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The Day the Future Rosh Yeshiva of Novardok Didn’t Make a Bracha on What He Ate on the Plane

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

A Mitzvah to eat – and yet no bracha was recited.  The current Rosh Yeshiva of the Novardok Yeshiva in Brooklyn, Rabbi Yaakov Drillman once performed a huge Mitzvah of eating – but didn’t recite a bracha on it.  How could this be?

First, some background.

The hijackings were meticulously planned by the notorious Leila Khaleed a rashanta of the highest order.  Terrorist leader George Habash had started his organization called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and on Sunday Sept 6th – the fifth of Elul 1970, five hijackings took place.  [Actually one was thwarted by a hero pilot]. One of the hijacked flights was  TWA flight number 741.  The flight originated in Tel Aviv and  and was headed from Frankfurt, Germany, to New York.  It was diverted to a former British airfield in the middle of the Jordanian desert.

On that flight was Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l, his son in law, Rav Yonasan David shlita, Rav Hutner’s daughter, Rebbitzen Bruriah David a”h, and two of Rav Hutner’s talmidim Rav Yaakov Drillman and Rav Meir Fund.

The flight was hijacked.  Near the two Chaim Berlin talmidim was eight-year old Tzipporah Moran travelling with her mother.  According to one version, her mother was mortally frightened as her daughter’s documents had Hebrew all over them.  According to another version, she was travelling alone.  Regardless, the then 19 year old R’Yaakov Drillman calmly and slowly took the documents and began ripping up the papers into smaller bite-size pieces.  He then ate the documents that would have put young Tzipporah Moran in even graver danger.

Perhaps what happened on that flight was an example of one of the greatest Mitzvos of eating that every occurred.  And not just one Mitzvah but several.  The Mitzvah was that of Pidyon Shvuyim – and the Rambam writes that whoever performs it fulfills no less than eight Mitzvos.

1] Lo saametz es Levavcha – Do not tighten your heart(Dvarim 15:7)

2] veLo Sikpotz es yadcha – Nor shall you tighten your hand (Dvarim 15:7)

3] Lo saamod al dam rayacha – Do not stand idly by your brother’s blood (VaYikra 19:16)

4] Lo yirdeno beferech leainecha – Do not let him go down in excessive labor in front of your eyes (Vayikra 25:53)

5] Pasoach tiftach es yadcha lo You shall surely open your hand for him (Dvarim 15:8)

6] Vechai achicha imach – And your brother shall live with you (Vayikra 25:36)

7] Veahavta lerayacha kamocha –love your friend as yourself (Vayikra 19:18)

8] Hatzel lakuchim lemavais – Save those taken toward their death (Mishlei 24:11)

And yet the Shulchan Aruch (OC 202:2 and MB 19) unequivocally rule that no bracha is recited.  Rav Yaakov Drillman shlita is not only an outstanding gadol and Rosh Yeshiva, but a remarkable hero as well. The author is honored to host two of his talmidim for the Shabbos Seudah this evening.

What happened that eventually precipitated the release of so many hostages?

Watch this video to find out.


The author can be reached at [email protected]

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