Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hilchot Siren During Tefillah

What do you do if a siren sounds while you're davening Shemoneh Esreh? The following is a translation of a short guide issued by Rav Rafi Shtern of the Bar Ilan University Kollel.

1. There are several types of interruptions during Tefillah: (1) Walking (2) A non-verbal interruption (3) A verbal interruption

2. There are a number of different types of interruptions: (1) an intentional interruption (meizid) (2) an unintentional interruption (shogeg) (3) a coerced interruption (ones) by thieves or wild animals (4) a coerced interruption (ones) due to the individual or the location (i.e. he needs to use the restroom, or the location becomes unfit)

3. There is sometimes a difference for the purposes of psak whether the interruption is long enough that a person could "complete the entirety" of Shemoneh Esreh (irrespective of if the person happens to be at the beginning or end of Tefillah), and whether the interruption was for a shorter period of time

4. In our discussion of an interruption due to a siren, we assume that such an interruption is similar to "a coerced interruption by thieves or wild animals" (ones)

5. Walking (without speaking) due to coercion is not considered an interruption

6. Therefore, regarding a person who hears a siren during the silent Amidah and walks to a protected space (without speaking): If the interruption was for a brief period (=less than the time it would take him to recite the entire Amidah) - then he should continue his Amidah from the place he stopped. But, if the interruption was for an extended period (=longer than the time it would take to recite the entire Amidah) - then he must return to the beginning of the Amidah.

7. If he not only walked, but also spoke: If his speech was "under coercion" (ones - e.g. he had to instruct the members of his family to go to the safe room), then if the speech was extensive enough that he could have completed the entire Amidah then he must return to the beginning of the Amidah; but if he spoke only briefly, he continues from where he stopped.
If the speech was not coerced or necessary, he must return to the beginning of the Amidah.

8. For an interruption at any other part of tefillah (pesukei D'zimra, Shema, etc.) one should continue from where he was interrupted.

May our prayers be heard and bring us all safety and serenity!