Rabbi Yehuda Leib Steinman, one of the leaders of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community ruled recently that during flights one is best advised to pray the Amidah prayer (The Standing Prayer) sitting down, restfully, rather than standing up.
This was his answer to haredi yeshiva students currently in the midst of the "Bein Hazmanim" holiday period - a break between Tisha B'Av and the beginning of Elul. Busy planning overseas vacations, the students were concerned about difficulties in saying all the customary prayers on board planes.
A local haredi newspaper in Jerusalem recently published various answers given by senior rabbis to queries pertaining to the break period. Rabbi Steinman's ruling is particularly noteworthy as the Amidah is one of the most core prayers and is noted in the Torah. It usually requires the worshiper to stand up.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky was asked whether bathing in the sea is considered an overseas trip, which some would argue is prohibited according to the Halacha. The rabbi answered that bathing in shallow water or at a reasonable distance from the shore was permitted, but that swimming to a greater distance not reached by the average swimmer, was problematic.
Leaders of the Lithuanian-haredi sector rabbis Yosef Elyashiv and Aharon Leib Shteinman warned yeshiva students last year of trips involving "spiritual dangers" such as exposure to internet, television, and modesty issues. They called on ultra-Orthodox parents to prevent their children from embarking on such trips on their own.
"Regarding the terrible loophole, we have learned there are boys from good families who rent hotel rooms in Tiberias and the northern district and gain access to impure devices and other unimaginable things and have stumbled upon dreadful obstacles, may G-d save us," they wrote.
"Parents must be aware and foresee dangers and not allow their sons to go on trips, unless, if it cannot be helped, they go on organized tours under the appropriate supervision which prevent spiritual and earthly dangers."
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