We may be on vacation, but flying Rabbis with trumpets deserve a day of their own and because it’s swine flu related there is no escaping this delectable item. PZ over at Pharyngula even had a link to a video which is something to behold. But first, for those of you who haven’t heard the latest in public health measures against SWINE flu (which the ultra orthodox Israeli Health Minister won’t permit to be called swine flu because pigs are unclean, which is why we shouted it in caps for emphasis), we present you with the death defying show from Kabbalah Airlines:
Dozens of rabbis and Kabbalah mystics armed with ceremonial trumpets have taken to the skies over Israel to battle the H1N1 flu virus, Israeli media said on Tuesday.
About 50 Jewish holy men chanted prayers and blew ritual rams’ horns known as shofars in an aircraft circling over the country in the hope of stopping the spread of the virus, some of those involved in Monday’s venture were quoted as saying.
“The aim of the flight was to stop the pandemic so people will stop dying from it,” rabbi Yitzhak Batzri told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, which carried a picture of the bearded men praying while airborne.
“We are certain that, thanks to the prayer, the danger is already behind us,” added Batzri, who could not be reached for further comment on Tuesday. (Reuters)
And here’s a link to the video (h/t PZ): BBC News story and video
Since this video might not stay up, here’s a pic to memorialize the blessed event from The Guardian (thanks to reader CC):
Enough frivolity. Despite its freakish appearance, the essence of this quackery (a term I prefer to “woo”) is this. These folks believe there is a supernatural power whose favors can be unlocked with a secret chant from a sacred book that only they know. Said that way, it isn’t much different than the local reform Rabbi asking for God to help the community in its travails or the numerous Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc., etc., clerics (to say nothing of our know nothing politicians) who will ask us to pray for God’s (or Jahweh’s or Vishnu’s or Allah’s or the Savior’s) protection should swine flu revisit in the fall in a nastier form. When they do that, summon up the image of the Flying Rabbis and their trumpets. And remember that it truly is as crazy as it looks.
Addendum: We have been lampooning the crazies of fundamentalist and non-fundamentalist religions for years here and we do it every Sunday. It is a regular feature of this site. We have explained why on numerous occasions and we won’t do it again. It is curious that if we display the wackiness of other malignant sects (malignant because of their political activities in addition to their particular superstitions) we don’t get comments that we are being culturally insensitive. That happens when we show that craziness is indeed non-sectarian. But if you read this post again, you will see we are saying more: what the crazies are doing (and they are crazies) isn’t really different than what mainstream religions do and espouse. That’s the cultural component. Fundamentalists are crazies because they do it in a way that is on the margins of the culture. Billy Graham is one of these guys with a suit on. He’s not a crazy. But he is also a quack.