How long would you wait to find if these boxes aren’t a passport to Paradise and 70 virgins?

It turns out they contain Biblical verses, not explosives.

Joris de Bres has demonstrated yet again why he and his job should be abolished.

He is saying the crew of an inter-island ferry over-reacted when they spotted a fellow strapping strange-looking boxes to his body.

Over-reacted be buggered.

The crew quite appropriately alerted the cops and kept a close eye on the suspicious-looking character, and a full-scale alert was mounted.

This was a helluva lot less extreme than Alf’s response would have been if he had been the captain.

The incident is reported at Stuff –

Armed police, including the elite Special Tactics Group, were called to Picton wharf yesterday after crew on the Interislander ferry Kaitaki observed a man strapping small boxes to himself.

We learn from KiwiRail spokesman Kevin Ramshaw of the crew’s  efforts to avoid mass panic,.

They observed the man without approaching him for the remaining three hours of the trip until the ship reached Picton.

After it docked, witnesses saw armed police force two men to their knees and search them before taking them away for questioning. They were freed without charge.

So how come the bugger was not at least charged with being an obvious public nuisance?

Because he was engaged in some Jewish prayer ritual.

The ritual involves small leather boxes, known as tefillin and containing religious verses, being tied to one’s arm and forehead.

The country’s namby-pamby wimps accordingly are critical that the authorities reponse was a bit over the top.

Ramshaw quite rightly has defended the crew’s actions.

“These may well have been part of religious observance, but to people who are involved in the travel business, there were what seemed to be wires attached to them.”

But sure enough, the molly-coddling Joris is among those talking of this being “an unfortunate over-reaction”.

“Just because someone is doing something religious in public, that doesn’t mean that they are a terrorist. If you analyse what they were doing, it doesn’t lead one to think that a terrorist act was envisaged … I think it’s unfortunate. I can see how it would happen but I think it reminds us of how we need to stop and think before we jump to conclusions.”

Police would have been acting on advice from the captain, he said. “I wonder whether the captain should’ve given it a bit more thought.

“Whatever people’s initial reaction might be, upon analysis it seems somewhat bizarre that, A, you would come to that conclusion and, B, that you would just sail on for another hour and ring police.”

Alf wonders what conclusion wishy-washy Joris would have drawn had he been aboard the ferry and spotted a fellow with these very strange-looking items strapped to his body.

Would he have strolled up to the bloke to ask if this was part of a religious ritual, and/or did it involve expectations of becoming entitled to 70 virgins in Paradise?

But Joris has a point in wondering why the ship sailed on despite the apparent threat posed by the passenger.

Alf would have had him thrown overboard, preferably in an area infested with sharks.

Mind you, Alf also happens to be an open-minded bloke and he is willing to learn more about the strange-looking boxes known as tefillin.

A question and answer site says –

Question: What are Tefillin?

Answer: Observant Jews wear Tefillin (phylacteries) – boxes containing Biblical verses – during morning prayer services starting at the age of 13.

Why?

Judaism is more than just a system of beliefs; Judaism is a way of life. Jewish religious practices are based on God’s commandments (Mitzvot) to the Jewish People as recorded in the Hebrew Bible (Torah).

God commanded Jews to wear Tefillin: “And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be an ornament for your head between your eyes.” (Deuteronomy, 6:4-8)

God commands Jews to wear Tefillin as a reminder of their Covenent with God, a reminder that they obligated to dedicate themselves to God in whatever they do, feel and think.

So how are these leather boxes worn?

One of the leather boxes is worn on the head between the eyes. The other box is worn on the arm, opposite the heart. The headpiece is called Shel Rosh (belonging to the head), and the handpiece is called Shel Yad (belonging to the hand).

Tefillin are worn on the head to remind Jews to subject their thoughts to God’s service, on the arm to remind Jews to subject their deeds to God’s service, and opposite the heart to remind Jews to subject their hearts’ desires to God’s service.

Fair enough.

If that’s what your beliefs impel you to do, go right ahead.

But be mindful that inter-island ferry crews aren’t the only ones who might be suspicious.

In January this year, a plane from New York to Kentucky was diverted after alarm prompted by a 17-year-old passenger using a tefillin to pray.

A Jewish teen’s prayers were answered with mass hysteria yesterday when a flight attendant mistook his religious paraphernalia for a bomb.

Shortly after taking off from La Guardia, Caleb Leibowitz, 17, of White Plains began putting on tefillin — two small boxes with leather straps that Orthodox Jewish men wrap around their arms and heads during morning prayers.

Leibowitz, who was flying to Louisville, Ky., with his sister Dalia, 16, to visit their grandmother, tried and failed to convince the flight crew that the traditional leather boxes were harmless, so the plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, where he was questioned by the police and the FBI.

All 15 passengers aboard US Airways Flight 3079 were evacuated.

“The flight attendant was unfamiliar with the device and became alarmed when she saw what appeared to be wires wrapped around his arms and his head,” Philadelphia Police Lt. Frank Vaore said. “She didn’t understand his explanation, so she alerted the pilot to describe what she had seen.”

Alf is told that many Orthodox Jews in the US say they avoid using their tefillin on flights to prevent such misunderstandings, and also because it is difficult to pray when confined to a seat.

Very prudent.

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