Thursday, December 28, 2006

Israir Still Smelling Blood Despite El Al Agreement reports an agreement between El Al and the Gedolim has been reached. No other updates have been posted yet. In the meantime Israir is not backing down - though they still fly on Shabbos to Europe.

A deal with El Al?
December 26th, 2006
At this time a letter was faxed to the Gedolei E”Y for their approval of the agreement between the Chaireidi Olam and El Al Airlines. It seems that El Al has agreed to the demands of the Gedolim not to fly on Shabbos. As soon as this agreement is signed it will be posted on Yeshivaworld.

Reuters reports:

'Sky Torah' Takes Flight for Israir Airlines

NEW YORK -- Israel's No. 2 carrier, Israir Airlines, is permanently installing a handwritten Torah scroll on board one of its aircraft, marking the first "Sky Torah" in aviation history, the airline said Wednesday.

The scroll, which was created for the airline in Aventura, Florida, will begin its journey to Israel on Thursday with a ceremony at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

At the ceremony, the Torah will be carried under a traditional chuppah, or canopy.

Israir expects the Sky Torah, as the carrier calls it, to be a welcome service for orthodox Jewish passengers on its flights between New York and Tel Aviv, a spokesman said.

The Torah will be housed in a compartment on the plane and will be accessible through a flight attendant.

A Torah scroll, made up of the Five Books of Moses, is the holiest book of Judaism. It takes about one year for a scribe to write a Torah scroll, the company said.

The airline, which operates four flights a week between New York and Tel Aviv, said the onboard Torah will enhance the prayers of its passengers at a time they are closer to God.


One poster to the YW blog - that also posted this story wrote: " that Israir (an Israeli airline owned by entirely by Jews, that is michalel shabbes b’pharhesya every week) has a sefer torah on board, there can be layning on their shabbes morning flights. Let’s auction off shlishi..."

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Rav Shmuel Auerbach, Shlita, Lighting

Or click here to watch the video.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

El Al: The Plot Thickens As Israir Smells Blood

Arutz-7 Reports:

Israir Buying Two Airbus Planes
16:29 Dec 20, '06 / 29 Kislev 5767

( The upstart Israir company announced Wednesday it will be the first Israeli airline to buy the Airbus A320. The firm said it is buying two of the planes for $150 million and will lease Airbuses until the new ones arrive in 2010.

Israir received permission this year to fly regular flights on the New York-Tel Aviv routes and features one-way fares at half the cost of the round-trip cost. Most airlines charge almost the full round trip fare for a one-way ticket.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

El Al Losing 1 Mil NIS A Day, Still Flying On Shabbat

Two reports follow.

Arutz-7 Reports:

El Al Scrambles to Minimize Losses from Hareidi Boycott
Friday, December 15, 2006 / 24 Kislev 5767

Israel’s national airline is focusing its marketing energies on the secular market in the face of an unofficial hareidi religious boycott that is costing the company millions daily.

El Al estimates it is losing at least NIS 1 million per day as a result of the loss of passengers from the hareidi religious public both in Israel and abroad. It may lose more, if the rabbinical leadership abandons talks aimed at resolving the crisis, and calls for an official boycott.

The switch in company loyalties began two weeks ago when El Al chose to allow several flights to depart Friday night after the Jewish Sabbath began.

The decision, made after a 24-hour nationwide strike by the Histadrut National Labor Federation crippled Ben Gurion International Airport along with the rest of the country, caused a firestorm in the hareidi religious sector.

Observant Jews across the spectrum were unofficially instructed by rabbinic leaders to boycott the recently privatized airline in light of its desecration of the Sabbath.

Rabbinic members of the Committee to Preserve the Sanctity of the Sabbath met Wednesday in a continuation of talks with El Al CEO Haim Romano and other top brass in an effort to resolve the standoff.

Rabbinic leaders had instructed its representatives to “do everything possible” to reach an agreement. Romano, for his part, said at the meeting that El Al values its hareidi religious customers, saying the airline would “do everything so that they would continue to fly.”

Despite a statement by both sides after the meeting that the talks were held in a “very positive atmosphere,” little else was accomplished.

The airline is continuing to refuse a request by rabbinic leaders to appoint a rabbi to decide in specific circumstances whether the airline should fly on the Sabbath. Under Jewish Law, only a qualified rabbi can determine when it is permitted to desecrate the Sabbath.

Dozens of travel agencies also met this week with religious leaders at a yeshiva in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe to discuss the issue.

Rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf, one of the participants, maintained that the negotiations with El Al could have been concluded easily. He said the airline simply does not recognize that the Orthodox Jewish public does not want to deal with a Jewish company that does not promise to observe the Sabbath.

YNet Reports:

Despite Haredi anger: El Al again flies on Shabbat
First publication: After weeks of wrangling with Haredim over Shabbat flights, El Al aircraft spotted, photographed, over Tel Aviv on Saturday afternoon. Photograph of flight exclusively obtained by Ynet. Chief of Shabbat rabbinical committee: I am shocked and appalled. El Al: Aircraft was cargo plane on test flight
Eli Senior

While El Al is trying to minimize damages with the Haredi public after flying on Shabbat in an attempt to return passengers who were stranded abroad because of the workers strike in Israel earlier this month, an El Al aircraft was seen flying over Tel Aviv this Saturday.

El Al announced that the flight was a test flight with no passengers and was conducted after the aircraft underwent maintenance work at Ben-Gurion Airport. The rabbinical committee for Shabbat has rejected that explanation and is continuing to call for a boycott of the national airline saying that "Shabbat is Shabbat".

About three week ago, after the conclusion of the workers strike in Israel, several El Al aircraft took off during Shabbat in order to catch up with the delays caused by the strike and to return passengers who were stranded in different airports around the world.

But the Haredim were not interested in the excuses. In response to the Shabbat flights, prominent rabbis announced that they would recommend their followers to boycott the airline.

Although waves of that storm have not ceased, an El Al aircraft was spotted flying over Tel Aviv on Saturday at around 1:30 p.m. and was photographed by a visitor to the Ramat-Gan National Park as the plane was coming in for landing at Ben Gurion Airport.

Ynet has obtained the photo of the illicit flight. Omri, who took the photograph, said that he heard the sound of an aircraft and looked up to find an El Al aircraft. "The war between El Al and the Haredim was just recently in the headlines, so I decided photograph the incident," he said.

Sources within El Al explained that the aircraft had undergone maintenance work during that day, and was due to leave on a long-haul flight that evening after Shabbat had ended.

Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, chairman of The Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat was surprised to learn of the flight. "I am shocked and appalled by the flight," he said. "If an El Al plane flew during Shabbat it is a serious issue. Only today I met with the management of El Al and they emphasized that they are keeping Shabbat, and it does not make a difference if the plane was full or empty. The Torah does not discriminate based on who was on the plane. When you look up in the air you don't know who is in there. This is a violation of Shabbat. It is clear that if we had an agreement with them, these incidents will not occur."

El Al announced in response that "the flight was not a passenger flight but a test flight which was conducted after a maintenance evaluation of the aircraft".

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Testing Blogger Beta

Just upgraded to blogger beta. This is a test. It is only a test. Remain calm. Had this been a real post...


Monday, December 11, 2006

IsraelElectric to be World's 1st Sabbath-Observant Electric Co.

Arutz-7 Reports:

IsraelElectric to be World's 1st Sabbath-Observant Electric Co.
Sunday, December 10, 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767

Israel’s Electric Company is working toward becoming the world’s first Sabbath-observant national electric company.

A meeting last week between Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Israel Electric Company CEO Uri Ben-Nun and Minister for Religious Affairs Yitzchak Cohen (Shas) determined that the company would be made to operate in an automated manner on the Sabbath.

Due to a Halakhic (Jewish legal) ruling by the late hareidi-religious sage Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz (the “Chazon Ish”), many hareidi Jews use private or neighborhood-wide generators to avoid using electricity produced by Jews working on the Sabbath.

On the other hand, the widely-relied upon rationale for using the Jewish-produced electricity on the Sabbath is that it is produced to operate hospitals and save lives, and therefore the resulting electricity can be used by all.

Nevertheless, the entire town of Kiryat Sefer, in Samaria, just across the Green Line from Modiin, uses a large generator on the Sabbath. Smaller generators can be found in Jerusalem neighborhoods, Bnei Brak, Elad and Beit Shemesh. The generators are said to represent a safety hazard.

The automation will cost $10 million a year, and those processes that cannot be automated will be performed by 150 non-Jewish employees to be hired. By solving the problem of the hazardous generators, Infrastructure Ministry officials feel, they will also alleviate the problem of too few non-Jewish workers hired by a state company.

Ben-Eliezer says the cost of the project would be completely recovered by virtue of the electricity to be consumed by the public that currently relies on their private Sabbath generators.

The changes will be implemented in the next six months.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lastest "Sanhedrin" Story

Well it seems somebody is taking them seriously...

Arutz-7 Reports:

Rabbi Ariel Arrested, Released
Thursday, December 7, 2006 / 16 Kislev 5767

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel [left], Jerusalem Temple Institute founder, was arrested for several hours today because of a letter he wrote recommending that an IDF officer not be called up to the Torah.

Rabbi Ariel is a member of the seven-man leadership council of the recently-formed "Sanhedrin" in Jerusalem. Today's arrest is connected with the administrative orders forbidding some 20 men of Judea and Samaria from living in their homes for between three and twelve months. Signed on the original orders was an IDF Prosecution officer who lives in one of the Binyamin area communities.

[pictured above in 1967 Six-Day War photo, from left to right: Rabbi Ariel, the Nazir Rabbi David Cohen, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook.]

The Sanhedrin Rabbinical Court summoned the officer to appear before the court for a Din Torah - a Torah trial - to explain why he issued the orders seemingly in contrast to Torah law. The officer repeatedly refused to show up, and the Court considered taking the measures usually taken in such cases: placing the subject in herem, or excommunicating him. However, in the event, the Court, of which Rabbi Ariel is a leading member, merely sent a letter to the IDF officer's community's secretariat recommending that he not be called up to the Torah until he complies with the Court's order.

Rabbi Ariel then underwent a similar experience. The police called him two or three times, informing him that he must show up for questioning on this matter. The rabbi said he would be willing to be questioned, but not at the police station. Finally, five policemen showed up at his door today, with an order for the rabbi's arrest. They took him to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem.

"The orders said 'arrest warrant,'" Mrs. Ariel later told Arutz-7, "but the leading investigator who came said that it was really not an arrest warrant."

Adding to the confusion, someone who later phoned Rabbi Ariel told this story: "I was able to reach him in the police station. I asked him if he was under arrest, and he said no. Suddenly, I heard someone yelling in the background, 'What are you doing on the phone?! You can't do that, you're under arrest!' And then the phone went dead."

Rabbi Ariel was released around three hours after he was arrested.

Another member of the Sanhedrin, Professor Hillel Weiss, was recently questioned by police, for five hours, on similar matters.

Rabbi Ariel was the head of the Hesder Yeshiva in the Sinai city of Yamit until the city was emptied and destroyed in 1982 in fulfillment of the peace treaty with Egypt. He served in the paratroopers unit that liberated the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall in the Six-Day War of 1967.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Spring Training For Pinchas. First up, DovBear!

Okay – I'm pumped! I've been invited to blog as part of a new mega-blog (stay tuned!) and I've got to get in shape - even if spring is months away. The Blogosphare – especially the JBlog world is like overtime in a Red Wing's game. Fast, cut-throat and brutal. (Okay well it's really not. It's more like Jewish singles barbecue on a Sunday afternoon in July, but I'm pumping myself up, remember?)

The truth is I'm not the confrontational type. But I'm not the type to sit quietly while Jews post misguided, uninformed statements all over the Internet, either. And so I'm reluctantly stepping into an arena I enjoyed much more from the sidelines.

I've once tangoed (not on this blog) with Jewschool and Jewlicous – but they picked those debates – not me. So this is unchartered territory from me. Yet, I'll have to get used to it if I want to bring it up a notch and be involved in some serious blogging.

Enter DovBear. Nothing personal. I read your blog. I disagree often. I acknowledge you are a well respected valiant warrior that always makes his case admirably. Many are swayed by your thorough arguments. I am not. And now and in the future I will tell you why.

Perhaps I will get clocked by the first fastball but here I am stepping up to the plate.

To begin, DovBear asked six foolish questions about a Yeshiva World post which speaks of the Gedolim advising their followers to "distance" themselves from El Al after the airline lands planes on Shabbos last week. YW also posts a brief story about an El Al plane making an emergency landing this week shorly after the warnings and the actions of those on board. See those posts for more details.

Here I answer DovBear's questions. His words are in italics. Mine in bold.

First question: What were all those machers doing on the plane in the first place, if they think "flying on shabbos one time" = "fiery crash" + "hundreds of dead innocents?"

Who said it "equals fiery crash" – you are exaggerating a statement made by Hagoen R’ Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita on his own – not the Vaad Limishmeres Shabbos.

And who said they are all "machers." Perhaps they were like you – skeptics! Have you ever heard Abie Rottenberg's "The Atheist Convention in L.A."?

Furthermore read the wording very carefully. Anyone that learns gemarah knows every word Gedolim say is weighed and the language is very precise. The exact language did not say completely boycott El Al but to “distance oneself from El Al." Much like the Torah does not write "do not lie" but rather "distance yourself from falsehood." There are cases where lies are needed and there are cases when flying El Al would still be allowed.

Moreover Dovbear's assumption that the Vaad Limishmeres Shabbos called on the public to distance themselves from El Al because it's dangerous is flat out ridiculous and does not stem from clear unbiased logic. I am not aware of the reason they gave nor is DovBear according to the information he quoted. For all we know they plan to boycott the airline to stand up for Torah values. If a Jewish airline desecrates the Shabbos we don't need to go out of our way to fly with it. Period.

They were stuck because of economics? Well guess what. Now they get to learn another economics lesson – they will now lose way more money by flying on Shabbos than had they done the right thing and canceled the flight.

Second question: How'd that conversation go? Can you imagine it? Talk about Awkward: "Umm, R' Shteinman? Yeh, it's me. Yossi. Anyway, you know how you said no one should fly El-Al? Well, funny story, but I'm on an El-Al plane right now, and there's been some engine trouble, and, well, you know how you cured Bubbi Sarah's cancer? I'm sort of hoping you can do the same type of thing and take the whammy off El-Al --at least until I get to NY. Let the next bunch of travellers suffer, ok?"

Or maybe... "Hi, it's me DovBear. I thought all you Gedolim were quacks but how about that? I'll be a good boy now."

Third Question: How much schar did R' Shteinman get for not screaming "TOLD YOU SO!" at the top of his lungs? The temptation to gloat had to have been pretty high.

To be fair Rav Shteinman, Shlita – was not the one that said it's “Pikuach Nefashos to fly with El Al.”

Fourth Question: If El-Al makes it through the next several weeks without having a crash, do we say (a) the Gedolim were wrong? or (b) the Gedolim were right but El Al did teshuva?

No. We say (c) DovBear made an incorrect assumption about why the Vaad Limishmeres Shabbos said not to fly. See my answer to number 1.

Fifth Question: If El-Al has a crash, and hundreds are killed do we say (a) God changed his mind about not punishing the innocent with the guilty; or (b) Everyone's guilty of something.

(a) "G-d is not a man that He should lie, nor a mortal that He should change His mind." (Numbers 23:19)
(b) You're assuming you have to be guilty to be killed in a plane crash. You're also assuming being killed in a plane crash is necessarily a punishment. That is a very simplistic Christian notion. Learn some of the Musser seforim that discuss this topic for the Jewish position of this issue.
(I recommend this and this.)

Sixth Question: Will I go to hell if I write on my blog that it was terribly irresponsible for the Gedolim to suggest that El-Al planes are unsafe, and all of their passangers are (until further notice) in danger, just because some tinok shenishba company executive permitted a plane to land on shabbos?

The Gedolim never said that – you just reached your own conclusion. (As for Hagoen R’ Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita – do you have the context of that statement or are you making assumptions there too?)

Second of all, whether or not the El Al company executive is a tinok shenishba is completely irrelevant. The Chardi public that flies El Al is NOT tinok shenishba and if they don't make a stand against this desecration perhaps they will be sinning.

On a related note presumably that executive (who should be canned) is familiar with the rule "the customer is always right." (Actually, being a short sighted Israeli he probably doesn't know it.) The customer does not want your planes flying on Shabbos – you oblige.

Finally El Al and all its employees should certainly know better! They certainly understand they are offending religious Jews. They dug they're own grave and should suffer the consequences of a boycott.

What's that noise I hear? Tower Air revving up its old planes?

So? How'd I do, DovBear?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Video Footage of Beit El