Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Tales of Emunah: True or False?
Essentially, the story is that a frum Jewish man was on the plane, realized that he forgot his tefillin in the terminal at Logan Airport, and made a huge fuss until the flight crew let him off the plane to retrieve them. The plane left without him, was subsequently hijacked and flown into WTC Tower 2, and this yid survived because of his dedication to the mitzvah of tefillin.
And, the story continues, because of his actions, the plane was delayed in taking off, which put an 18-minute gap between the two planes hitting the towers, and that led to thousands of more lives saved.
According to the post-script, this story appears in a 2002 book called "Even in the Darkest Moments," by Zeev Breier. This book has been quoted widely and even excerpted on Aish.com.
I was suspicious. Why had I never heard this story before? I looked it up online, and sure enough, snopes.com - the main site for debunking myths - reports that the story never happened.
It never happened!
IT NEVER HAPPENED!
Read the report on snopes and decide for yourself. It seems pretty straightforward.
So what are we supposed to believe? Is the story about R' Elyashiv on page 48 also a little bit of a white lie? Was Zeev Breier fooled by someone who claimed to be telling a firsthand story? Or did he make it up?
We've already seen many instances where stories about gedolim or chasidishe rebbes (and I don't mean the two are mutually exclusive) are interchangeable - some say it happened to Rebbe1, some say it happened to Rebbe2, and so on. But how many of these stories are just fabrications? Anyone?
Terry Pratchett, a brilliant British author, once wrote, "A lie can travel 'round the world before the truth has got its boots on." I just wish that weren't the case with stories that are supposed to inspire and give chizuk to people.
And then, the more frightening question: If people are inspired and strengthened by the story, does it really matter whether it's true?
For us me I prefer emes. A story like the one you blogged about is like eating a piece of delicious cake and then finding out it was made with lard.
The only problem is when fiction is presented as fact. As a rule, I am of the position that the mere fact that a story was published in Artscroll is not enough to make it true. But if the story is inspiring, I am inspired. I do not find the 'United Flight 175' to be inspiring in any way. And even if it was true, I would not be moved by it. (I'd of course be happy for the guy and his family)
See this link for a story going around Jerusalem causing some controversy.
Anyways, my point is that snopes.com is not making a complete argument at all, and is not a be-all-end-all source for this topic.
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