Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

8 Adar 5759 - Feb. 24, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Tumas Kohanim at Ben Gurion Airport's Maman Cargo Terminal

by B. Rabinowitz

Workers in the Maman cargo terminal at Ben Gurion Airport are being exposed to the serious prohibition of tumas Kohanim, as a result of the storage of bodies flown in from abroad. Last week's Yated Ne'eman's Shabbos Kodesh supplement disclosed that despite repeated requests, including those of UTJ's MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz and El Al's rabbi, Rabbi Avshalom Katzir, the problem has yet to be resolved.

A number of weeks ago, Mr. D., a kohen working at a company which uses Maman services, turned to one the gedolei haposkim and described the problem of the tumas Kohanim at the company's terminal, where cadavers and organs intended for transplants are stored under refrigeration. He asked if he should continue in his current job under those circumstances.

An investigation by Yated Ne'eman clarified that the problem causes serious obstacles for many workers. The halachic authority whom Mr. D. consulted told Yated Ne'eman that the simplest solution is to remove the morgue from the terminal's premises or to build a fence extending from the entrance to the terminal until the refrigerator and then to the roof.

MK Rabbi Ravitz and Rabbi Avshalom Katzir turned to all those involved in the issue, among them the Transportation Ministry, the Airport Authority, and senior officials of the Maman company. However, none of the appeals resulted in the solution of the problem. "The problem must be solved immediately," said one of the poskei hador, and as a result, the editorial board of the Shabbos Kodesh supplement involved itself in the issue.

During recent weeks, many people turned to the General Director of the Transportation Ministry, the Secretary General of the Airport Authority, and senior officials in the Maman company, but each laid the responsibility on his counterpart. Some even totally sloughed all responsibility.

In light of this disconcerting information, it has been decided to notify the public of the problem, so that Kohanim will not unwittingly transgress. Several importers have announced their intention to transfer their products through the Gaza airport if the problem does not receive immediate attention.

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