The supreme leader of Ashkenazi non-hasidic haredim, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman (often spelled Shteinman), was asked two halakhic (Jewish law) questions and one theological question about the continued rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza and Lebanon. Here are the questions and Steinman's answers.
Above: Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman
Should A Jew Run For Cover When A Rocket Warning Siren Sounds? Or Should He Keep On Praying?
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The supreme leader of Ashkenazi non-hasidic haredim, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman (often spelled Shteinman), was asked two halakhic (Jewish law) questions and one theological question about the continued rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza and Lebanon.
1. Should a Jew who is praying the Amida prayer (also known as the Sh’mona Esrei), in which a person is not allowed under Jewish law to move from his place or interrupt in any way, stop praying and run for shelter when missile warning sirens sound?
2. Why have so many rockets and missiles been fired from Gaza into Israel with almost no injuries or deaths reported?
3. Should a newly married young couple travel to the Israeli port city of Ashdod, which is under heavy rocket and missile attack from Gaza, from the Tel Aviv haredi suburb of Bnei Brak? Tel Aviv has been targeted with few missiles and rockets compared to the hundreds fired at Ashdod and other cities closer to Gaza. But most have done no damage because of Israel's US-funded Iron Dome missile defense system. The young groom’s in-laws prepared a lavish Shabbat for the couple, and the groom did not want to hurt their feelings by canceling. Was honoring his in-laws more important than the dangers of the rocket and missile attacks?
This is what Rabbi Steinman answered as quoted by Rabbi Dinar, who heads the haredi Divrei Shir Shul in Bnei Brak. Yeshiva World reported that Dinar discussed the questions to and answers from Steinman Friday night with his congregants.
1. Missile warning siren during the Sh’mona Esrei prayer.
Steinman discussed the well-known mishna (the precursor to the Talmud compiled in Palestine circa 200 CE), Brachot 5:1, that rules that if a snake approaches a person praying Sh’mona Esrei and even coils around his heel, the person is required to stand in place and keep praying.
However, the Talmud qualifies that and rules (Babylonian Talmud, Brachot 32b-33a) that if a scorpion approaches a person who is praying the Sh’mona Esrei prayer, the person should immediately run away because it is prone to strike without any provocation, and the Jerusalem Talmud reportedly notes (Brachot 9a) that if the snake is hissing and appears agitated, the person should stop praying to remove it or call for help.
Steinman said that a missile warning siren is like a scorpion.
Because the warning siren is only sounded once a missile or rocket has been fired with the intent of harming or killing people. In essence, the attempt to injure has already begun.
2. Why have so many rockets and missiles been fired from Gaza into Israel with almost no injuries or deaths reported? [In other words, what is the lesson we’re supposed to learn from this? Why would God allow this happen?]
Steinman is quoted as responding that “Am Yisrael [the Jewish people] finds itself among seventy wolves and, at such a time [as this], a person can vividly see just how much they want to harm us."
3. Should the newly married young couple travel to the Israeli port city of Ashdod, which is under heavy rocket and missile attack from Gaza? Is the groom honoring his wife’s parents and traveling to Ashdod to spend Shabbat with them more important that the danger of rocket and missile attacks?
Steinman reportedly ruled that the young couple should travel to Ashdod for Shabbat in order to show respect for the bride’s parents.
But added that the young couple must strictly follow all instructions from police and Israel’s Home Command, and must use caution while they are in Ashdod.
Steinman’s ruling was issued late in the week.
Friday night on Shabbat a rocket struck Ashdod wounding several people – including a 16-year-old boy who was reportedly severely injured.