I had a unique experience this past Sunday night, one that was shared by thousands throughout the world. Early Monday morning (Israel time), El Al Flight 27 departed Ben Gurion airport destined for Newark, NJ. A technical problem was soon discovered — according to one indicator, the left-hand landing gear failed to rise into the aircraft. The plane then prepared to return for an emergency landing, to be met by over 70 emergency vehicles which streamed in from the surrounding area.
News of this potential tragedy traveled the world with baffling speed. First we received a phone call from a relative of a passenger, asking us to pray for his safety. That was soon followed by a cellphone text and then an email: “URGENT! TEFILOS (prayers) NEEDED NOW!!!!!” People across the globe were whispering prayers, pulling Books of Psalms off the shelf, shedding tears for people they will likely never meet.
Thank G-d the plane landed safely at Ben Gurion, as confirmed by the texts, emails, and Twitter tweets that followed, and the event was shelved to gather dust in the archives of history. It is my hope, however, that the unity, the keen awareness of the small world we share thanks to modern communication, will remain in my memory. That night I began to picture the world as one Kehilla — community — and the virtual Gabbai of this global synagogue had banged on the table urging all the congregants to join in prayer. The congregants dutifully joined in, and all judgement of what type of people were on the plane, their level of observance, whether they drove a Lexus or a Chevy, were set aside. We spoke with a relative in Los Angeles soon after, and he innocently stated “Of course, my prayer book is still on my lap now!” We’re thousands of miles apart, but davened in the same virtual synagogue.
The reading of the Book of Numbers commences this week, and the lesson of G-d’s counting of the Jewish people is so palpable after experiencing this event. “Because of their love before Him, He constantly counts them.” (Rashi, Numbers 1:2) He loves each one of them and counts them, as it were, to maintain a constant awareness of His children. Although we may often think and act as if it weren’t true, with El Al Flight 27 G-d reminded us of what we know in our hearts — we love each one of them too.
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org
Happiness comes in many forms and the safe landing of Flight 27 is just one of them.
What puzzles me though is why, WHY, does your story NOT spell out GOD? What is G-d about anyway? Did someone ( who owns the media) tell you not to use the word GOD in your article?
Is “Jewish Journeys” not all about religion and faith? Because, there’s other people all around the globe who want ” the world as one Kehilla ” too. However they have an agenda not conducive to what the Jewish or the Christians faiths have in mind.
Hasn’t God been removed too many times already from our daily lives? And then you go and write a story acknowledging God and then short changing His three letter title?
Have Mercy on all of us Lord. TW
Tom, thanks for writing. It’s actually a tradition that many Jews have to not spell out His full name demonstrating our deep respect for Him. You could say it’s similar to someone not calling their parents by their 1st name. Also, many Jews are careful not to write out His full name in case the paper or publication with the name would later be thrown in the garbage or otherwise treated disrespectfully.
I am on hofesh so I davened Mincha & Maariv at a Chabad Schul. Before we started one of the congregants mentioned the situation. After Mincha and in lieu of todays Yom Yom we said Tehillim. After Maariv additional Tehillim were said. It does go to show that Klal Yisrael does hear and may we be zocheh to again hear the sounds of Torah as we hear Kol Shofar. May this be the year that Heavens open up and we will see the Building of the Beis HaMikdash.
Hashem is always there for his people
I got home at 10 pm from an awesome lecture on Megillat Esther in-depth, and noticed an unusual email waiting for me. I opened it and it requested urgent tehillim for Flight 27, with a bit of detail. So i took out my Tehillim and started saying them, but more perfunctorily. Then the phone rang, and it was the author of Divrei Chizuk dot com, who had such urgency in his voice as he begged me strongly to daven for the plane and its 279 neshamos!
My tefillos took on a whole new urgency, and I was brought to near-tears from my davening! I have never experienced such depth of feeling while davening before! I felt like my tefillos were part of the Klal, as you did, Rabbi Dixler, and that it mattered a whole lot that I should say these tehillim with kavanah!
By the time I got the email and then the call, the plane was about ten to fifteen minutes from landing, and I couldn’t just stand by and let it do who-knows-what in that short time…
Someone said to go to Yeshiva World News where updates had been posted….and then they said the plane had landed safely… but i didn’t believe it til DivreiChizuk called me again, said he was listening to reshet beit of Kol Yisrael radio from his computer, and they said it had landed safely!
Later, on YWN, they had an article written by one of the passengers. The plane had been vibrating incessantly from takeoff, and the pilot was dumping fuel and burning off more before landing. This passenger said that at daybreak — which they had been waiting for — two military planes came up and inspected the undercarriage and the landing gear, and made a visual assessment that the El Al plane COULD land safely! which it proceeded to do!
While the feeling of achdut was amazing, the feeling of a huge let-down afterward was more so for me, because I realized that all these years, my tefillos have not been what they could have been. HaShem has shown me HOW I should be davening, and saying tehillim, and all. I’m so grateful that I could be a part of the Kahal that helped bring the plane in safely.
Another thought that crossed my mind: the nations of the world are suffering so many disasters of late. And yet here are 279 neshamos who were brought by HaShem’s Yad haChazaka to a safe landing in Eretz Yisrael, as if He plucked them out of the sky and set them down gently on terra firma.
Like you, I have been changed by the experience of this davening for people unknown to me. May HaShem allow me to increase my kavanah in every word of tefillah I utter, and may the zechusim of all of the Klal who participated help bring Mashiach Tzidkeinu, bim’herah uv’yameinu AMEN!
Praise God for the many more miracles for His mercies endure!
Before I embark on any long journey, I emmerse my mind in Psalm 121 and indeed He who keeps Israel will neither sleep nor slumber from now and for ever. Amen
King David was a blessing to his people to have reached such a conclusion in his life.
Are healing, (so called miracles) still experienced to day and why does the Jewish community/ people not recognise Jesus as Christians do, I do understand this is a sensitive subject but a question I would like addressing, if you would please?
The plane incident would almost certainly have been described as a coincidence by none believers. I have too much personal evidence which tells me there is a higher force we call G_d. To subscribe to that.
It would appear Jesus was considered to be just another man and somewhat of a rebel in Jewish terms. May be used or adopted by the Romans to exercise or maintain control over people?
Kind Regards, Anthony.
Thanks for sending your comments. The Jewish community absolutely recognizes G-d. What we object to is saying the man Jesus was G-d. If you want to research this further feel free to read these articles on our Ask the Rabbi website.
I am a friend of Israel and lover of the God of Torah- your recent experience has helped expound the communal attribute of prayer through reading the psalms ( tepilos/kehilla) in such a dynamic way.