Sunday, April 30, 2006

Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations in the US

The fifth of Iyyar has got to be the most divisive day on the Hebrew calendar. What other day has Orthodox Jews running the full gamut of Hallel with a Beracha to donning sackcloth? [ I have heard of some people actually saying both Hallel and Selichos, when Yom HaAtzmaut falls on Baha"b (the Monday-Thursday-Monday series of fast days after Rosh Chodesh Iyyar and Cheshvan).]

This post is addressed to the Religious Zionists of America.

I can definitely understand you. You feel that there is what to celebrate on Yom HaAtzmaut. There have been some very impressive victories on the battlefield, where the commanders of the IDF have witnessed the Yad Hashem, and the strides Israel has made from an economic standpoint have been quite staggering, such as in the realm of technology. The desert has bloomed for her returning sons and daughters, and holocaust survivors take solace in the existence of a place they can call home.

On the other hand, there is great anguish involved in the fact that those who have been, and still are, at the helm of this return to Eretz Yisrael have been people who are anti-Torah. The establishment of the State by Jews who were alienated from G-d and sought to alienate others as a matter of principle is enough to rip your heart out. The Israeli movie industry is notoriously pornographic, there are gay parades, and other abominations. And we cannot simply ignore this, as the media and the Israeli establishment continue to malign those Jews who are faithful to their Father in Heaven. Hashem has allowed his children to return to His palace, and there are some sons who are so blinded that they spread the spiritual equivalent of trash in His Holy Land, which was the source of our forced departure from the Land to begin with.

Considering that this is the case, I cannot comprehend why so many of the Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations organized by religious Jews, especially in the Diaspora, seem to place so much emphasis on Israeli culture. There may be some Israeli folk dancing, singing of "Shirei Eretz Yisrael" composed by some of the more virulent Torah haters in Israel, eating Israeli ethnic foods such as falafel or mangal (barbecuing - a widespread "Minhag" of Yom HaAtzmaut), flag dances and singing of HaTikvah, and the like. It seems to me that this is a celebration of the secular elements of the State, which are a source of tremendous pain!

Wouldn't it be so much more, well, Jewish, if this Israeli Independence Day were commemorated by organizing Shiurim which relate to the Hashkafic and Halachic elements of Eretz Yisrael, and perhaps inviting a religious IDF officer to relate his sense of awe in feeling the Yad Hashem guiding the wars of the State, instead of celebrating those elements of the Medinah which were meant to supplant our true source of unity - our beloved Torah? As Rav Saadya Gaon states - "Our Nation is not a Nation except by virtue of its Torah".

Please, make these celebrations a Kiddush Hashem by investing them with a deep sense of gratitude to Hashem for the ability to serve Him in His holy palace, not for the ability to eat falafel or sing an anthem which makes no mention of Him.


Blogger Jak Black said...

Glad I get to be the first one to wish you luck with your new blog. As I said, I might foist a guest post or two on you :)

2:18 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

Here is what I wrote on this topic on cross-currents:

Maran HaRav Kook Zt”l writes (I believe in Orot HaKodesh) on the sin of Nadav and Avihu that their sin was the separation of the sephira of bina from the sephira of chochma.

In context, bina, represents impulse/innovation where chochma represents structure/authenticity.

He writes that both faculties are needed for valid avodat Hashem. My feeling about Yom HaShoa/Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut/Yom Yerushalaim is that they represent bina without chochma.

In the rush to innovate, the stamp of chochma never sealed the rituals or the symbols of these days. This is why a religious person, even a RZ one, can not connect to these days the same way they connect to the more ancient rabbinic holidays (tisha beAv, chanukah, purim). Perhaps as our nation becomes spiritually healthier in our own land with (b”h, one day) real Torah institutions (I am not talking just about yeshivas, which, B”H we have but rather national Torah institutions), these days can go though the proper process to become more authentic.

End cross-current post.

I for one did not say Hallel last year and I doubt I will do so this year. It is not because I don't see the halachic/hashkafic argument to do so. I do. It is simply that I can not seem to generate the level of simicha hallel requires when I know what the government has done and intends to do.

4:00 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

Still working on my Hasmada though

From my experience, running a blog will not help it. ;)

4:44 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

From my experience, running a blog will not help it.

Only until my wife makes me shut it down. Then, it'll be rip roaring learning time!

5:43 PM  
Blogger Outoftown said...

This was a wonderful post. I wish I could see the kind of celebration you describe. The celebration I went to was really unfortunate, especially as it was run by an Orthodox school.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Bari said...

Thanks, outoftown.

I saw you posted about this issue as well on your blog. The type of celebration I describe would go a long way to foster the Achdus we all yearn for, maybe even in your own community.

10:37 AM  

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