Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Night Terrors

My flight out to the bush was very memorable. The tiny single-propellor airplane had no copilot - instead, I sat next to the pilot.

And the airport out in the bush was nothing more than a strip of tarmac:

On the game drive, we saw some great stuff - wildebeest, buffalo, impala, hornbill, giraffe, zebra, jackal, brown hyena, rhino, and a pair of male lions. We also heard the latter roaring during dinner.

A thought struck me. Here we were hearing sounds that would have struck terror in the hearts of our ancestors in Biblical Israel. Yet modern society meant that we were absolutely safe, in a lodge surrounded by electric fences and with armed rangers. But at that exact moment, my poor wife and children were huddled terrified in our safe room at home, fearful of long-range missiles that did not exist in Biblical Israel. Different night terrors for a different age.


  1. Let's not fall "prey" to the sensationalism so prevalent in the media. Your wife and children were in a "safe room" - specifically designed to protect them from harm. Hence the name. And while I'm sure it wasn't fun (we welcomed a group of chassidic students into our safe room from the local park), we weren't huddled or terrified. We waited, heard a few booms, and then left. Moreover, the chances of Hamas actually hitting a house in Beit Shemesh are quite low. The experience is disconcerting, but I certainly hope that they weren't huddled or terrified. That would be - irrational.

  2. I was at a game park in South Africa in 1996. The first night there, we went out into the bush at twilight, and we could hear a pair of male lions roaring a few miles away, and I instinctively felt primordial fear shoot right up my spine. I had a mad urge to climb a tree to escape. I thought of my ancestors, what they would have felt hearing those sounds, and felt an instant connection with them.

  3. HaBemachanim in BeMivtzarim.

    (Of course, the problem is "Hayesh ba etz, im ayin.")

    2. Can you give Hebrew translations for these animals, so that we can relate to these in torah / gemara, etc?

    MiMedinat HaYam

  4. er - Hamas DID hit a house in Bet Shemesh
    and the kids ARE huddled and terrified - and in some cases throwing up.
    kids tend not to be as rational as adults

  5. I can certainly relate to your small plane experience. I once went for a dive trip off the coast of Belize. I land in Belize city at a full size international airport, collect my bag and dive gear and go to find my flight to the island.

    I find a guy, standing by a stand that looks like he put it together himself just before I got there. He checks my ticket, and point me at a door. I go through the door and find myself on the tarmac between two big planes (a jumbo and something else). I stand there for a minute wondering what is going to happen. Sure enough, a little single prop 6 seat-er shows up, the pilot get out and throws my stuff in somewhere and I get to sit the co-pilots seat (the plane was full).

    Taking off was itself an interesting experience as we are sandwiched between these big jets that take a kilometer or two to get off the ground. We are up in a couple of hundred meters.

    On the way out to the island we never got over 2000 ft (I'm watching the altimeter), there is no radio (pilot has a handheld) and as we were coming down, I was also looking for a runway. Needless to say, it was also a dirt strip. The pilot had us on the ground and bags out of the plane before you knew what was going on. Talk about personal service!

    Got to make the same trip going back. Enjoyed every second of it and I hope you enjoyed your small plane experience as well.


  6. I'm with Reuven Spolter. I can certainly understand that it is a terrifying experience if you're in a place like Sderot where you have seconds to react. But when you have a minute or so to react then it's a matter of taking the precautionary steps in an orderly way. The kids take their cue from their parents so if there are parents are panicky about the situation then the kids will no doubt feel more trauma. However if the parents just do what they are meant to do without fuss then the kids are much less prone to being terrified.

    In fact, in our case - it's kind of ironic I know - but my kids of 12, 10 and 5 (and 1 but that doesn't count) get pretty psyched in the safe room with mattresses to jump on and so on.

    Not a normal situation for sure but it's up to the parents to ensure that kids do not end being traumatized from these experiences. We do not want to give the terrorists the satisfaction of succeeding in terrorizing any more than necessary.

    Our kids know what to do - they're taught about how to handle themselves in school and I think we can be proud of the fact that we're able to carry on no matter what. We need to communicate to the world that on the one hand this is not a circumstance that anyone should have to tolerate but that on the other hand we can weather the storm by being cool, calm, collected under fire and deadly on the counter strike.

    That's very rational.



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