I live in Israel where there are presently (late 2012) ongoing rockets fired at us from Gaza. We are warned of an impending rocket by a loud siren that gives us less than a minute to run to a bomb shelter. Now that's it time for the Maariv, I'm feeling quite apprehensive about approaching prayer in general and realized a few questions.

I am not seeking practical halachic advice for which I can ask my Rav. I'm interested to know the sources on the basis of which my Rav would decide.

  • If I'm in the middle of the Amida and a siren goes off I will of course run to a shelter to save my life. Until I can return to my home and continue praying again (maybe 10 minutes later), is it forbidden for me to speak?
  • Would I have to start over again from the beginning of the Amidah?
  • If a person is stricken with fear of an impending siren, are they released from the obligation to pray? As this situation might last for several days, I don't think one could hope for a tashlumin.

Obviously, I never before considered the context of such halakhot, but they are quite pressing and real. I would be grateful if someone could help me out, as well as ask everyone here to have us in your tefillot.

  • 9
    You all are certainly in my tefillot! I will point out that there are b"H many qualified rabbis in Israel who can deal with your issue directly. Anything here is purely theoretical and not meant for final conclusions.
    – Double AA
    Nov 14, 2012 at 22:59
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/7107/759
    – Double AA
    Nov 14, 2012 at 23:00
  • 6
    Is there an option of praying in the shelter? (This could potentially alleviate concerns 1 and 3)
    – Double AA
    Nov 14, 2012 at 23:03
  • 2
    Not being in your situation I can't say for sure how it feels, but it strikes me as rather backwards to wonder if one can pray when one is fearful. Certainly, that would be the best motivation to pray! Many of us have a hard time trying to focus our energy to pray when our lives are relatively ok; for someone who's life is on the line, prayer should be natural!
    – Double AA
    Nov 15, 2012 at 6:17
  • 1
    Why wait 10 minutes till you go home to continue praying? Continue as soon as you reach the shelter.
    – Ariel
    Nov 15, 2012 at 9:01

2 Answers 2


Point 1:

See Mishnah Brurah 104:25 that says it is forbidden to speak unless one is an Oines.

Point 2:

See Mechabar 104:5 that says if the hefsek took as long as it takes to finish the Tefilla then one must start over, otherwise one starts again from the Bracha that he was in the middle of. For more complicated details look at the Mishnah Brurah there.

Point 3:

The Mechaber in simon 98:2 says ideally one should not pray in a time when one has not got presence of mind (see Mishnah Brurah for a examples of pain, anger [and I suppose one could add fear as well]) however nowadays since we anyway do not have that much concentration we should daven even in such a time. See the Mishnah Brurah there that says one should still try and put ones thoughts out of the mind first.

  • 1
    Thanks yehuda. BTW, I did in fact encounter a similar situation after writing this question. While praying Shacharit at home, right before the Shema, a siren went off. I ran with my Tallit and Tefillin to the shelter, and after collecting myself, continued from there. The amazing thing is the precise place in the tefilla that I was in at the time of the siren: while saying the words "Hamerachem rachem aleinu."
    – Aryeh
    Nov 19, 2012 at 16:52

this was supposedly asked to Rav Shlomo Aviner

What should a person do if he is in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and hears a warning siren for an incoming missile?

A: He should run to the bomb shelter and continue to Daven the Shemoneh Esrei there. This is based on two factors: 1. It is a case of a life-threatening situation. 2. Walking in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei without speaking is not considered an interruption. For example, if I am Davening the Shemoneh Esrei and a child is bothering me to the point that I cannot concentrate, I can move to another place. Or if I am Davening by heart and I cannot remember "Ya'ale Ve-Yavo," I can go and get a Siddur. Speaking is forbidden, but there is no problem of moving if there is a need (Mishnah Berurah 104:2). Therefore, if I am in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrei and I hear a warning siren for an incoming missile, I should go to the bomb shelter without talking and continue to Daven where I left off (Piskei Teshuvot, Orach Chaim 104. Shut Be'er Moshe 3:13. Nes Lehitnoses by Ha-Rav Yoel Schwartz at the end, in the Q&A of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein during the Gulf War #39).


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