This past Shabbos, at 8:10 am, my family was woken by the sounds of air raid sirens. Not a pleasant thing to wake up to. Thankfully, I just returned from davening, so I was all dressed and awake, and my oldest son was getting ready to go to the 8:30 minyan. I ran to get my two-year-old, who was sitting in bed shaking and starting to cry, and I was happy to see that's the first place my son ran to. I yelled at everybody to get up, and thankfully, everybody was able to get up and going. Unfortunately, only two made it out in time. But, what are you going to do, when you have only 30 seconds?
I felt bad for my six-year-old though. The second the siren ended, and we realized that we were not in danger, he just broke down crying. What do you tell a kid to make him feel better? Smile and say, "Don't worry! We didn't die!!"? Or perhaps a more manly/Klingon response, "Perhaps today was not a good day to die!"?
This is only the first real time we had to move quickly (the previous was a false alarm), it gives you a perspective how others further up north (those that are left) and down south, go through on a near-daily occasion.
In the end, everybody did calm down. The idea that this was a false alarm was quickly dispelled with the non-stop sounds of aircraft, helicopters, and muffled explosions throughout the day. And since it was Shabbos, nobody had a clue what was going on.
Everybody did get in a better mood, though, when we saw the newest toy the air force has. The Super-Duper-Mega-Super-Large-Missile-Detection-Blimp floating who knows how many kilometers from us (clearly it ate the Goodyear blimp for breakfast before joining us). Its job is to be able to detect missile launches hundreds of kilometers into Syria, Jordan, etc. It has a sister blimp over Dimona which is guarding the nuclear weapons that Israel doesn't have stored there.
All in all, we learned some lessons. Pray that we don't get attacked when we're sleeping. Don't wear skeleton pajamas that glow in the dark (like my six-year-old), lest you scare everybody else running to the shelters. Super-Duper-Mega-Super-Large-Missile-Detection-Blimps are really cool to look at. And everybody at the 8:30 minyan agreed that Hezbollah gained spiritual merit, since only they could get everybody to come to shul on time.
Okay, on to more important things.
When Moshe gave Pharoah his warning about the upcoming hailstorm, Rashi writes that Moshe scratched a mark on the wall, and said, "When the sun hits here, the hail will fall."
Rav Pinkus notes that, if you look carefully, you'll see that this is a tad interesting. Usually, before a hailstorm, or any storm for that matter, there is no "when the sun hits here," because there is no sun at the moment! Before any storm comes, the clouds need to spread out first, because without clouds, there is no storm. We learn from here, that there were no clouds at the time of the hail!
He explains that many people think that walls are made to separate two people or two things. That's their whole essence: to separate. However, he writes, there are many walls in our world that actually serve to bring people or things together.
In the shul, for example, we have a wall which separates men and women from each other. There are those, who lack Jewish understanding, claim that this wall is to keep women separate, penned up, and second-class citizens. However, the opposite is true. Without this wall, women could not come into shul at the time of davening, because men and women cannot daven in a shul together. However, when a separation is made, it allows women to come in during those times and allows men and women to daven at the same place at the same time. In this example, this wall serves to bring people together.
Another example: the clouds at Sinai. They covered the mountain, "allowing" Hashem to enter our world, if you will, and be in the physical presence of the Jewish nation, albeit behind a wall of clouds. Without this wall, we would never survive such an encounter.
Yet another example, which is directly related to the hail. When Hashem wants to give the bracha of rain, he first sends clouds to cover the sky. This "wall" which "separates" Him and us, if you will, serves as a means to deliver the much-need bracha of rain, which brings us food and water on which we are so dependent. Again, it allows Hashem to enter our world and become close to us.
When the hail hit Egypt, it did so seemingly without any clouds. There was no wall that brings two things together. This was the opposite. This was a punishment being served straight from Hashem, without any "filter" to protect the recipients.
Sometimes in life, we think we see walls being put up. True, sometimes they are walls put up to keep us from going in certain directions and to certain places. And we often get depressed about such things. However, we need to remind ourselves that it's very possible that these walls were not only meant to direct us on the proper path, but are also meant for us to become closer to Hashem.
With that, I wish you all a wonderful Shabbos!