What’s It All About? | Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

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What’s It All About?

By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

Let us all put on our Shabbos finery, today is a great holiday that deserves our participation. It is National Aviation Day in America, a time for celebration and joy. So designated in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it was seen as a good idea at the time. Mr. Wright, the inventor of the first flying machine was still alive and yet his amazing machine had already changed the face of human transportation beyond all expectations. Today we take getting on a plane for granted, our boarding passes in hand, we venture forth to destinations once seen as beyond our wildest dreams. I well remember when commercial flying was first being made possible to the post war middle classes. We would get dressed in our best suits, men in ties, ladies in their finest frocks, it was an occasion, and one dressed the part. Children were put on notice to behave, after all, we were flying, something our parents never dreamt possible.  Well, time and use have spoiled us and today a plan ride is considered an everyday occurrence. Estimates are that currently there are 102,465 commercial flights flying throughout the world daily, nothing can seem more mundane. It all works so smoothly, well that is unless you are booked to fly out of Tel Aviv on flight EZY 1111, then you just may have a problem.

Our family had just such a booking, and what we thought would be a simple trip became a two day ordeal.  It all started when after checking in and inevitable hassle with the luggage, ( you know how your stomach gets that tight ball of fear as your stuffed bag slides onto the counter weighing machine) we stood with our hard earned boarding passes, ready to navigate thru security and passport control. This procedure always puts you on the defensive, questions being asked, your very identity put on trial. Belt-less, often shoeless as well, you stumble thru, finally getting to the next hurdle, the duty free shops. I won’t bore you with my theses on the truth in labelling debate when it comes to the title duty free, I find nothing in these emporiums are free , and the main “duty” involved is my being relieved of whatever funds still lay languishing in my bank account,.

Having maneuvered our way thru all this, we sit down on the hard airport seats and look up expectantly at the information board that is electronically keeping us apprised as to when our flight will be boarding. And wait we did, minutes turned to hours, and the crowd got a bit restless. What’s going on? Our flight has been delayed, no it made a stop on the way over to Israel, no, it will land soon, wait, maybe not so soon, hang on. Our flight was a packed one, every seat spoken for as many were returning from Eretz Yesroel to Manchester after enjoying a holiday in the guaranteed sun of the Holy Land. Children were running about, and as the clock ticked on, parents were growing a bit frantic.

Allow me to cut to the chase, our flight was canceled, and we were told that we could only fly home the next day. Each new hour bought with it a never ending stream of absurd moments that beggared belief. At one point we were told to line up and give our names to a beleaguered representative (didn’t these guys have a list who had checked in for the flight?)

We started to feel as if we were taking part in a hostage situation. After writing down all our names, one airline employee screamed out for us all to listen. He then called out a dozen or so names and announced, “All these people should go to the right, whilst the rest should stand to the left.” This was being shouted out to a large group of Yieden, some of an age to know what such instructions meant to their loved ones. I turned and asked if they would be stamping numbers on our arms next.

We were soon being shuttled to different hotels, all this without water, food nor explanation. Being given rooms in the early hours of the morning was the next hurdle, one chosheva Rav told me he was assigned a room, only to find when opening the door that the bed was taken by a sleeping occupant that screamed out in panic as our Rav exited in haste.

Dear readers, I could go on but just reliving the events of those two days still brings a shiver down my spine. Suffice to say, we were shlepped back to that terminal and made to wait further hours until finally a plane arrived, and we were all granted the zechus to embark and make ready to finally fly to our destination. Of course this didn’t actually happen before the steward of the flight made an announcement that he was sorry for any delay but that any one acting out their frustration on his flight crew would not be tolerated, speak of insult to injury.

One Rav turned to me with painful look in his eyes, as if asking, what’s going on here? We were all weary, tired, demoralised, I thought for a moment and answered with just one word, Ellul!

He looked shocked and then smiled, Yes, Its Ellul, and we are being reminded that Hashem is running this complicated world.

We take so much for granted, appointments being made, places to be, the plane will take off, and land and on we will go with our lives. Well, except everything is in Hashem’s hands, and nothing should ever be taken for granted.

Those couple of days were actually a laboratory on how Yiddisha Neshomahs should act under duress. There was a friendliness, a sense of sharing, and although we were all stressed out, the level of derech eretz was palpably high.

Ellul comes into our lives, often with barely a thought. Our phones bleep their messages, we run to the next appointment, chapping a mincha along the way. Then something wakes us up, beyond the call of the shofar, there is a reality that needs to be touched. The world is about to be judged, Klall Yesroil are being asked to take stock, and yes, the everyday must be sanctified. Our role in this world is to bring the illumination of Kedusha into every corner of existence. Yes, even into that plane stalled on the tarmac of life.


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