web analytics
September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Observance Of Yom Ha’Atzmaut And Yom Yerushalayim

Israeli flag

Photo Credit: Dima Vazinovich/Flash90

In 1949, a year after the establishment of the state of Israel, the Israeli government declared that the fifth of Iyar should be observed as a national holiday.

In response, the chief rabbis of Israel, R. Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog and R. Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel, recommended to the Chief Rabbinate Council that the fifth of Iyar be observed as a “day [commemorating] the joy of the beginning of the redemption of the Jewish people.”

This establishment of a new “festival” posed a great halachic dilemma. Some suggested that instituting a festive day for the entire Jewish people to celebrate, even those who did not personally experience the miraculous events, constitutes a violation of the biblical injunction of bal tosef, derived from the verse, “You shall not add [to the mitzvot]” (Deut. 4:2).

In the Talmud, we find this prohibition applies to adding parts to already existing mitzvot, such as wearing five tzitzit instead of four, but Ramban implies that this injunction may also include adding a new holiday (see Hilchot Megillah V’Chanukah, 3:1).

Ramban alludes to the conclusion of the Gemara, which describes how the sages found a biblical precedent for the establishment of the reading of the megillah.

Others argued that this view is not cited by other Rishonim. Indeed, we often see that the rabbis instituted mitzvot. Rather, the distinction lies in whether these mitzvot are perceived as biblically obligatory, as Ramban himself mentions.

Furthermore, Ramban may have only questioned the institution of the mitzvah of mikra megillah, and not the establishment of a festive day. Finally, commemorating Yom Ha’Atzmaut was not intended as an addition to the Torah but rather an application of the well-established principles of hakarat hatov and giving hodaah to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for saving the Jewish people and giving them a country in Eretz Yisrael.

* * * * *

In grappling with this issue, numerous poskim looked for prior historical/halachic precedents. Centuries earlier, the Acharonim debated whether a community may establish a personal “Purim,” a day of thanksgiving commemorating a miraculous event that occurred.

R. Moshe Alashkar (1466-1542) rules that a community certainly has this authority to establish a “Purim in order to publicize a miracle that happened on a specific day,” and it is binding upon generations to come.

R. Chezekiah da Silva, in his commentary to the Shulchan Aruch, the Peri Chadash, confirms that numerous communities have instituted festive days in order to commemorate miraculous events.

He cites R. Alashkar but disagrees. He contends that nowadays we rule that “batla megillat taanit” – the days enumerated by the chronicle Megillat Taanit, which commemorates joyful events that occurred to the Jewish people during the time of the Second Temple and were celebrated as festive days, are no longer in practice. Therefore, not only are these days not observed but one may no longer institute holidays that commemorate festive events.

R. Moshe Sofer, known as Chatam Sofer, rejects Peri Chadash’s argument. In a responsum written in 1805, he argues that although one may not establish a day that commemorates an event related to the Beit HaMikdash, one may certainly establish days that commemorate other miracles. Furthermore, the Talmud never meant to discourage or prohibit establishing festive days for cities or countries but rather only a festival meant to be observed by the entire Jewish people.

In fact, Chatam Sofer relates that the Sefer Yosef Ometz records a miracle that occurred in Frankfurt am Main on the 20th day of Adar, and they established it as a festive day for generations to come. He relates that his teacher, R. Natan Adler, as well as his community, which was located far away from the city, also observed this festive day.

About the Author: Rabbi David Brofsky is author of “Hilkhot Mo’adim,” published by Maggid Books, a division of Koren Publishers Jerusalem.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “Observance Of Yom Ha’Atzmaut And Yom Yerushalayim

  1. Shy is Israel called a ‘state’ and not a country?

  2. They have the right to celebrate the day.

  3. Definition of the word State: a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.

  4. Jill Fisher says:

    Please help me to report Jim Bethel ( see his comment below) He is spamming articles on Israel, Holocaust Survivors and Judaism in general.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Obama in the fog.
US Says It Doesn’t Even Know How Many Americans Live in West Bank
Latest Indepth Stories
The Palestinians have desecrated Joseph's Tomb on more than one occasion.

The purpose of an attack on Joseph’s Tomb is to murder Jews at prayer and destroy a Jewish holy site

Broken Telephone

A nuclear Khomenist Tehran will be a threat to Western democracies and to Jerusalem in particular

Major Monster, "Shirley Temper" looking at the cameraman.

The MONSTERS of Nebi Saleh know well the damning, visceral impact of powerful, deceitful imagery.

Proud Members of Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

Unlike Judaism & Christianity which honors “truth,” Islam pursues “Taqiyya,” strategic lying

Yashar Lachayal’s mission is to learn what IDF soldiers’ need and get it to them when they need it.

Corbyn leading the Britain’s Labour Party polls, describes Hamas & Hizbullah as England’s “friends.”

The convicted murderer was released from Israeli prison with more than two dozen other sociopaths

JCF is a donor/supporter of The New Israel Fund which supports BDS & wants IDF soldiers prosecuted

The ‘Peace Industry’ promotes its adherents; weak leaders, both military & political, is the result

The conundrum for US Labor Zionists: Lobbying for Iran deal while Israel’s Left lobby’s against it.

What does the Torah want from our small nation described as “they who struggle with God & with men”?

Mr. Nadler’s support for the deal is a naked political gift to a president who has defied logic in his quest to reinvent international affairs according to his ideological inclinations.

More Articles from Rabbi David Brofsky
Israeli flag

R. Hadaya strongly argues in favor of establishing a festive day in commemoration of the establishment of the state of Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/observance-of-yom-haatzmaut-and-yom-yerushalayim/2014/04/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: