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The Right Approach to Yom Ha’atzmaut

Yom HaZikaron in Bnei Brak

Photo Credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

When President Obama was newly elected, he made a trip to the Middle East to address the Arab nations. He spoke about Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation citing the Holocaust as the reason.

He was roundly criticized for that by many – especially in the religious community. Because as we all know the real reason Israel has a right to exist is because God gave it to us. It is in the bible. Check it out.

But even though that is the primary reason for our rights to the land of Israel, the President’s references were not entirely wrong. In fact it was indeed the Holocaust that motivated many nations in the UN  to vote in favor of creating  a Jewish State – partitioning Palestine into two separate states, one Arab and one Jewish.

One of the things that made me tear a while back is when I heard and saw archival footage of Jewish refugees interred  in a displacement camp post Holocaust singing Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikva. It appears they did so spontaneously upon hearing the announcement of a Jewish State in Palestine.  Until the establishment of the State – they had no place to go. No one wanted these Jewish refugees. Palestine under the British Mandate closed their doors to them. Now – they were finally open. Jews could finally go ‘home’.

I must have seen the archival footage of Ben Gurion declaring Israel’s independence dozens of times. It too makes my eyes tear. I don’t see how anyone with a Jewish heart would not have the same reaction. Especially after the Holocaust. That took place on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, returning the land of Israel back into Jewish hands for the first time in 2000 years. That day- Yom Ha’atzmaut – is now celebrated annually in Israel and by many Jews outside of Israel. And it is being celebrated in Israel right now.

Lest  anyone minimize the importance of this day in either the religious context of returning to our own land – or in the humanitarian context of opening her doors to all Jews, I refer you to Rav Ahron Soloveichik. He has determined that it is proper to say Hallel on this day. And not to say Tachanun – which is normally said weekdays during morning and afternoon prayers – but never on Jewish holidays.

Why no Tachanun on this day?  Rav Ahron’s frame of reference is Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av). We do not say Tachanun on that day because the thousands of martyrs of Beitar were brought to burial after the Roman authorities decree against that was lifted. There was cause for great joy in Klal Yisroel because these bodies could now be treated with dignity. So much so – that it was declared a holiday for all future generations. If Chazal could declare a holiday for this, how much more so should there be a festive holiday when the remnant of the European Holocaust came not to Jewish graves -  but to refuge in the Jewish homeland!

What about Hallel?  The Meiri in the last chapter in Pesachim tells us that an individual or community is overtaken by a Tzarah (disaster of any kind or any source) and is miraculously delivered form it – then there is a Mitzvah to recite Hallel at the time of the redemption and on its anniversary each year. That it is a Mitzvah but not an obligation means that we do not recite the blessing for Hallel. But one may indeed institute saying Hallel for himself and saying it is considered the fulfillment of a D’Oraisa – a Torah based Mitzvah!

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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4 Responses to “The Right Approach to Yom Ha’atzmaut”

  1. who was moses/moosa in koran?jew.who was elijah/idrisa in koran?jew.who was david/daud in koran?jew.who was joseph/yussuf in koran?jew.where were all these people born?israel.who do arabs hate almost?jews.who do arabs respect almost in koran?jew prophets.where were all these prophets were born?israel.what do arabs hate?jews/israel.why?because ishmeal son of abraham was not chosen but given criminal beastic prophecy.

  2. Ishmael’s not A Muslim

  3. Judaism, oldest monotheistic religion still practiced. over 3,000 years old. Christianity became”mainstream” 1600-1800 years ago. Islam is the youngest of the three. The story of creation (Genesis) in the Torah is almost mirrored in Christianity and Islam as well as other similarities. My family is mixed, i know a lot about Islam and Judaism. I am Jewish. as to the Muslim roots… I’ll turn to an Albanian quote “Jews and Muslims are cousins”….. Not every Muslim hates Jews, not every Jew hates Muslims. Muslims from Albania and Bosnia helped save Jews during Holocaust in accordance with Besa.. an Islamic law similar to Afghani code of honor known as Pashtunwali…i know i misspelled that. a lot of the hatred comes from the writing of Qur’an. Mohammed was illiterate and had to speak G-ds word to scribes. it was written over several years. there were years of peace with Jews and periods of war. Mohammed died and that was basically it of the Qur’an. had he lived longer maybe peace between faiths could be clearer and easier. As for this article…Obama doesn’t understand anything about the history of our people. The holocaust wasn’t even the first transgression against our people either…it goes back to the beginning of Judaism. Forgive anything i may have left out or missed with regard to the history of religions. its the best I could do. my sources are my family (Muslim and Jewish), as well as my major in school. History /Poli sci and minor in theology.

  4. Moses was an Israelite baby. His mother sent him up river in a basket so Egyptians wouldn’t kill him or make him a slave. He ended up in Egypt but was actually brought into the royal family. Long story short, he never lost touch with his roots and demanded”let my people go” after a few plagues and this and that sent by G-d, bada Bing bada boom Moses is marching the Israelites from Egypt TO Israel.. The promised land of G-Ds children. Its the story of the Exodus…parting of the red sea..Egyptians drowning when the red sea gives way again. A few hurdles along the way and G-d giving Moses the commandments atop mount Sinai…

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