Rabbi Yosef Sheinin
Rabbi Yosef Sheinin rules that when siren is sounded during reciting of Shemoneh Esrei prayer you must not stop praying in order to rush to shelter
A relative calm may have returned to the southern communities but Home Front Command directives for emergency situations remain unchanged. Yet apparently Ashdod's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, Yosef Sheinin has his own directives.
Speaking on Sunday, the rabbi ruled that when a siren is sounded during the reciting of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer (a prayer recited quietly while standing) the person reciting the prayer must not stop praying in order to rush to a fortified space or shelter.
He based his ruling on halachic reasoning: The Iron Dome system provides the worshipper with immediate protection.
In an interview with a local radio station the Ashdod rabbi was asked what the ruling was for a man who hears a siren mid-prayer while reciting the Shemoneh Esrei prayer.
"The halacha rules that if a snake is wrapped around a man's heels while he is reciting the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, he mustn't move. Yet if a scorpion is wrapped around his heels – he must run, for a scorpion bites whereas a snake doesn't bite unless harmed," the rabbi explained.
It is my opinion that the Iron Dome transforms the danger from scorpion to snake which is why today, if a person is reciting the Shemoneh Esrei prayer and the alarm is sounded – he must continue praying."
He stressed that in the pre-Iron Dome days he instructed people to "get up and run to a fortified space."
Rabbi Sheinin added that "a man who doesn't stand during the Shemoneh Esrei prayer must certainly run to a fortified space due to 'and you shall diligently protect your souls.'
But when you are standing in the middle of reciting the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, we have the two examples in the halacha and I think that today we are in the snake (situation) after it has been proven that the Iron Dome is indeed a great defense.