Monday, August 18, 2008

Standing at the Airport Gate

I'm here at the El Al gate with about 250 people on their way to Israel for good (I was recently in the lounge with a bunch of bloggers). I can't get over the guilt of flying business class when all of these people are the ones doing the mitzvah and not me, but Nefesh B'Nefesh knows that they will generally get better coverage if they treat the press like VIPs. In reality, it is the olim who are the VIPs.

The Mishnah tells us that when people used to bring bikurim (first fruits) to Jerusalem, people would stand up as they passed by. The reason for this is that when someone is on his way to do a mitzvah, we show respect for him and the mitzvah by standing for him.

R. Ya'akov Kamenetsky suggested that this is the reason that people stand right before Yishtabach in the morning prayers. As people go to give tzedakah at that time, as is customary, everyone else rises in their honor. R. Hershel Schachter has likewise suggested that this is the reason that people rise when a bride and groom walk down the aisle, on the way to fulfill the mitzvah of getting married.

As so many people come to the gate to make aliyah, I can't bring myself to sit down. But on the long flight, I don't think I'll have any option.

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