Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef Kobi Richter/TPS

The Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, on Friday afternoon permitted El Al flight LY008 from New York to land in Israel after the start of Shabbat, due to pikuach nefesh, the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. The permission was granted due to fear for the life of one of the passengers aboard the flight, who is suffering from a serious illness.

Flight LY008 was one of two El Al flights that took off from JFK airport in New York and were diverted to destinations in Europe instead of Ben Gurion Airport, in order to prevent religious and haredi travelers from arriving late to Israel and thus desecrating Shabbat.

Flight LY008 was supposed to have landed at 3:00 p.m. in Rome, but after permission was granted by Rabbi Yosef, it landed in Israel at 5:00 p.m., about an hour after Shabbat began.

The flight landed in Israel despite the fact that 230 rooms were ordered in a hotel in Rome, including kosher food funded by El Al. An ambulance was waiting at the airport in Tel Aviv to evacuate the patient to the hospital.

The second flight, LY002, was diverted to Athens and landed there. The Shabbat-observing passengers on that flight were directed to local hotels and to the Jewish community in the city.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)