Apr 23, 2007

Yom Ha'Atzmaut - plenty to be thankful for

The debate rages every year. Both on a national level and on a personal level.

Do you say Hallel or do you not say Hallel? If you do say Hallel, do you do say full Hallel or half Hallel? Do you say Hallel with a bracha or without a bracha? It has become an emotional issue rather than a halchic issue.

I can easily say that in past years I have done pretty much every option ranging from no Hallel to full Hallel with a bracha. I seem to rethink the issue every year, though the past couple of years I have not said Hallel.

This year we find ourselves in a situation of declining patriotism. It was recently reported that flag sales are down about 50%. Maybe everyone still has their flags from previous years so there was no need to buy new flags this year, or maybe less people are hanging them.

People are upset at all the corruption being revealed in the government. People are upset at the way the government treats its citizens, from issues such as the disengagement to issues like the Second Lebanon War and many others. People feel they are treated as pawns while the leaders seem to be more concerned with their own political careers over the good of its citizens and the State.

People have made that into THE issue of the day.
If you don't say it they claim that you do not appreciate the State. They say you are an anti-Zionist. They say you are not thankful.
If you do say it, people say you are an ultra-Zionist. You are crazy after what the government has done. The State is led by evil, non-religious people. The State of Israel is the only place where Jewish blood flows freely. And more.

But the truth is that Hallel is not really that important of an issue. Say it or don't say it. There are halachic factors that can be used to come to either conclusion and you should study the issues and weigh the factors and come to your conclusions, and consult with your Rav as well.

There is plenty to be thankful for that, regardless of whether you say Hallel or not, you should consider and be grateful that we have returned and are in the process of returning to the Land of Israel.

In my opinion, the evil and corruption perpetrated by current and recent governments should not be a factor in whether or not you say Hallel, now in whether or not you rejoice at some level. The evil perpetrated by current governments does not detract from the greatness of the miracles that took place in the formation of the State and the formation of a homeland for all Jews.

About 100 years ago there were 50,000 Jews living in Israel/Palestine. In 1948 at the foundation of the State of Israel there were 806,000 Jews living here. Today there are 5,725,000 Jewish residents of Israel (of a total population of 7,150,000).

All these Jews have a place to call their own. Sure, plenty of Israelis make "yerida" and leave Israel for greener pastures. However, most of those all have a desire to come back. They are away usually because of the finances involved, not because they do not see Israel as being vital to our existence. On the radio you can now hear interviews with all sorts of people - about relatives who died in battle, with people who founded the State or fought for it or came to it, etc. Everybody, the most non-religious included, says this is our land and we have no other to replace it. This is the land Hashem gave us and this is where we are meant to live.

Despite the government being not-religious, the state is the greatest supporter of Torah learning in history. The State subsidizes almost all the Yeshivas and day schools in Israel. Even if it is a battle all the time to get improved religious services and more religious sensitivities from municipalities and State facilities, it is easy to live as a religious Jew, and it is supported by the State almost all the time.

Despite the government being not-religious, Israel pushed off its Independence Day and Memorial Day to avoid any Shabbos desecration. Can you imagine another country pushing off its Independence Day, for any reason let alone to avoid desecration of something it does not even believe in?

Sure its not perfect, it is far from perfect. But we still have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for.


  1. Personaly, I dont say hallel since I am against the foundation of the state.. however I feel that one who is a zionist cannot excuse his lack of patriotism on the corupt goverment.. patriotism is for the homeland.. regardless of who the ruling party is. In america its different is we are patriots of democracy.

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  3. RAFI,

    "Do you say Hallel or do you not say Hallel? If you do say Hallel, do you do say full Hallel or half Hallel? Do you say Hallel with a bracha or without a bracha?"

    don't forget hallel at maariv or not.

    have you been checking the draft posts on my computer? i wanted to post something on yom haatzmaut that mentioned many of the exact points you mentioned, but i did not have time to finish because i'm busy with exams. (i think my post would have been nastier though.) maybe i'll make it a belated post.


    "however I feel that one who is a zionist cannot excuse his lack of patriotism on the corupt goverment"

    we agree?

  4. When I got back from t'fillah last night, I posted

    We must differentiate between what G-d has done for us and what the politicians are destroying.

  5. NU!!!! you march to chomesh ???

  6. elchonon - I could nto make it.. my wife had already made plans... If I want to be able to disappear at ungodly hours of the night, I have to respect my wife's plans and participate!!!

    ari - you are right. I forgot maariv. I never did that opinion.

    batya - exactly my thoughts

  7. I think that people who have a problem to be thankful are Israelis who never lived in chutz laaretz and don`t know what it means to work with non-jews and having to ask for leaving early on Friday afternoon, or not be able to work exceptionally on Shabbos (just one time!)on an important project in order to make the deadline.
    They do not realize that a non-jew will not easily understand why you have absolutely to leave at 4.00 on friday and why 4.15 will not do- its only 15 minutes.
    Here these problems do not exist.

    Another gruop of people is I believe people who lived in a heavily Jewish environment and had only minimal contact with the non-jews

  8. Rafi,

    Thank you for putting this in proper perspective.

  9. 1) All the newspapers gave out flags from Bank Hapoalim.
    2)It's a bit disingenuous to imply that Israel postpones the holiday for Shabbat because the state honors Shabbat--it's only because of political pressure.

  10. moi - of course politics was involved in the decision, but so what.
    a) there was no real debate on it. The Chief Rabbinate decided and wrote their psak, and the government followed. I do not recall seeing any articles in the various newspapers complaining about religious coercion ad that we cannot give in to the hareidim and whatever else. It was decided and everyone accepted it.
    b)nobody threatened anybody. The religious oparties did not say push it off or else... sure, the government knew that would happen if they insisted the days stay according to the calendar. But the threats and insistences did not take place.


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