`321 The Halachos of Siren Observance
Chananya Weissman

May 14, 2024

The Halachos of Siren Observance

Chapter One

  1. Observing the siren is a toldah of the mitzvah to serve the government of Israel, obey all its commands, and observe all its rituals, no matter what. This mitzvah is the foundation of Judaism, and supersedes all other mitzvos whenever there is a conflict. Thus it follows that observing the siren is a fundamental commandment.

  2. As such, one who does not observe the siren has excluded himself from the Jewish people, and it is a mitzvah to hate him.

  3. It is permitted to take pictures and videos of people who are ignoring the siren for the sake of publicizing these sinners and provoking hatred of them and their communities. There are no limitations here. Even though this requires doing actions while the siren is being blown, it is not considered violating the siren. It is almost on the level of pikuach nefesh to take these pictures and videos, and thus it is both permitted and even a mitzvah.

  4. However, it is preferable to hire a gentile to take these pictures and videos if possible.

  5. It is permitted to join with the gentiles in hating these sinful Jews together, especially since this will bring protection from the gentiles to the good Jews who observe sirens. This too can be considered pikuach nefesh.

Chapter Two

  1. The moment the siren begins to sound, one must immediately stop what he is doing and stand upright in complete silence. Ideally one should retain this pose until the sound of the siren has completely ended, but b'dieved one is yotzei if he retained this pose until the sound began to dissipate.

  2. Some say that one is allowed to whisper prayers with his eyes closed. They have what to rely on, and one should not make machlokes over this.

  3. One who feels a sudden intense need to use the bathroom while the siren is sounding must make every effort to hold it in. Even if he is unable to hold it in, he must stay in place. Although normally this is a health consideration and kavod habriyos, observing the siren takes precedence, and we do not say that any stench or visible soiling would obviate the maris ayin problem.

  4. As such, this applies even if one is in the privacy of his home.

  5. Although this halacha is very difficult, one should keep in mind that soldiers and victims of the Holocaust went through much worse. So hold it in and deal with it.

  6. If a person was already sitting on the toilet before the siren started, he must get up. We learn this from that which it says “ולא קמו איש מתחתיו(Shemos 10:23). During the plague of darkness the Egyptians did not get up. From here it is implied that enlightened people should get up, and those who stay seated remain in darkness.

  7. Chacham einav b'rosho. A wise person will take appropriate precautions in advance of the siren to prevent this from being an issue.

    Chapter Three

  1. If one is in the middle of davening, he must immediately cease when the siren begins. Although one would not conduct himself this way before a human king, and certainly not before the King of all kings, the State of Israel has the halachic status of a king, and we serve Hashem by serving the State.

  2. If one is in the middle of learning Torah, he must immediately cease when the siren begins. Although normally we say that one who interrupts his learning to admire a tree is as if he is guilty for his own death (Avos 3:7), even though he is admiring God's own nature, one is obligated to interrupt his learning for the siren.

  3. If one is engaged in work in the employ of others, he must immediately cease when the siren begins. Although normally this would be considered stealing time from his employer unless he is explicitly given permission, here he does not need to ask for or receive permission, and may bill his employer for this time as well.

  4. If one has just said a blessing on food and was surprised by the siren, he must not take a bite, and also need not say another blessing after the siren, despite the long delay. This is because brachos are d'rabbanan. הם אמרו והם אמרו . Besides, the rabbis of today know better than Chazal when it comes to modern matters.

  5. If there is an actual case of pikuach nefesh during the siren, such as a sudden heart attack by a 30-year-old in peak physical condition with no history of medical issues that has nothing to do with the injections he took, it is permitted to try to save his life during the siren. However, when running to the scene one should call out why he is doing so, lest he be suspected of treason by his comrades.

  6. What if one doesn't know what the siren is for? For example, he had fallen asleep, or just came out of the desert, or just woke up from a coma, and he does not know if the siren is for the Holocaust, or the soldiers, or Independence Day. Since the main part of the mitzvah is the act of standing silently in obedience of state rituals, and not the thoughts one has, in this case we say מצוות אין צריכות כוונה, the mitzvah does not require concentration.

  7. Therefore, one should observe the siren and think in his mind that it should apply to whatever the siren is for, and that is enough. Alternatively, he does not need to think at all. In fact, not thinking at all is the preferred approach both in this case and in general, since it avoids problems...



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