A startling picture of an Orthodox Jewish man on a plane, posted on Reddit by user "FinalSay" on Thursday, has sparked debate. In the picture, the man appears to have covered himself in a plastic bag, causing some to theorize that he donned the see-through attire in order to remain pure when the flight cruised over cemeteries.
It was first thought that he was wearing the plastic outfit in order to distance himself from women because Ultra-Orthodox Jews commonly stick to strict gender segregation rules while in public.
Now it is believed that the man is a descendant of the priests of ancient Israel, also known as a Cohen. The ancient priests are banned from flying over cemeteries, so the plastic would theoretically serve as a barrier between the man and the commuters he could potentially be passing above, The New York Daily News reported.
The caption with the photo read, "An Orthodox Jew in an airplane with women - so he covers himself with a plastic bag..."
Respondent “thenewyorkgod” wrote back: “This has nothing to do with women. He is a ‘cohen,’ descendant from the high holy priests of the temple and they are not allowed to walk into or fly over a cemetery, which would render them impure. See this article for a similar story about a plastic wrapped man doing it for this reason.”
The article that “thenewyorkgod” referenced contains this passage: "In 2002, a flight crew had to prevent an ultra-Orthodox passenger, flying from Israel to Britain, from wrapping himself in plastic bags. The pilot was forced to return to Ben Gurion International airport in order to remove the passenger from the plane. The passenger, a Cohen, wrapped himself in plastic bags for fear that the plane's route would pass through the air above the Holon cemetery and he would consequently become impure."