Daily Israel Report

The Five Missile-Alert Torah Commandments

You've heard of the Ten Commandments - now one Israeli rabbi has compiled his own list for Israelis facing Gaza rocket fire.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/14/2014, 6:05 PM

Israelis take cover in Tel Aviv bomb shelter
Israelis take cover in Tel Aviv bomb shelter
Flash 90

A Jew's life is largely governed by the 613 mitzvot (Torah commandments) - both positive ones that must be pro-actively fulfilled and negative deeds that must be avoided.

Now, probably for the first time ever, a mitzvah guide for missile alert sirens has been compiled. 

Various collections and listings of mitzvot performed at specific times have been put together over the years. For instance, there are at least 20 such deeds that can and should be performed between awakening in the morning and the end of the morning prayers. But certainly the latest compilation – five Torah commandments that should be fulfilled upon hearing an air-raid siren warning of a deadly Hamas missile – is a first. 

Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, the well-known and popular rabbi of the Ramat Elchanan neighborhood in Bnei Brak, compiled the list, together with the members of the Beit David Kollel he heads in Holon. His list of mitzvot to be performed when learning of the advent of a Hamas missile is as follows:

1. Upon hearing the siren, one should imbue his heart with complete trust in G-d, the knowledge that He directs all events, and the certainty that every bullet and rocket has a Divinely-designated address.

The Rambam (Maimonides), whose listing of the 613 Torah commandments is the most authoritative, does not list this mitzvah specifically, though it is certainly connected to the commandments to know that G-d exists, to love Him, and to fear Him.

2. One must pray, by reciting a chapter of Psalms or other prayer, that the oncoming rocket not harm any Jew, and that it be successfully intercepted if necessary. The Torah commands us to pray for salvation when we face trouble and tribulation.

3. One must also engage in thoughts of repentance. The Rambam writes, "It is a positive Torah commandment to cry out and sound trumpets for every tribulation that faces the community; this is one of the ways to engage in teshuvah, repentance... in the knowledge that the troubles stem from [our] evil deeds…"

4. After the rocket is intercepted or falls harmlessly in an open area, we are bidden to express our thanks to G-d for His kindnesses. The Baal HaShe'iltot wrote that thanking G-d for a miracle is a positive Torah commandment.

5. One who is safe in his home during a missile alert must remember those who are in the street frantically searching for a safe area. He must open his door for them, thus fulfilling two mitzvot in one: Hospitality and saving others from danger.

Regarding the commandment to give thanks, Rabbi Zilberstein added the following "bonus" concept: A verse in Psalms (35,18) praising public thanksgiving is this:  אודך בקהל רב, בעם עצום אהללך – "I will thank You in a great congregation, amidst a large nation I will praise You." 

In gematriya [numerology], the letters of the verse add up to 774 – precisely the current Jewish calendar year of this, the  sixth millennium.