Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, has come and gone. This year we celebrated the 75th anniversary since its founding. It is a day of immense significance for Jews worldwide, for it commemorates the miraculous existence of Israel, the Torah center of the world, and the realization of a longstanding dream. However, a sense of dismay and outrage emerges when observing that many Jews refuse to recognize this miraculous occurrence, and refrain from reciting Hallel, the Psalms of praise traditionally recited on joyous occasions, on this momentous day.
The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was an extraordinary event, representing the culmination of Jewish aspirations and the fulfillment of biblical prophecies. Israel stands as the physical manifestation of the Jewish people’s connection to their ancestral homeland and the embodiment of their religious and cultural heritage. It serves as a beacon of hope and resilience, a testament to the enduring spirit of the Jewish nation.
The existence of Israel holds immense significance as the Torah center of the world. The land is intertwined with biblical narratives, and its cities are home to revered sites that form the core of Jewish identity. Israel’s miraculous existence is a testament to Divine Providence and the unwavering determination of the Jewish people throughout history.
During my recent visit on Yom Ha’Atzmaut to a Jewish community in the United States, I davened in a synagogue where the absence of reciting Hallel with a bracha was palpable. To my astonishment, Tachnun, a supplication typically omitted on joyous occasions, was recited, casting a somber tone over the service. Following the davening, Hallel was recited without the customary blessing, but many individuals chose to walk out, seemingly indifferent to the profound miracle of Israel’s existence. Indeed, this practice is prevalent in many synagogues in the United States, and in many there is no recitation of Hallel at all.
This experience left me with a deep sense of dismay and outrage. How could individuals who probably frequently visit Israel and may even have homes there, and who partake of its facilities, fail to recognize the magnitude of this modern day miracle? It is indeed a shame and embarrassment that these very individuals who enjoy the benefits and privileges offered by Israel choose to disregard its significance on this momentous day.
I often sit at the opening of the Old City of Jerusalem witnessing the prophecies of the prophet Zecharya and others come to fruition, and I wonder why others don’t see what I see. To me Israel represents the Atchalta D’geulah, the beginning of Jewish redemption that we have been praying for thousands of years. Maimonides and Nachmanides and all of our great sages of the past, as well as our grandparents dating back generations, would have given anything to have the opportunities that we have today to visit or live in Israel. To me it is the unfolding of an open miracle that is happening right before our eyes.
Yet there is denial by our people of the significance of this miracle, and they perform halachic acrobatics to excuse themselves from thanking Almighty G-d for it by reciting Hallel, though there are literally hundreds of rabbis who permit and encourage its recitation.
What a shame! How sad it is! Almighty G-d presents us with this gift and we put it aside and ignore it and refuse to offer thanks to Him.
At the time of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Talmud describes how the young Kohanim ascended to the roof of the Temple and threw the keys up to the heavens. A hand descended and snatched these keys and the Jews proceeded into their long exile. To me, it seems G-d is giving these keys once again back to his people, and is proclaiming that it’s time to come home and appreciate the great miracle of the establishment of Israel. Jewish people: Celebrate this miracle! Embrace it!
I hope we will see the day come soon when all our people will openly sing Hallel to recognize this great gift that Almighty G-d has bestowed upon us.