Rabbis and kabbalists take a ‘prayer flight’ over Israel to stop swine flu
Some Jewish leaders may have failed to switch the name of the H1N1 virus from swine flu to Mexican flu, but others are taking a more, er, practical approach to battling the disease. Yesterday morning a group of rabbis and kabbalists boarded a plane in Israel and flew over the country with the goal of crop-dusting the land with blessings and preventing further deaths. In flight, they blew a shofar seven times, a number presumably derived from some complex numerological acrobatics, and not in reference to the seven trumpets of the apocalypse mentioned in the New Testament. While air travel is known as a common incubator for communicable illnesses, these fliers are convinced they have achieved the opposite: “We are certain that because of our prayers danger is already behind us,” says one of the rabbis involved. The question now is will they go on tour? Organizations from summer camps, to a yeshiva, to the Tablet office have been struck by the flu, and are probably willing to suspend their disbelief in magical prayer squads to get some of that protective goodness.