Should Ivanka and Jared have flown on Shabbat?

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Since President Trump and his entourage left the US for Saudi Arabia, the religious world has been “up in arms.”

No one knows the identity of the rabbi who permitted Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to fly in an airplane on Shabbat. No one knows if they actually asked a rabbi, or if they decided that it was fine on their own.

But more than that, no one should care.

Read that line again: No one should care.

There are things we should all care about: If the world is a safe place, if society is conducive to emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy children who can grow up to be emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy adults. We need to care about ensuring the next generation knows how to treat each other with care, with kindness.

We need to make sure violent crime – including terrorism – is down to zero.

Heck, we need to make sure Israel doesn’t end up a safe haven for sexual predators.

And we definitely need to make sure the government does not strip parents – fathers or mothers, divorced or married – of guardianship of their children, and of a relationship with their children.

But these are all things which pertain to what Jewish law calls “bein adam lechaveiro” – between one person and another.

Jared and Ivanka keeping Shabbat is what’s termed “bein adam lemakom” – between a person and G-d.

It’s not our business. Period. End of story.

But what really gets to me is that the same people who judge Ivanka and Jared’s Jewishness and level of religiosity, are the same people who often call those who disagree with them “judgemental” and tell those around them not to gossip or slander.

I’m not a rabbi (and I don’t know if a rabbi would agree with my thought processes), but if a plane is like a boat, then being on the plane is fine, but getting off and on during Shabbat is not.

I’m not a rabbi, but Ivanka and Jared seem to be crucial to Trump’s decision-making abilities, and we needed Trump to make good decisions here, in hopes that no one will get killed in an Iran strike or in continued terror attacks.

It’s easy to see why a rabbi would say Ivanka and Jared must travel, that it’s pikuach nefesh (literally, saving lives) for not just themselves, but dozens, if not hundreds, of other Jews.

It’s easy to see why a rabbi would class Ivanka and Jared as “krovei malchut” (literally, the relatives of royalty, who are afforded unique lenience in Jewish law).

And it’s also, unfortunately, easy to see why the rabbi in question would not want his name known.

Ultimately, I don’t know what the rabbi based his ruling on, or if they even asked a rabbi.

All I know is that it’s none of my business, and it makes sense that there’s a way to allow Jared and Ivanka to fly on Air Force One over the course of Shabbat.

If Ivanka and Jared’s flight is what caused Trump not to mention the two-state solution, if their presence is what made him angry enough to openly call out against Muslim(!!!) terrorism – then in my personal opinion, it’s worth it, and we owe them an apology and a debt of gratitude.

Of course, as Aslan says, “no one can know what would have been.” So, we’ll never know if we owe them anything or not.

And maybe, just maybe, we owe them decent treatment no matter what.

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6 Comments

  1. Leah Sapir

    good article. regarding “karov l’malchut” – I understand it to mean “close to royalty” (i.e. trusted advisor of a king or other national leader), not “relative of”. as described in the article on “Jew in the City” this was applied to many cases in the past (including past centuries) when a non-Jewish ruler had a trusted Jewish advisor. the advisor doesn’t need to be a family member (and usually isn’t – the case of Ivanka is actually unusual in this respect).

    1. I actually didn’t read “Jew in the City’s” article, but yes, what you are describing is exactly what we are talking about.
      You’re right – usually the Jew was not actually a relative of the king in question. Mostly because there haven’t been Jewish kings for thousands of years. 🙂

  2. Yeshayahu Hollander

    All the reasons to refrain from flying on Shabbat are Rabbinical. And in my mind it is reasonable to raise the question: did the rabbis have in mind flying with the President of the USA [or equivalent] on such a political journey, where a remark can have world-shaking impact – and the Jew has a chance to make such a remark? When thinking about this, I thought of Queen Esther living with King Ahashuerosh; in Sanhedrin 74b the Talmud asks why she did not refuse and take the consequences? Rava answers: the purpose of the King was not to cause her to do a sin but for his own enjoyment [or benefit – YH]. Here, too, Trump wants them with him because he trusts them and it gives him a good feeling – to take his Jewish daughter and his Jewish son-in-law, his close and trusted advisor with him. In summary: what they do is not an Issur Torah, and one cannot say the Issur Derabannan should be considered valid in such a situation. For instance: we fight in the armies of the nations in which we live and desecrate Shabbat [and Yom Kippur], and do not choose to be conscientious objectors.

    In my long experience, I have presented questions to Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Eliashiv, Rabbi Wosner, Rabbi Yitshak Kolitz – later Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem – questions which applied to specific cases, in which the “normal hlacha” prohibited these actions, and there was not ONE case where they did not permit the action. NOT ONE.
    HERE is another response:
    http://jewinthecity.com/2017/05/does-flying-on-a-plane-on-shabbos-make-you-not-orthodox/

  3. Jullie

    I disagree with you Paula … we should care..
    I personally think she wanted to fly go Thursday or Sunday…
    Dont pretend to be something you are not.
    It gives a bad name to converts…
    As it is they are given a hard time…but what Mrs Kushner should not forget is that whoever converted her can undo it….Although I am sure money has and will pass hands to keep people’s mouths shut.

    1. Hi Chaya,
      So first off – I’m not Paula, and Paula didn’t write this post. 🙂
      Okay, so you believe that she wanted to fly Thursday or Sunday. That’s great – that’s what all the judgies *should* think, if they must nitpick.
      Second, you can’t really undo a conversion. The rabbi who converted her can claim she converted under false pretenses, but he can’t (halachically) undo the conversion itself – nor should he, considering the effects such an act would have on the family.
      Third, I don’t think she’s pretending to be something she’s not. There are irreligious Jews who were born Jewish, and Ivanka, I think is trying to live the way she believes, and is doing her best to combine the role of “first daughter” and Jewish mother. Ever try it? I haven’t – and neither has anyone so close to US president, ever before.
      Sure, we should care about Ivanka, and we should care about halacha – but we should not be judging. And unfortunately, those who “care” right now don’t care about halacha (Jewish law), rechilut (slander), lashon hara (gossip), or Ivanka – they care about finding interesting things to talk about.
      Let’s talk about things, not people, and care enough to fix the problems in our own communities – instead of slamming public figures.
      BTW many converts cut ties with their birth families, whether they want to or not. Sometimes they’re thrown out. Ivanka didn’t cut ties, wasn’t thrown out. Pretty good, no?

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