At about one PM today, we here in Ramat Bet Shemesh heard the sound that has become normal for the residents of the south.
My four year old daughter and her nursery class were all guided to crouch under their desks, and were told they would receive a candy. They davened together with their Morah.
My wife was in a taxi, whose driver quickly pulled into a parking area with an overhang.
I was in Shul where they were in middle of davening Mincha.
My son was in cheder, and was later upset because he didn't hear the siren.
Someone else shared with me that his fourteen year old daughter came home especially scared because there are girls in her class who are here from the south - to get away from the sirens - and they were totally petrified when it went off here, and in turn scared all the other girls.
As we nervously tried to figure out if it was a drill or the real thing, I experienced a certain sense of satisfaction. I am finally part of my people's suffering.
After Mincha, I was learning the Parsha and came across another strikingly relevant Rabbenu Bachai. The pesukim at the end of פרק ב speak of how Paroh died, and the Jewish people called out to Hashem from their difficult labor. He says that the time for the קץ had arrived, but it was still necessary for them to call out. Only the prayer of the Jewish people crying out because of difficulty has the power to come in front of Hashem. It was that heartfelt plea, the result of suffering, that started the Geulah process, whose time had come. This is why the subsequent pesukim immediately speak of Moshe's experience with the burning bush - the Geulah process had begun.
Rabbenu Bachai finishes off by saying that just as it was thus in regards to the גאולת מצרים, so it shall be with the final Geulah.
When trying to understand why it must be this way, we need to understand why only this type of tefillah enters before Hashem.
I believe the answer is that in order to get into the area of לפני ולפנים - the inner sanctuary where Hashem's essence is found (so to speak), is only if it comes from the לפני ולפנים - the very essence of the person himself. When do we truly call out from our very depths? Only when the difficulty strikes us at the very depths.
The Jewish people called out to Hashem at this point in Mitzrayim because they saw there was no hope. They saw there was no end in sight and the difficulties were only getting deeper. When a person calls out from that place, it reaches to the highest Place.
When the current situation touches us personally, that's when we will call out, and that is when we will be answered.
The seed of redemption is in the suffering - it is darkest before the dawn.