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Section: Halacha   Category: Tshuvos
Debriciner Rov: Air Travel Safety, Pleasure Trips, & Bomb Scares

Undertaking a sea voyage or trip through the desert, is only permitted for a mitzva or doing business. Rav Moshe Stern, the Debriciner Rov (Be'er Moshe Kuntras Electric 83) was asked if this means that it is forbidden to take a plane trip for pleasure? He said that the earlier gedolim including the Meishiv Shalom held that flying in a plane was considered dangerous and paskened that it was assur for pleasure.

However, says the Rav Stern, today is different and traveling in a plane is no different than any other means of transportation as thousands of planes fly each day in safety. The real halachic issue about a pleasure trip is the question of Bitul Zman and waste of money. For this one must consult a competent Rov and Yirei Shamayim.

Nevertheless he held that after a plane trip the traveler should say Birchas HaGomel using Hashem's name. He does acknowledge however that many gedolim hold that you should say the bracha without Hashem's name. Even in his own Shul, if someone said HaGomel without Shem Hashem, he would not protest.

If the plane is forced to make an emergency landing after receiving a bomb threat in mid air, which turned out to be not true, then according to those poskim who hold you do not say Hashem's name by Birchas HaGomel for a plane trip, the bomb scare does not create a chiyuv to say it. HaGomel, says Rav Stern (85) is for those who faced real danger and not because you were scared by a prankster.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.