Please scroll below this update for the original story.
Update, 03/11: Well this turned out to be more controversial than I thought it would be…
At any rate let’s make a few things perfectly clear:
1. My thoughts and deepest prayers are with every single man, woman, and child that was on-board MH370 as well as their families.
This story isn’t intended to diminish from the shocking events even one iota. It was only an attempt to shine a small glimmer of light into the darkness, just like stories of people who were saved from other tragedies.
2. This story is 100% true. I know the travel agent very well and he is a completely honest person who shies away from attention, even more so given the negative responses here, and while the saga is ongoing.
I examined the original unedited email exchange and I’ve heard from the traveler as well. I am absolutely positive that the story below is legitimate.
3. Call it a coincidence, call it the hand of G-d, call it whatever you want, but because a travel agent put his religious convictions and values over profit, Andy is alive and safe today.
4. The fact that the fate of hundreds of people is still unknown is a terrible tragedy beyond my comprehension. However hearing the true story of even 1 life being spared from that fate is something that shouldn’t be tossed aside like rubbish, as it means that 239 passengers are missing and not 240.
The Talmud says that he who saves one life is as if he saved the entire world. This particular article may focus on that one life, but does not imply that the disappearance of MH370 is any less of a tragedy.
5. In absolutely no way am I implying that G-d struck down the plane because of the Sabbath. Nor am I implying that anyone would ever deserve this fate. Again, Andy had a small religious awakening and for whatever reason, that had a direct correlation to him being safe today. It’s rare that we get to see a story like this with the digital trail left behind so neatly and I enjoyed reading it. I hope that sharing it inspired more than it offended.
6. I fervently hope that somehow, against all odds, we hear about the safe rescue of all onboard MH370. Once again, you are all in our prayers.
This is the original story as posted on 03/10:
The whole world’s eyes are on the far east, wondering how a Boeing 777 can just disappear without a trace. Malaysia Air Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:43am this past Saturday morning and has yet to be located. Flying is the safest mode of transportation that exists today, so the disappearance of an airplane like this is really sobering.
I heard the following story firsthand from the travel agent involved. He is an avid DansDeals follower that I’m friends with. He sent me the unedited exchange that follows and I made the necessary edits to protect the privacy of the parties involved.
The saying goes, “More than the Jews have kept the Shabbos (Sabbath), the Shabbos has kept the Jews.” When I think of that saying, I picture my life if I were constantly wired 7 days a week. As it is, I feel like a slave to my digital devices, but the knowledge that Shabbos is right around the corner keeps me going. From sundown Friday evening until when the stars come out on Saturday night it’s 25 hours spent completely offline and it’s blissful. It’s 25 hours spent praying to G-d and consuming obscene amounts of calories eating scrumptious meals with family and friends. It’s perfect. Sure anyone can always disconnect, but there’s something awesome about the forced routine that can’t be properly explained to one who hasn’t experienced it.
But the saying goes much deeper than that in this story.
Click on any of the emails to enlarge them.
On 01/13/14 Andy emailed his travel agent his desired itinerary:
The travel agent, an Orthodox Jew, proposed the following business class itinerary, slightly altering the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight from Saturday to Friday.
Andy loved the price, but again requested the Saturday morning flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing:
The travel agent responded that he would not be able to book travel for him over the Sabbath, but that he was free to book that flight by himself:
Andy agreed with that and planned to book the flight by himself:
And the travel agent noted that if he changed his mind to just let him know:
Shortly afterward Andy did just that:
And the travel agent recommended a place to get a nice kosher meal and booked him the originally proposed itinerary, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Friday early morning instead of Saturday.
Fast forward to 2 days ago. The travel agent is in Israel and reads this email once Shabbos is over. The email was sent after shabbos, at 7:15pm Beijing time/1:15pm Israel time:
And the travel agent wrote back, equally in shock at the realization of Shabbos saving his client’s life:
Indeed, due to the travel agent worrying about the religious observance of a fellow Jew, Andy was persuaded into flying on Malaysia Air 370 exactly one day prior to the ill-fated flight he wanted to take.
It’s not often we hear a story like this. It’s been 103 years since Rose was saved from the devastation of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire thanks to observing Shabbos. And now it was Andy’s turn.
Prayers go out to the families of those still missing.