Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yom Haatzmaut: Take a Stand

For a comprehensive look at this topic see this article by Rabbi Alan Haber.

As everyone knows, there are many perspectives on how to treat Yom Haatzmaut. Will you go to a chagiga with live music? Will you be reciting Hallel? Will you have a seudah? Opinions on this topic tend to be impassioned, and with good reason: we are dealing with a very important issue.

I give full credence to the validity of more than one position on how to celebrate the day. However, there is one thing I do not understand. I do not understand those people who decide to “play it safe” and therefore end up doing nothing.

The question is as follows: is Israel a gift from Hashem to the Jewish people or not?

Satmar (for example) takes a clear stand on this issue: the State of Israel is an evil thing, and therefore it is appropriate to mourn on this day. Or if you are someone who thinks that the State has nothing to do with Hashem, then you very well may ignore the day completely, and that would be consistent.

If, however, you believe that Israel is a gift from Hakadosh Baruch Hu, then it is your obligation to do something to recognize this fact.

Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable going to a chagiga with live music during the omer? Fine, gather together some like-minded friends and have a kumzitz. Your rabbi paskens not to say hallel? So say some prakim of Tehillim. Listen to a shiur online. Eat a seudah. These are things that people can do without worrying about breaking the minhag of mourning during sefirah, without worrying about brachot levatalah.

I find that all too commonly people will say, “No, I’m not going to the program/chagiga tonight because of the tefillah chagigit and the live music,” and then instead, they simply do nothing. If you believe that Hashem gave us Israel, that there were nissim, that we are incredibly blessed to have our own state in Eretz Yisrael (despite its very imperfect government), then it is wrong not to thank Hashem, not to acknowledge His gifts, His blessings, His miracles.

Have a Yom Haatzmaut sameach, in whatever way you choose to celebrate!


Ezzie said...

I'll be celebrating at work... :(

Erachet said...

chag sameach!

M.R. said...

Well put.
The most meaningful Yom HaAtzmaut I ever had was spent hiking Nachal Yehudiya with a few friends. We spent nearly the whole hike either talking Torah or being head-over-heels greatful to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for giving us this land.

jackie said...

Agreed, and agreed.

I think I got a seuda, a shtickle kumzitz, and some extra tehillim in! :-)

The way one of my rebbeim taught, there is a valid appriach that falls in between the approaches of Zionism and anti-Zionism. Sure, there are the chassidish groups who are anti-zionist, and who think that any Jewish State before mashiach is a bad, bad thing. There are those who find the State to be good thing, something for which we should thank Hashem, and in that camp there are those give the day religious significance and halachic implications--by saying Hallel and listening to live music--and there are those who don't.

And then there are those who are opposed to the construction of a non-religious state but are not against the general idea of regaining political authority of Israel. For this group, there are many gripes to direct at the present government, and a certain discomfort with affiliating with the Zionism that exists today. But at the same time, it would be a crime not to thank Hashem for all of the good things that have befallen Bnei Yisrael in the past 59 years. To deny that we've seen kibbutz galuyos is blindness. But maybe there's a way to be thankful without making it into Yom Ha'atzma'ut in the organized sense.

The way that I would most want to celebrate is by doing what m.r. did. That sounds really great!

I don't think I'm disagreeing with you--just outlining a few more approaches.

the apple said...

SJ, I don't know if you're even looking at this anymore, but I thought I'd share what I'm thinking.

For me, Yom Haatzmaut is SUCH a confusing issue. I don't feel like I have ever truly had a satisfying discussion with a rav (or rebetzin) that really explained to me the halachic/hashkafic ramifications of the day. I would say that at this point, the second view that Jackie cited is where I'm at, although I still would like to feel like I'm on solid ground.

And because I have never really had the chance to talk it over with a rav, I won't just do whatever I want and make up my own version of what is halachically acceptable. I did make a point of saying tehillim that is specifically for the safety of E"Y and eating some special food, though. Do I feel like this was enough? I don't know. Do I feel comfortable doing more without the guidance of a rav? NO.

Obviously, everyone is at his/her own place vis-a-vis celebrating Y"H (or not, as the case may be). I don't want to pasken for anyone, since I don't think I know enough to say anything definitively. Just thought I'd share what's on my mind!

Northern Light said...

Is Erez Yisroyal a gift from HaKadosh BaruchHu? Of course; everything is a gift from Hashem, and the State of Israel is just a very obvious nace. But one must ask why this birthday occurs in the midst of the Omer...I don't know the REAL answer, but could it be that receiving the Land is part of our counting, part of our ascending to receive the Torah on Shavuos? Certainly we note this day; certainly we are grateful, in the extreme. How to celebrate? That's a personal thing.

sharona said...

I feel that the state shouldn't have been re-established until after mashiach comes because it's not time yet. But living there individually is fine. I still though love the people and the land. And I feel it is a gift from G-d. Unfortunatly a long time ago we abused that gift and were kicked out. - Re-establishing the state sounds nice but it's premature because we really shouldn't have until it's time.
Anyway, I pray for peace and for mashiach to come soon