“Thoughts” by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer: – Living with Sirens



I returned to Eretz Yisroel a few days ago from a trip to the United States. There were a number of family simchos happening in confluence with one another and it seemed like the right time to go. Once having landed in the land of plenty, we were informed that the ongoing rocket war between Hamas infested Gaza and points south, had intensified to include the majority of central Israel. Since I reside in Ramat Beit Shemesh, this development meant that the part of my family which had not traveled along with me to the States, were now living in a war zone. My children were being woken up during the night by the sirens and instead of being able to turn to their parents for comfort, they had to be put back to bed by their grandparents and uncles and aunts.

And yet, there was nothing we could do but reassure our children over the phone that we would be back soon and that hopefully matters would be resolved in the near future.

Such is life.




Our visit to the States was pleasant and uneventful. We attended the wedding and sheva brachos we had come for and utilized the opportunity to visit quite a few old friends. I delivered a shiur for Irgun Shiurei Torah and another for the Ohel Sarah Amen group of the Five Towns and all in all, we spent a busy and productive week and change. Shabbos found us in Monsey at the home of my uncle and aunt.

A word about Monsey.

Monsey is an oasis of green in the midst of a forest. Everywhere you turn there are freshly mowed lawns and sculptured front yards. Deer cross the road beside your car. Wooden walls surround backyard pools. It is a beautiful and peaceful neighborhood and grants both inhabitant and visitor serenity and menuchas hanefesh. Shuls abound along with shiurim and kosher stores and truthfully it’s a wonderful place to live.

Of course wherever we went the conversation turned to the matzav in Israel. Everyone had something to say about what was going on.

“Aren’t you worried about returning home,” I was asked more than once.

I responded by saying that Eretz Yisroel was the safest place to be – even during a war.

“39 Scud Missiles hit the country during the Golf War,” I reminded my friends and family, “with nobody killed from a direct hit. The same Scuds caused thousands and thousands of deaths during the Iran-Iraq war. Eretz Yisroel is truly a land of miracles. A place that exists above nature.”

Shabbos ended after nine o’clock and before we knew it, it was Sunday afternoon and we were boarding our Turkish Airlines flight for the trip back home, hoping that by the time we arrived, the hostilities would be behind us.




I arrived home on Monday.

Tuesday was a fast day. After the fast came to an end, I drove to Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel to meet my brother-in-law. The newest neighborhood in Beit Shemesh, RBS Gimmel is filled with newly built apartment buildings awaiting their residents. As we drove down the rough edged road we caught up on the local news. Suddenly he said to me, “stop the car.”

“What happened?”

“There’s a siren!”

Having been out of the country for the last week, I wasn’t sure of the protocol.

“What are we supposed to do?”

“Stop the car, park it at the side of the road and get out.”

I parked the car at the side of the newly minted Beit Shemesh road, and we sat down on the curb behind the car, as the vehicle behind us did the same – all of us waiting….. waiting…. until it was safe to drive again.

As I sat there on a mountain top in Eretz Yisroel crouched behind my car, waiting to see if a missile was going to come crashing down over the mountain, I couldn’t help but remember that just three days before I had been sitting on a back porch in Monsey, enjoying the peace and serenity of the forest and the trees.

The contrast simply hit me in the face.




I know that everyone is saying Tehillim for the matzav in Eretz Yisroel and that every single Jew around the world cares about what’s going on over here. But the contrast between the two life realities happening across the ocean is so great that it can be difficult to really imagine how it feels.

Eretz Yisroel is still the safest place to be. That will never change. It’s above Teva, above nature.

But as you go about your daily routine in the Catskill Mountains, or pick up your kids from their day camp on a picturesque winding New Jersey road, think about the children being woken up by sirens during the night and daven with all your heart, that this war comes to an end.

Feel it like a brother.

You know what I’m talking about.

Rabbi Nachman Seltzer is the author of eighteen books including such classics as “The Network,” “It could Have Been You” series, “Class Acts,” and his newest book “48.”
He is a columnist for TheYeshivaWorld.com & International Hamodia magazine, where his true life stories are beloved around the world.
Rabbi Seltzer heads the Shira Chadasha Boys Choir which just released their fifth album “Am Yisroel.”
He can be reached for comments or regarding speaking engagements at [email protected]









  1. With all due respect Rabbi Seltzer but this is NOT a NOVEL
    and I dont think that you should be telling everyone about our bases.Since it is an open secret it does not warrant to be published. I to reside in RBS and I to hear the sirens.
    please be careful of what you write,

  2. BS”D
    Excellent point about feeling it like a brother even though you’re not there.

    Same way I feel being in Beit Shemesh when I read about all the sirens going off in the coastal cities, Hashem yishmore. I got it much much easier where I live than compared to my brothers and sisters in Ashkelon and Ashdod, etc. I try to imagine and feel what they’re going through, but like #2 said, you really cannot feel or imagine what is going on. Guess, all I can do is keep trying — and keep davening, etc. May Hashem protect all His Yidden and end this thing in a good way soon.