Apr 17, 2012

Rav Rosen Argues Against Changing The Celebration Dates of Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim

Another interesting argument in the news is over the recent Rabbanut decision regarding the delayed celebrations of Yom Yerushalayim.

The Rabbanut has argued it's position, saying that these delays are necessary to avoid chillul shabbat. For the most part, this is how Israel has conducted itself regarding Yom HaAtzmaut. Probably more often than not, Yom HaAtzmaut is celebrated on days other than the 5th of Iyar (including this year).

While changing the date of Yom Haatzmaut does repeatedly raise the question of which is the correct day for the special prayers meant for the day, I have never heard any serious argument that the date should not be changed and the risk of chillul shabbat should be ignored.

In this discussion of Yom Yerushalayim, Rav Rosen, the head of the Tzomet Institute opposes the Rabbanut's decision. Rav Rosen said that we don't change the dates of the holidays based on a suspicion that maybe chillul shabbat will be caused. Changing the dates, Rav Rosen said, is the beginning of the end - it is what will eventually cause these holidays to be canceled. The day of Lag B'Omer has halachic and customs ramifications in various issues, such as weddings, haircuts (and upsherin), joyous events during the Omer. It is clearly not possible to move the customs of Lag B'Omer and all its halachic issues to the next day just because of an idiot that will get it wrong. The division between the noting of the day in shul and the minhagim and halacha and between the "street", the schools and the bonfires, is impossible.

Rav Rosen said that in his opinion all the days of Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut should all be moved back to their historic dates.. this is the only way they will be ensured to forever be commemorated.

Rav Dovid Stav, on the other hand, disagrees with Rav Rosen and supports the Rabbanut's decision to move the celebrations. He points out that the bonfires is not a halacha requiring them, and is not even an official custom, it is only Jewish culture. This folklore is what causes thousands of police and hundreds of thousands of Jews lighting the bonfires to desecrate the shabbat. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai would definitely be happy to know that the celebrations in his honor are being done without causing chilul shabbat.
(source: Srugim)

The Rabbanut isn't going to be changing their policy of delaying the celebrations of these days in order to avoid chillul shabbat, but I do find Rav Rosen's argument very interesting and reasonably compelling.

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  1. Consider the following likely scenarios.

    Scenario 1: All the datiim say Hallel on 5 Iyar whatever day it falls on and the hilonim have ceremonies that the datiim won't go to because they are during sefira on a different day. Bad. Keep things the way they are.

    Scenario 2: All the datiim light their bonfires and refrain from tahanun on Lag BaOmer Bizmano and the hilonim do it on a different day. Bad.

    Scenario 3: All the haredim light their bonfires and refrain from tahanun on Lag BaOmer Bizmano and the datiim (except some hardalim) listen to the rabanut and say tahanun on that day but their bonfires and refrain from tahanun on the rabanut's Lag BaOmer. Bad.

    It's sad but basically the rabanut should realize that they have no street-cred to go changing the days of holidays from the way they are currently. No-one or few will listen to them and they will just end up with more fragmentation. They should first of all work on improving their authority and credibility and then start throwing their weight around.

  2. without entering into the merits fo moving or dividing a day's celelbrations or not....
    I would point out that when Shushan Purim is on Shabbat - purim is split into THREE days, due to hillul shabbat issues.
    (what to conclude from this is at the root of all the opinions on what moves or not on Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom yerushalaim, and could apply to lag baomer too)

    And Shusham Purim has been celebrated in Purim Meshulash format for centuries, and the holiday's standing has not suffered - has it?


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