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When we have an Aliyah, the kohanim, if present, are expected to go first, then the levi'im. Does this apply to flights on El Al and only through Nefesh B'Nefesh, or would it apply to other airlines or private aliyot as well?

And why would the third group be the Yisra'elim? If they are Yisra'elim, haven't they already had their Aliyah?


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closed as off-topic by msh210 Mar 23 at 21:58

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Well, you really have to start at the root of the Halacha to answer this one.

The reason that Kohanim go first (and Levi'im second) is because of the Halacha (גיטין נט ע"ב) of וקדשתו - לכל דבר שבקדושה - that Kohanim go first for all matters of being mekadesh. This would exclude most flights to Israel, where chillul Hashem is happening left, right, and center (just google "airplane chillul Hashem" for examples). Therefore, there is no need to let the Kohanim board first, and we can continue the status quo of airplane chillul Hashem by pushing and shoving to get on first. Kohanim should be allowed to board first on trans-European Aliyah train rides.

In terms of your second question, this is referring to the Mishnah in Yoma (4:5) which says:

בכל יום, כוהנים עולים במזרחו של כבש, ויורדים במערבו

Each day, the Kohanim go up the east side of the ramp, and the Yordim are in the West

The West, as we all know, is the United States. So, on Aliyah trips from the U.S., the Yisra'elim, who had already had their Aliyah but then had Yerida to the West, should board last.

  • Nice answer. But, re the last paragraph, everyone deserves a 2nd chance. I would check their passport possession status. If they revoked or expired the Israeli passport, then it's an indication that they are probably permanent yordim. – DanF Mar 7 at 15:32
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Originally, one person read the Torah for everyone and there was no concept of aliyot. It was only when people fought for the honor to read that the concept of aliyot for Torah reading began.

So, let's apply this to airline boarding. (I infer that's what you mean, but, you may want to edit this in your question.) There's no question that there is a "hidden fight" when boarding a plane. People prefer being first because it's easier to move around and get into your seat, and most of all, have space in the overhead bin for the carry on.

But, airlines already have boarding priorities. Disabled, elderly and parents accompanying small children go first. That seems to be the general airline policy on all airlines and on all flights - going to Israel or elsewhere.

So, in short, the answer to your question is a "no". You can't really change this long-standing airline boarding policy. That's been established long ago, and, personally, I think it's extremely fair. Elderly, disabled and parents with kids definitely need the additional time to board, and they definitely need more space to do it.

  • My original thought was about a plane full of kohanim on the runway next to a plane full of levi'im. – rosends Mar 7 at 19:14

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