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Are Kosher Cruises Kosher?

By Tzvi Fishman
6/21/2007, 12:00 AM

Brothers and sisters in golus, until you come on Aliyah, the subject of today’s blog doesn’t apply to you. But don’t let it discourage you from coming. I can almost hear a reader hollering, “Hey, Harry, look at this. If we move to Israel, we won’t be able to leave!” That isn’t true. You can leave to visit family left behind in golus, and to attend to a wide range of mitzvot, but if you are dying to see the Great Wall of China, or play some golf in Scotland, then you had better do it now, because once you are a proud citizen of Israel, you won’t be able to take vacations of leisure outside of the Land, if you follow the halachah. The Creator of the universe formed heaven and earth, and He gave China to the Chinese, Africa to the Africans, and America to the Indians before the Americans came and slaughtered them all. Israel, He bequeathed to the Jews.

Sailing off to Galut

The question was raised regarding kosher vacations and cruises to all sorts of exotic destinations outside of Israel. If the halachah says otherwise, how can this be? Especially since trips like these are advertised prominently in dati newspapers and the Torah pamphlets handed out in synagogues on Shabbat?

Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg is a noted Torah scholar and a judge in the Great Rabbinic Court in Jerusalem. When asked what his opinion was regarding these advertisements, he answered:

“If the trips in question are pleasure trips to destinations outside of the Land of Israel, they are forbidden by the halachah. Furthermore, advertisements for these trips are a problem, since the Torah says, “Do not place a stumbling block in front of a blind man.”

Regarding the instances when leaving the Land of Israel is permitted, Rabbi Golberg writes: “I suggest that in this matter that we be very precise by stating the law direct from the source. In the Shulchan Aruch, section, 531:4, is states in the matter of leaving Israel for outside of the Land, ‘And one should not leave the Land of Israel to go outside of the Land for the purpose of a pleasure trip.’ Regarding this, the Mishna Berurah, in sub-section 14, states, ‘It is not permitted (to leave) except to do business or to see a friend, but just to take a trip, it is forbidden to leave the Land.’ These are clear rulings, and it is important that people should know. In a different place, the Gemara mentions two other instances where leaving the Land is permitted, to learn Torah, and to marry a woman. But just for the purpose of a tiyul (pleasure trip), there is no permission for this. This is completely forbidden. And concerning a kohen, this is an even severer prohibition, since it is written that the lands of the nation are a cause of impurity, in our time as well as the past.”

When asked whether advertisements promoting pleasure trips to the Diaspora should indicate that trips like these are forbidden by the halachah, Rabbi Goldberg answered: “In my opinion this would be a very worthwhile thing. This is the way it should be, and it would be wonderful if everyone acted in this manner. In my opinion, in these advertisements, the wording of this clarification should include the exact wording of the halachah from the source, as I quoted it. The matter in question, as it appears in the halachic sources, leaves no room for uncertainty.”

Warning! The Diaspora May Be Hazardous to Your Health