web analytics
March 30, 2015 / 10 Nisan, 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
One-third of polled Republicans see President Obama as the biggest imminent threat to the USA.
One-Third of GOP Voters See Obama Worse for US than Assad and Putin
Latest Indepth Stories
jabotinsky with sword

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama Racine

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

Auschwitz Entrance

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Bibi and Obama: Head to Head

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

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: