Obligation to Run to a Bomb Shelter

Ask the Rov: In Eretz Yisroel, air raid sirens signal possible rockets. Am I obligated to run to a shelter whenever a siren sounds?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

Chazal teach us that one is not allowed to place oneself in a dangerous situation and rely on a miracle.1 Regarding saving someone from a clear danger, halacha necessitates overriding Shabbos even if many doubts are involved.2

On the other hand, certain activities accepted as normal by society are permitted, notwithstanding a certain degree of risk, based on the rule “shomer pesa’im Hashem,” that Hashem protects the simple. Therefore, people don’t hesitate to drive in a car, notwithstanding the occurrence of accidents, and some occupations involve inherent risks (e.g., construction).3

Yet, when society commonly takes extra precautions, this allowance does not apply.4 Additionally, this rule is only applicable to a remote danger that has some chance of occurring over an accumulation of time, but not to a clear present danger (see issue 569).5

If one is in the middle of Shmoneh Esreh and a non-dangerous snake approaches, halacha rules that one may not interrupt with speech, though one may walk and shake the snake off. But if a scorpion or lethal snake is approaching, one may make any interruption necessary to save oneself from this dangerous creature.6 Contemporary poskim note that a siren indicating an oncoming missile is comparable to the latter category that is aiming to harm.7

Although Hashem’s miracles and, l’havdil, Eretz Yisrael’s defense systems greatly mitigate the danger of oncoming missiles, it is nevertheless a tangible danger like a scorpion. Moreover, the government advises and requires taking the necessary precautions.

In practice, contemporary poskim agree that if one hears an air-raid siren, one should immediately go to the closest safe spot, even if this involves interrupting Shemoneh Esreh or even chilul Shabbos, since Halacha rules that even doubtful danger overrides Shabbos.

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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  1. Why does it say l’havdil in this sentence?

    “Although Hashem’s miracles and, l’havdil, Eretz Yisrael’s defense systems greatly mitigate the danger of oncoming missiles,”

    We don’t say l’havdil between Hashem’s actions and the positive actions of Yidden. And that’s besides the fact that the defense system itself is also from Hashem, although it is more b’derech hateva.

  2. Israel spent an incredible amount of money, time and resources on the iron dome and relied on it instead of relying on Hashem and following the clear instructions of the Shulchan Aruch on how to respond to threats and constant attacks. While they were busy with the iron dome the Hamas had the time to build a very powerful military, dig tunnels, develop their intelligence etc. The iron dome is one of the greatest reasons for the recent calamities. My classmate in Yeshiva was sitting in his home in EY and a rocket hit his home leaving his wife dead and a few children without limbs. The iron dome is what killed his wife. Without the iron dome they would have to do something. When the rockers were launched over two decades ago Peres exclaimed קרטונים מעופפים. They thought that it was a joke and for extra protection we’ll develop the iron dome. Haughtiness and כוחי ועוצם ידי and the iron dome didn’t achieve great results.

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