Yom Haatzmaut: What are we Celebrating?

The process of the return of Am Yisrael back to Eretz Yisrael includes perhaps the greatest set of miracles that has happened to the Jewish People over the last 2,000 years.  Concentrated and unified (for the most part) Jewish efforts geared toward materializing a dream, spanning more than a half century leading up to 1947, was miracle number one.  The second miracle was the UN vote itself that took place in November 29th, 1947.   The third miracle was the victory in War of Independence.  Each of these stages included brave Jewish leaders and heroes, numerous notable details and remarkable stories.  The sum total of it all led to the birth of the Jewish State on ה’ אייר, תש”ח .

The Yad Hachazaka, Hand of God which has guided all of Jewish history revealed itself in a most unbelievable way during the Independence period and establishment of the Jewish State in our ancestral Home-Land.

Do I say Hallel on Yom Hatzmaut?  Absolutely!

Do I say Hallel with a bracha?  Most definitely!

I have often told people, “When it comes to praising Hashem for miracles and blessings, especially of this magnitude, I am comfortable to possibly err with too much praise.  ‘I’ll take the Gehenum for that.’  Oy Va Voy to me and my People if we fall short and don’t praise enough for the greatest blessing that we are privy to!”

In essence, we are celebrating and focusing on the birth-date of Yom Haatzmaut and not the birth-day.

That means to say, Yom Haatzmaut should not be a day celebrating 67 years of Medinat Yisrael or our glorious and powerful army.  That would make the day into a secular holiday and it would be bordering avoda zara.  While we do have hakarat hatov to Hashem for Medinat Yisrael, the IDF and all the good they have done and do for Am Yisrael, these institutions in and of themselves are not a cause for celebration.  Leaving aside the secular nature of the Medinat Yisrael, Tzaha”l and the mistakes that have been made over the 67 years of existence, we wait for a day when the Knesset will be replaced by the Sanhedrin and the army will be led by Mashiach Ben Dovid.  In this spirit, as I heard from Rav Uri Cohen, Rosh Kollel Meretz, Yom Haatzmaut, properly spent (like every birthday), is a wonderful opportunity to also think about how Medinat Yisrael (inclusive of us) can be better, Godlier.

Because of the unique sensitive line between Yom Haatzmaut with kedusha and Yom Haatzmaut without, differing from other Chagim, one has to be extra careful how the day is observed.  We should don special clothes as a way to associate the day with other special festive days like Chol Hamoed.  Our children shouldn’t feel that this is a day off to go hiking and BBQing.  In addition to Hallel during morning dovining, we should certainly make a special seudat-Mitzvah.  At this meal, or mangal (BBQ) event it is crucial that we say Divrai Torah, Shevach to Hashem and sing songs of thanks-giving to Hashem.  If we fail to include elements of rechniyus into Yom Haatzmaut we risk losing sight of the true reason why we are celebrating in the first place.

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