Religion & Beliefs

Why Did This Orthodox Man Seal Himself in a Plastic Bag on an Airplane?

Germaphobe or Cohen? Read More

By / April 11, 2013

A reader brings this picture to our attention, allegedly of an Orthodox man flying from Cyprus who sealed himself in plastic for the duration of the flight. While this seems like an effective way to guard oneself against the Contagion-level germ count on airplanes, we’re told it’s likely because he’s a descendant of the biblical Kohanim, and adhering to a shockingly strict interpretation of ancient laws regarding contact with the dead.

Apparently, since all planes fly over cemeteries, this is an advised method of spiritual protection.’s Judaism page (a questionable source, we know) explains:

A kohen initially was not supposed to approach any dead body, and if he did so he became ritually impure (tameh). There were rituals that could be employed in ancient days to restore him to ritual purity, but that is no longer possible.

The fact is that all of us have sat on a chair where there was a dead fly, been in a building where there was a deceased animal, etc. Thus, we are all ritually impure, including the Kohanim.

Needless to say, the other passengers pictured look thoroughly confused. The real question, though, is what would Sandy Cohen do?