether he’d disrupt things again, and they needed to get things moving. They decided he wasn’t going to be a further problem, and they put him on a plane in the morning. Good.


Julio Cesar said...


There should be a distinction between in something (adhering to a religion or not) and being overzealous (to become religious)...

You're right: if he knew he's going to pray and he couldn't be disturbed once he started, he had to plan ahead, period.

When your beliefs are distracting from being human you're not pious you're just being fanatical.

Dr. Momentum said...

When you have an infallible invisible friend who can tell you not to stop your magic spell in the middle of it, who knows what else he might tell you to do?