Chabad Shliach Puts Tefillin On BOTH Pilots On Flight To Bahamas [VIDEO & PHOTOS]


Rav Kalman Weinfeld, the OK’s Rabbinic Coordinator for the Food Service Department and the Rav of Manhattan Beer, flew to the Bahamas on Monday to supervise the kashering of a restaurant that is hosting a frum group soon.

As he was about to disembark the plane, Rav Weinfeld stopped to thank the pilots and was quite surprised when one responded with “zei gezunt!” Of course, Rav Weinfeld, a Chabad chassid, asked him if he would like to put on Tefillin.

The pilot was happy to have the opportunity to put on Tefillin for the second time in his life and as he was wrapping the Tefillin in the cockpit, the co-pilot walked in and remarked that he is Jewish also. The co-pilot was familiar with Shema and said he recited it sometimes but at age 44, he had never put on Tefillin.

Rav Weinfeld helped him to put on Tefillin also and they celebrated the “Bar Mitzvah” by dancing and singing “siman tov.”

“After the flight, the pilot was in touch, and told me that his family is thrilled that he had a Bar Mitzvah, and said that he would like to keep in touch to learn more,” Rav Weinfeld said.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. Mi kamocha Yisroel . Great story. We should be especially thankful that in accordance with Chabad and FAA guidelines, Rav Kalman waited until AFTER he plane landed before helping the pilot and co-pilot be mekayem the mitzvah.

  2. Beautiful story.

    Small point: The first guy’s yarmulka is clearly caught between the straps and his head. It’s great that he was so inspired and drawn towards yidishkeit etc. but as far as the actual mitzva is concerned he might as well have been wearing a wooden block.

  3. Beautiful story.
    The moral of the story is, always thanks the pilots and staff of every service, even if you paid for it and even if the service was poor, you never know how that could change direction is someone’s life.

  4. Remember that this is the same Rav Kalman Weinfeld Shlita that was also mezakeh ess harabim to make sure that all distributed beer (which is all owned exclusively by a non-religious Jewish distributor, Mr Bergson) should be sold for Pessach. This was a historic breakthrough he accomplished in 2018 with guidance and approval of Rav Hagaon Dovid Feinstein Shlita. Prior to 2018, Mr Bergson had adamantly always refused to sell the beer for pessach and it was a serious halachic problem for the tzibbur.

    This also led to the distributor offering free beer for sholom zochors.

    At the time Rav Weinfeld also put on tefillin with the beer distributor.

    Zchuso godol me’od!

    I guess, whether we want to or not, we all need to recognize the contributions that Chabad makes, not just to our OTD kids and kiruv rechokim and travelers visiting places without established frum communities , but also to the regular olom hayeshiva v’hachareidi.

  5. I once was shomozing with the pilot on the shuttle from the parking lot, He got me upgraded in first class, I didn’t put thipillin on him, but I davened like a mench the next day

  6. Anon21 – “You can’t have a bar mitzva at 44 yrs old. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.” Maybe you don’t know what the words “bar mitzvah” mean? I will go slowly. “Bar” is the Aramaic word for the Hebrew word”Ben”. Hence “Ben Mitzvah”, as in “Ben Torah”. Someone that does a mitzvah is a Ben/Bar Mitzvah, just as someone that learns Torah is a Ben Torah. When it comes to Torah and Mitzvah, we use the prefix “Ben/Bar”. This is distinguished from a shoiteh, that we would NOT call a Bar Shoiteh (that would insult his genealogy), rather we would call him a full wholesome Shoiteh. Although, some excel in that area and may earn an enhanced and glorified title such as “Shoiteh d’Oraysa”, or “Shoiteh l’chol ha’dayos” or “Shoiteh sh’ain lo shiyur”, a title which a comment like yours might earn.

  7. commonsaychel – “I once was shomozing with the pilot… He got me upgraded in first class, I didn’t put thipillin on him, but I davened like a mench the next day.” So you did a chessed for YOURSELF! Do you also give tzedakah to yourself?! (e/g “I once felt like helping people so I reached into my pocket and pulled out a wad of money and placed it into my other pocket”)?!

    TheMir – “The moral of the story is, always thanks the pilots and staff of every service”, so the lesson of this “beautiful story” is to act like a mentch?! Reading comprehension is not one of your best skills. (A “close” second moral you might find is that airplanes are bad for the environment! Not). If that is the moral of this beautifully rich story, then someone is morally bankrupt

  8. ChadGadya – “The first guy’s yarmulka is clearly caught between the straps and his head…as far as the actual mitzva is concerned he might as well have been wearing a wooden block.”

    That is simply fake halacha!

    There is a machlokes Rishonim if one needs to be makpid not to have any chatzizah between tefillin shel rosh and one’s head. Rashba holds that one CAN have a chatizah. Rosh holds that one must not have a chatziza.

    The source of the machlokes is in Zevochim 19b (yes, in Brisk we learn these mesechtos!). The Kohen Gadol wore his tefillin between the Tzitz and the Mitznefes. Rosh says this proves that the tefillin cannot go over the tzit or mitznefes! Rashba replies the tefillin straps could go over the tzitz or mitznefes but then the problem would be that the tefillin wouldn’t be in the proper place.

    So what is the Halacha?

    If someone has a THIN bandage on their head or has a THIN loth on part of his head for warmth (and he will be cold if it is removed), the tefillin straps MAY go over the bandage or cloth (except he should not make the second brocha on the shel rosh). If the bandage or cloth is thick, the shel rosh is not worn.

    So ChadGadya, in your personal life, do you also make up halacha? How can you say that it is like wearing a wooden block?!

    I note that Rav Weinfeld Shlita did NOT make with the pilot the second brocha of “al mitzvas tefillin” on the shel rosh.

  9. Reb G,,

    Actually, technically, Anon21 is right and you are wrong. Just as a “Ben Ir” is resident of a city, so too a “Bar Mitzvah” is one who is a member of those who are obligated in Mitzvos. This occurs at 13 for every Jewish male.
    That being said, the larger less Lomdishe Velt associates “Bar Mitzvah” with conscious choices, and celebration. I think that it is wonderful that Chabad, and others, capitalize on this positive emotion to help unaffiliated Jews feel good about their Jewishness. Situations such as these do not call for pedantic pontification!

  10. RG, See Shulchan Aruch 27:4-5 and Mishna Berura there 16-17.

    The halacha is clearly NOT like the Rashba, although one may be lenient if either a) a bandage or thin cloth is required for an injury, or b) there is no injury but one is so sensitive to cold that one would otherwise have to forgo the mitzva entirely.

    However, I concede that since there is a machlokes, my comparison to a wooden block was an exaggeration.

    (And I also feel that a chabad shliach who is probably quite used to putting tefilin on people for the first and perhaps only time in their lives, should know to look out for this!)

  11. Mobico, the term you referred to is actually “Ben Ha Ir”, not “Ben Ir”. Comparing it to Bar Mitzva it would be “Ben HaMitzva”. The “hey” changes the context and meaning. I could expand but agree with your point: Situations such as these do not call for pedantic pontificating! Likewise, situations as these should not invite nit pickers like Anon21 to do “bdikas chometz” looking for crumbs of uncalled for criticism.

  12. Reb G.
    I was able to daven fresh and rested with a lot of kavah, that is equal in importance to putting on a pair of tehilpin to someone who eat traif that morning

  13. ChadGadya, You wrote “See Shulchan Aruch 27:4-5”. I quote it here, that the Ramo writes that we are NOT makpid if there is a chatziza by the straps, paskening like the Rashba:
    לא יהא דבר חוצץ בין תפילין לבשרו לא שנא של יד לא שנא של ראש
    הגה: ודוקא בתפילין אבל ברצועות אין להקפיד – רשב”א בתשובה סימן תתכ”ז
    In any event, this is not the forum for a halachic debate especially since you conceded that you erred halachacly in your comment
    וטעות לעולם חוזר

  14. ANON21, not answering insures that you aren’t misunderstood.

    However, you did write, “very funny (kidding)”, which is confusing!

    Does the “kidding” negate the “very funny”, meaning, that it isn’t very funny at all? Maybe just plain funny, but not “very funny”?

    Or does the “kidding” provide definition to the “very funny”, meaning, that it is very funny in a kidding manner?

    The term Bar in Bar Mitzvah is like a Bar Daas (a person that has intelligence).

    I would agree with you that someone that isn’t a Bar Daas for 44 years cannot become one at 44 years of age. It doesn’t work. Unless at 44 one becomes Chabad, which means becoming: Chochma Bina and Daas.

  15. It is true that you cannot HAVE a Bar or BAS Mitzvah. Truth be told is if I eat a chocolate BAR at a Bar Mitzvah then in that case I can HAVE a Bar Mitzvah because the chocolate BAR becomes a MITZVAH BAR! I didnt HAVE a Bar Mitzvah rather I BECAME a Bar Mitzvah. My Sister BECAME a Bas Mitzvah! The co-pilot didnt HAVE a Bar Mitzvah however He BECAME A Bar Mitzvah!

  16. DovisBT, the widespread minhag, not mentioned in Talmud but established by Arizal and Kabbalist (and referenced in many Halachic seforim ), is to wrap the tefillin 7 times around the arm.

    IN ADDITION to the wrapping around the biceps and wrist. The straps going from the biceps and to the wrist each add another “1/2 wrap” creating an APPEARANCE of nine wraps – depending on angle viewed.

    Some connect the 7 wraps around the arm to the seven brochas said under a chuppah (see Totzot Chaim and Sefer Matamim, Tefillin 12). Indeed under the chuppah there is an additional brocha of Hagofen on the wine – maybe represented by the two half wraps.

    Likewise some connect the 7 wraps with the 7 sefirot (see Mavo l’Torat Chassidut (Ekstein) and Al Avoteinu V’al Yechusom and Kovetz Makvatzial). Indeed the sefirot also have an quasi “eighth” sefira when one calculates both Keser and Malchus.

    So DovidBT, all men wrap 7 times around their arm but add the additional “transitional” half wraps which could appear as nine wraps to an outside observer. But this raises the question, you should know that from your own tefillin, so why are you trying to use that as a means to criticize (or mock) others?!

  17. Big A, you are kvetching about “becoming” or “having” a Bar Mitzvah, yet you call yourself “Big A” when the “A” is a normal sized Capital A, so you should be “Regular A” or “Capital A”, not “Big A”, which is misleading, unless you are over 300 lbs, which qualifies you for the title “Big” and permits your . My point is that you kvetch about word sand terms used by others, while the same type of kvetching can equally be applied to yourself.

  18. RG,

    Don’t put concessions into my mouth that I didn’t make. I only conceded that my comparison was an exaggeration. YOU are the one who is erring halachicly.

    As for the Rama, the Mishna Berura clearly states that he is only referring to the extra length of strap not requried for the binding, but the primary loops of the shel yad and shel rosh that fix them into place are equivalent to the tefilin themselves, which the Rama agrees may not have a chatzitza.

    (The Rashba that is the source for the Rama’s comment does not actually refer to his main shitta about chatzitza, but to the Rashba’s addition the even though the shel yad has the extra din of “lecha l’os velo le’acheirim l’os”, this does not apply to the extra length of the straps.)

    Please try to be better informed about the topics you are arguing about before you accuse people of “making up halacha”, and NEVER do something as cheap as putting words into someone’s mouth to make it seem like you have won an argument when you haven’t.

  19. ChadGadya,

    The Mishneh Brura (27:17) also holds that long hair is a chatizah to the tefillin shel-rosh (and an issur of bluryos), yet many in the yeshiva/litvish world are not makpid to shave their head (as chassidim do the “triple zero” or even a zero), and they allow their hair to grow in long enough for the Mishna Brura to consider it a chatzizah.

    Tshuvos vHanhogos vol 1 s. 42 speaks of this! That Gedolei Yisroel shut their eyes from speaking out, relying instead on the poskim (Rashba) that allow for a chatzizah. This is accepted among the frum tzibur.

    If indeed a chatzizah disqualifies the placing of the tefillin, then the hundreds of thousands of bochurim and kollel men that have longer hair (then a chassidish “baldie” haircut or at least a crew cut) are R”L never yotzeh the mitzvah of tefillin, as a karkafta dlo monach tefillin, C”V to say that about the yeshivish/litvish Klal!!

    Let us be melamed zchus on the hundreds of thousands and accept the Rashba (and other heterim) that these Bnei Torah and shomrei Torah fulfill their mitxzvah of tefillin daily, even with a chatzizah that the Mishne Brura prohibits, they fulfilled their mitzvah 100%.

    And let us be AS generous to those that are not yet frum but are willing to put on tefillin, that if they have a minor chatzizah from the yarmalka – that the mitzvah was done properly, without any criticism.

    Why would you hold a non-religious Yid to a higher standard then you would hold Yeshiva and Kollel yidden?! Adarabah.

  20. While on topic of Bar Mitzvah, does anyone know:

    (1) Why it is called “Bar” and not the Hebrew “Ben” Mitzvah?

    (2) Why is it called in singular Bar “Mitzvah” – one (is there maybe a particular?) mitzvah and not the plural Bar “Mitzvos” – obligated in ALL mitzvos?

    (3) Why is such a name not given to other occasion, like the boy who is 8-days old isn’t called a “Bar Bris”?

    (4) Why do we call him a Bar Mitzvah and not instead use the Torah term of “Ish” or the halachic term of “Godol” or “Bar Chiyuvah”? (is it maybe that we are uncertain he reached the qualification of “bais sa’aros”, but that uncertainty is equal regarding being a bar mitzvos?)

  21. DividBT, In Shulchan Aruch OC 27:8 – ונוהגין העולם לכרוך על הזרוע ששה או שבעה כריכות (The custom is to wrap [the strap] around the forearm 6 or 7 times).

    Halachic seforim (see Siah Yitzhak Siman 5):
    ועל הזרוע שמונה
    כריכות, כי כריכה ראשונה אינה במילואה ואינה נחשבת


    The Magid of Trisk z”l would guide a bar mitzvah boy to wrap tefillin strap 3 times on bicep and 8 times on arm (till wrist) because the first wrap on arm is incomplete and doesn’t count…he said: THis is what I do, and so did my father, and so did my grandfather, and so did the Baal Shem Tov, and so did the Arizal, and so it was passed down from Eliyahu Hanovee zal.

    Hence, we have mentioned 6, 7 or 8 wraps (and then the additional incomplete wrap on wrist – making it appear as nine).

  22. RG,

    Once again it seems your emotional need to find a bone of contention has clouded your comprehension.

    Firstly, it is ridiculous to imply that anyone who does not shave their head with a number zero is chotzetz according to the cholkim on the Rashba. Even very long hair does not automatically constitute a chatzitza. Do you really think that the Rosh would agree that Shimshon HaGibor was never mekayem the mitzva until his wife cut his hair? It is only a chatzitza when one cannot say “haynu ribisayhu” meaning “this is the way of its [natural] growth”.

    This can be in one of two ways, either a) by being so long that it is not considered normal by social standards and is thus considered “omeid likotzeitz” (thus not applicable until it is so long as to be not generally socially acceptable, and certainly not applicable to a nozir), or b) by being brushed into a position into which it would not naturally fall.

    So yes, those men who are going bald and comb over hair from the sides of their head to the top, or those who brush their frontal hair backwards over their head, are indeed not being mekayim the mitzva according to the halacha (which does NOT follow the Rashba, remember). Only a very small minority of the yeshivish people that I have observed fall into this category.

    The Teshuvos Vehanhagos you quoted does NOT mention the Rashba at all. He is also not even talking about either of the two above mentioned ways that the hair can be considered not “haynu ribisayhu”.

    Instead he understands the Machatzis Hashekel (quoted in the mishna berurah you mentioned), who just says “long hair” without qualifying that it must be socially outside the norm or brushed out of place, as meaning that the prohibition of “shachatz vega’ava” (that the Machatzis Hashekel mentions first) is itself is enough to make the hair considered “omeid likotzeitz” even if it is still a socially acceptable length.

    He is then melamed zechus on those people and says that the rabbonim did not protest because their intentions were not for “shachatz vega’ava” but instead to be more accepted by their families, and therefore since no prohibition was being transgressed it was not “omeid likotzeitz”.

    But he specifically says that this heter is only if their is no another reason to make it not “ribisayhu”, such as brushing the hair backwards out of place!

    So you see that the Tesuvos Vehanhagos actually clearly implies that the Rashba is not to be relied on lehalacha, otherwise he would have brought it as a much simpler limud zechus, and it would even apply to those who brush their hair backwards!

  23. ChadGadya. your “raya” from Shimshon Hagibor (and indeed any nozir or avel r”l) is mentioned in poskim as an EXCEPTION to the ruling that hair grown to any length is a chatziza (they explain that such hair is grown for halachic purposes – hence not a chatziza).

    Even sweat on the head, wetness (or a dead lice) or dye or powder applied on the hair/head is mentioned in poskim as a potential chatziza, if not for relying on the shita of the Rashba. Other poskim use a heter of “noy” (beauty) isn’t a chatziza – hence dye or powder would be permissible, but such a heter would apply also for a yarmalka (which is “boruch ata …oter yisroel b’sifara”).

    But you have come a long way from your original claim that if a small part of the yarmalka is under the shel rosh strap, “as far as the actual mitzva is concerned he might as well have been wearing a wooden block”!

  24. Emes liYaakov OC 27:note 31 says even though the Rama 27:4 based on the teshuva of the Rashba 1:827 says one does not need to worry about barriers except for between the skin and the boxes, that if one is accustomed to removing their wrist watch one should continue doing so, as there are some poskim who are stringent on barriers on any part of the arm or head Tefillin.

    The clear implication of this possek is that one need not worry about chatziza between the straps and the head.

    Yechave Da’as II, 2 points out that mourners have to grow their hair at least for thirty days and some do so for twelve months, yet the poskim do not warn about tefillin. He also points out that there is a sfek sfeka (double doubt) pointing that hair is not a problem of chatzitza, as the Rashba (Shut III, 282) also suggests that chatzitza is a problem for tefillin shel yad but not shel rosh.

    This clearly implies that this posek (and others) rely on the Shita of Rashba.

    Regarding long hair, indeed the Machatzit Ha-Shekel says that long, thick hair on the forepart of the head would pose a problem of chatzitza for tefillin. However, if the hair is short and thus creates only a thin layer, there is no problem.

    BUT Peri Megadim rejects the distinction of the Machatzit Ha-Shekel. Any hair brushed from its original location, which would include a tchup and common styles worn by Litvish bochurim and kollel men where hair is combed or brushed to the side, IS a chatziza.