Rishon L’Tzion’s Psak Regarding Tefilos on an Airplane

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yyoRishon L’Tzion Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef responded to an inquiry from El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy regarding tefilla on board El Al flights.

In his response, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi explains that it is preferable for one to daven b’yechidus on a flight rather than to organize a minyan. He adds that his father, Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita conducted himself in this fashion on flights as well.

The query is based on the well known dilemma of frum travelers who are at times called to assist making a minyan. Some are fine with it while others feel it may be a chilul Hashem due to the disturbance caused to others in addition to safety concerns to passengers standing and interfering with the plane’s flight personnel who find passing in the isles difficult during a minyan. Others feel that davening with a minyan on a flight is a long established custom which is perfectly acceptable and there is no need to disturb other passengers by doing so.

In his written response to Shkedy, Rav Yitzchak Yosef explains that if there is discussion over davening at one’s seat or organizing a minyan, one should daven alone, especially if organizing a minyan may disturb the sleep of elderly passengers or children.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


41 COMMENTS

  1. It was not a “psak” (halahic ruling).

    It was an “aitsa” (advice on how to manage in the real world).

    The former is based on all sorts of codes, tseuvahs, etc.

    The latter is based on common sense.

  2. The Rishon L’Tzion’s is simply giving over his father’s Psak on this.

    OTOH, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt’l, was asked if one should daven with a minyan on an airplane. He said yes, adding that he does it “all the time.” While strictly speaking it might be permitted to pray at your seat, Rabbi Scheinberg prefers that one pray with a minyan, but quietly in a way that doesn’t disturb others.

    Like most frum Ashkenazim, per my posek shlit”a we hold like Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt’l and we daven with a minyan on the airplane in a non-disturbing manner, just as HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt’l has always done.

  3. #3: No one said anything of the sort. Stop putting words into others mouths. There are other opinions and they are valid even if they are a minority. And those that have a posek that paskens to daven in their seat should follow their posek’s psak.

    But most frum Ashkenazim hold like Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt’l.

  4. This matter is obviously a point of contention. I have it on good authority that the Late Tzadik, The Manchester Rosh Yeshivah ZTL held that one should remain seated on a plane during davening and not make a minyon. His point was that one can not have concentration when standing on a swaying plane, especially if others are getting up and down.

  5. It’s not easy to do the minyon and not
    Disturb people. The chlul hashem is not worth it. I was on an El al plane and saw a gadol doven at his seat. At the same time there was a minyon at the back that blocked the aisle. People couldn’t get thru.

  6. UJM–amazing how u figured out a way to daven on a plane with a minyan without disturbing anyone. I’ve been on hundreds of flights and minyanim disturb everyone around them–frum, not yet frum, flight personnel etc causing countless chilulei hashem. (Not to mention the problem of davening near the bathroom at the back of the plane, where these minyanim frequently take place) Heed the wise words of Rav Yosef. Even yom kippur isn’t mechaper for chilul hashem even when your intentions are good.

  7. As Harav Hagoan Shimon Schwab z”l once said about davening on a plane to a person htat urged him to join the “minyan”
    I DAVENED without a minyan, you davened WITHOUT A MINYAN.

    Many, many Rabbanim say to daven in your seat.

  8. You happen to be talking shtusem about Rav Sheinberg and assume that you heard wrong. Any Bar Das who learns the Sugia can see very plainly that davening on a plane is problematic, a. because of the PSAK that it is a Chillul Hashem and b. although Rav Yosef wont say this in order to be politically correct, it is almost impossible to daven on a plane while standing in a minyan and not be kneged Ervah (hair,skin,chiba brabim etc…) and that is Ossur al Pi the Psak of most Gedoli Haposkim (similar to bentching with a baby that has a dirty diaper on your lap) so it is preferable to daven in ones seat while looking down which might suffice to make your own reshus bshas hadchak

  9. What happens on shacharis during chol hamoed sukkos? Do most “frum Ashkenazim” bentch lulav and say hallel while standing with a minyan? What about hoshanose?

  10. #7 If you’re looking for a way out to daven with a minyan, stay in your seat. Yom Kippur might be mechaper for this. Most charedim try not to miss a minyan thought. I’ve been on lots of flights and there was never a problem with disturbing anyone as the minyanim are always in the back bringing a big kiddush Hashem.

    #10 It doesn’t always work out on a 12 hour flight. Sometimes you must daven on the plane.

  11. Another good argument to bring back ships (a luxury-free no frills New York-Haifa cruise ship, with kosher food, Beis Medrash, and plenty of room for luggage and kinderloch).

  12. Wow. So now there’s a Sugia on it, meaning there is a Mekor in the Gemarah. Also, there is a Machloket HaPoskim, though they didn’t mention if the Geonin got the ball rolling, or which Rishonim first discussed the Sugja. Now, we even have a Nafka Mina in Halachah depending on your ethnicity!
    As Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai wrote in the Gemarah: עתידה תורה שתשתכח מישראל!
    HaRav Yosef was just relaying what common sense would dictate!
    In addition, HaRav Yaakov Peretz shlit”a of Yerushalayim, davens alone on the plane, at his seat.

  13. chevre, get it thru your heads, whatever we do (or don’t do), those guys are always gonna say that it’s those frummies
    if you daven at your seat w/o a minyan, so the guy next to you is gonna punkt then have to use the washroom, and will get mad at you that you can’t move during your 18
    or if you put on a talis, they’ll complain that it’s falling on them
    so forget all these yetzer hora excuses, and do what’s right, and that is, be PROUD of keeping hashem’s mitzvos
    gmar chasima tova

  14. note this article posted on ARUTZ7 in 2004

    Praying Alone, by Rabbi Vozner
    Leading halakhic decisor Rabbi Shmuel Vozner has issued a ruling on public prayer on airplanes: “There should be no minyan [prayer quorum of at least ten men] in a large gathering because there is a fear of danger, as well as disturbance to proper devotion and a disturbance to people who pass by.”
    AAFont Size
    First Publish: 4/14/2004, 3:24 PM / Last Update: 4/14/2004, 9:20 AM

    Rabbi Shmuel Vozner, one of the most widely-respected Halakhic decisors of the hareidi public, has issued a ruling regarding public prayer on El Al planes. In response to a query by the liaison between El Al and the hareidi community, Rabbi Vozner wrote, “There should be no minyan [prayer quorum of at least ten men] formed in a large gathering [on an airplane] because of the fear of danger, as well as disturbance to proper devotion during prayer and a disturbance to people who pass by. Rather, small minyanim should be formed in several places [that will not cause these disturbances].”

    The scholarly rabbi ruled that passengers should try to recite the Amidah prayer – generally said while standing and with particular devotion – while “standing at or next to their seats, and not in the middle of the aisles. But if it cannot be said in this fashion, it is better to sit while reciting the Amidah, and this will be beneficial both for proper concentration and in matters of modesty.”

    Rabbi Vozner added that passengers must adhere to safety instructions to fasten seatbelts “even in the middle of the Amidah… By behaving properly and in accordance with Jewish law, G-d’s Name will be sanctified by us.”

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/60830#.UjDYhMZwrAg

  15. Take your issues up with Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg and the other Gedolei Yisroel shlit”a who daven with a minyan on airplanes. Maybe you can set them straight.

  16. Perhaps it varies on each different flight and circumstances.

    I would imagine that it’s best to consult with the crew.

    And also perhaps some allowances should be made if there’s a man that is a”Chiyuv”. (Yurtzeit etc.)

  17. Why not try davening with a minyan(when possible) while
    SITTING DOWN in one area together. Jusst take a little planning and some gentle, courtious requests.

  18. ayin —

    Rav Scheinberg zt’l encouraged others, who flew coach, to daven with a minyan on the plane. And when I was on the plance with him it was in coach and that’s where we made the minyan.

  19. No. 22 has it exactly right. In some cases, it may be possible to daven with minyan without disturbing the flight attendants or other passengers. However, on most of today flights which are packed and hardly any room to pass in the aisles, stay in your seat and daven with kavanah. The safety of the flight crew and avoiding disruption to other passengers trumps any chiyuv to daven with a minyan.

  20. @ayin that’s funny. reminds me of the time I once went to Brussels on a stop over and was asked by a frum diamond merchant to join him as he pushed his way into roomy business class to daven (he was like me in coach). when I mentioned that I couldn’t imagine that the people who paid 3K+ to be more comfortable would be OK with that he responded “that’s your opinion”.

    I follow the psak of my Rav and posek who have each told me to daven in my seat.

    and any regular person (excluding a real Baal avodah and walking kiddush Hashem) who claims that they have complete kavano davening on a public plane and don’t pay attention to those around them is in the best case scenario not being true to themselves.

  21. #28: For hundreds of years, people who traveled by horse and buggy, amomg them tzaddikim, obviously davened WITH a minyan until they reached town if there were ten men with them in the horse and buggy convey.

  22. don’t decide based on your embarrassment of “looking frum” in the eyes of the goyim or chilonim! –

    NEVER, Decide what is ‘right and just’ ben adom lchavero and be machmir on this. Hashem is honored when we are machmired ‘by adom lchavero’.

  23. …”davened WITH a minyan until they reached town if there were ten men with them in the horse and buggy ….”
    NO KIDDING…. Fact is that MOST of the time they traveled WITHOUT a minyan…Not only that, but the itinerant maggidim traveled WITHOUT a minyan till town, stopping off at inns.

  24. There is something called COMMON SENSE. When people, Jew or Gentile, religious or atheist, man or woman pay top dollar to fly without unnecessary disturbance, they’re entitled to it. You daven to Hashem at the same moment when HE sees the minyan hullaballo all around you, people mocking you, angry at you , you disturbing the flight crew and they possibly verbalizing ridicule to other passengers.It’s a chillul Hashem. Hashem doesn’t want this. Sit in your seat and daven and don’t bother others. Why should this even be a shaylah?

  25. #29…. It may interest you to know that religious travellers in buggies, many on business trips , hardly ever travelled with 9 other religious males in the coach.That was the exception rather than the rule. Please stick to historical FACTS not wishful thinking.

  26. if you daven at your seat w/o a minyan, so the guy next to you is gonna punkt then have to use the washroom, and will get mad at you that you can’t move during your 18 or if you put on a talis, they’ll complain that it’s falling on them so forget all these yetzer hora excuses, and do what’s right,

    NO—–You SHOULD consider the next passenger, you can nicely and respectfully explain your situation with coutersy. It’s actually your YETZER HARAH that’s telling to act like like an uncaring boor . Have a problem with davening on a plane?? Stay home.

  27. #33/35: Great, so we have a solution. If there isn’t 10 Jewish men on the plane there won’t be a minyan, just as when there wasn’t 10 on your horse and buggy.

    We’ll only make a minyan when, well, there’s a minyan. We’ll daven nicely and courteously. That some folks, some Jewish some not, don’t like to see anything too Jewish in their midst is their own issue.

    Just as Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt’l told us to make a minyan on the airplane. And davened with said minyan.

  28. My point was that in certain circumstances you aren’t obligated to daven with a minyan. Yes, just as in the buggy days when LECHATCHILA, frum people did NOT drag others along so that they can have a minyan.
    A plane is NOT a shul.
    Repeat: A plane is NOT a shul.

  29. #37***** “…That some folks, some Jewish some not, don’t like to see anything too Jewish in their midst is their own issue.”

    You can all be very Jewish on my plane for all I care.
    But don’t make a mockery out of my religion.I’m a proud Jew but I respect the others on a plane.You evidently do not , and don’t care.

    I also respect Hashem and the minyan davening in the cabin is a circus…And yes. I’m ashamed .. Bumping into female flight attendants with talit/tfillin yet.

  30. Hear Ye: The difference is that Rav Scheinberg did not tell anyone else to wear multiple tzitzis but Rav Scheinberg did tell people to make a minyan on airplanes.

    I’ll take Rav Scheinberg instructions.