Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Yom Haatsmaout Torah!

For the first time ever on, a guest contributor!

(by Yehuda HaKohen)
There is great confusion among the Jewish people today as to the true significance of Israel’s Independence Day.
There is a portion of the Nation that relate to it as no different from gentile days that commemorate national independence. These people celebrate the founding of the Jewish state as if Israel were no more than another flag at the United Nations. They rejoice in the holiday and when it ends, they return to their private lives as if nothing of substance had actually occurred.
There are others who view the State of Israel as a destructive entity that exists as a negation of Torah observance in order to create a “new Jew” that would be a great nationalist without adhering to G-D’s Law. This group views the Jewish state as a grave historic tragedy and treats Yom HaAtzmaut as a day of mourning. The most fanatic among this camp equate Zionism with the forces of evil in the world and can often be seen marching with Israel’s enemies at parades and demonstrations (allegedly in the name of Torah).
There is another group within the Torah world who take the opposite approach. They understand the modern State of Israel to be the handiwork of HaShem and an early stage in the development of universal Redemption – a process that unfolds through a series of geopolitical, natural and metaphysical events within history. This group ecstatically commemorates Yom HaAtzmaut as a sacred day possessing the same religious significance as other festivals on the calendar.
The great majority of the English speaking Torah world, however, expresses uncertainty on this issue and finds it safer to ignore the state and festival rather than accept it as good or condemn it as evil. They simply go about their business on Yom HaAtzmaut as if it were no different from any other day.
In order to fully understand the significance of Yom HaAtzmaut, one must clarify what the day is meant to commemorate and what this connotes according to Torah Law. One of the major reasons for the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut is to commemorate the establishment of renewed Hebrew sovereignty in the Land of Israel following a long and bitter exile from our soil. Yom HaAtzmaut celebrates the liberation of Eretz Yisrael from British occupation and the implementation of a Jewish political entity to govern it.
In his supplement to the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban teaches that it is a Torah commandment for every generation that the Nation of Israel take control of and settle the Land of Israel.

“This is what our Sages call Milchemet Mitzvah... And do not err and say that
this precept is the commandment to vanquish the seven nations... This is not
so... This Land is not to be left in their hands, or in the hands of any nation,
in any generation whatsoever... Behold we are commanded with conquest in every
generation... If so this is a positive commandment, which applies in every
time... And the proof that this is a commandment is this: ‘They were told to go
up in the matter of the Spies: Go up and conquer as HaShem has said to you. Do
not fear, and do not be discouraged’. And it further says: ‘And when HaShem sent
you from Kadesh Barnea saying, Go up and possess the Land which I have given
you’. And when they did not go up, the Torah says: ‘And you rebelled against the
Word of G-D, and you did not listen to this command’.” (Positive Commandment 4
of the Ramban’s supplement to the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot)

The Ramban explains the Law as if he foresaw in his generation the arguments and doubts people would bring against this mitzvah today. He states irrefutably that the conquest and settlement of Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah for all time to every Jew in every generation and that Israel are forbidden from allowing any part of our country to fall into, or remain under, gentile control. The Shulchan Aruch states conclusively that all of the arbitrators of Torah Law (Rishonim and Achronim) agree with the Ramban concerning this issue.

“All of the Poskim, both Rishonim and Achronim, decide the Law in this fashion
on the basis of the Ramban.” (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer section 75, Pitchei
Tshuva 6)

The Nation of Israel is eternally commanded by G-D to conquer and implement sovereignty over the Land of Israel.
Therefore, Yom HaAtzmaut commemorates the fifth day of Iyar 5708, when the Nation fulfilled this great mitzvah for the first time in nearly two thousand years by establishing Hebrew rule over Eretz Yisrael. A young man celebrates becoming a Bar Mitzvah because it is his first opportunity to fulfill Torah commandments. He is no longer volunteering but is obligated by Law. While people do not declare a holiday on every day they perform a mitzvah, Yom HaAtzmaut marks Israel’s first opportunity to carry out the directive of sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael in nearly two thousand years. It is our collective Bar Mitzvah signifying the Jewish people’s national renaissance.
Aside from renewing the mitzvah of sovereignty, there is another essential reason to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut. The Megillat Ta’anit teaches that it is a mitzvah to thank G-D for the miracles He performs. This was the basis for sanctifying Chanukah and Purim. After the British were ousted by Jewish freedom fighters and the State of Israel was declared, seven Arab states immediately waged war in an attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. Armed and trained by Great Britain, the Arabs attacked with tremendous force. Israel, on the other hand, had a small and unskilled army with virtually no ammunition or supplies. The entire world expected Israel’s destruction and no nation attempted to organize a humanitarian intervention in defense of the endangered Jews. The Hebrew Nation was in great peril but refused to surrender. As Israel demonstrated tenacious heroism in the face of impossible odds, HaShem marched out to war with His Nation and the Jewish people triumphed over seven Arab armies.
Throughout the exile, scattered Jewish communities have had the authority to establish what is called a “Purim Katan” – a sacred day of thanksgiving meant to express gratitude to G-D for saving a community from danger. Since Yom HaAtzmaut is a day on which a miracle occurred for the entire Nation, it is a Torah precept to ordain a public festival for commemoration of HaShem’s kindness towards His Nation. Israel’s Chief Rabbinate ruled that it is an obligation to say Hallel on this day in order to remember the miracles that G-D performed for Israel during our War of Independence.
If the Law is so obvious, why would so many great Torah scholars appear to be so unsure about (or vehemently opposed to) the State of Israel and the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut? The Gaon of Vilna explains the answer in Kol HaTor (his teachings on the Redemption process).

“The sin of the Spies... hovers over the Nation of Israel in every generation…
How strong is the power of the Sitra Achra that it succeeds in hiding from the
eyes of our holy fathers the dangers of the klipot; from the eyes of Avraham our
father, the klipah of exile... and in the time of the Mashiach, the Sitra Achra
attacks the guardians of Torah with blinders… Many of the sinners in this great
sin of, ‘They despised the cherished Land’, and also many of the guardians of
Torah, will not know or understand that they are caught in the sin of the Spies,
that they have been sucked into the sin of the Spies in many false ideas and
empty claims, and they cover their ideas with the already proven fallacy that
the mitzvah of the settlement of Israel no longer applies in our day, an opinion
which has already been disproven by the giants of the world, the Rishonim and
Achronim.” (Kol HaTor chapter 5)

The most amazing miracle of Yom HaAtzmaut is perhaps the foundation for all of the others. After so many centuries of persecution in the exile, HaShem placed a new spirit of valor within Israel. For the first time since the defeat of Bar Kochva’s revolt against Rome, a courageous generation of heroes arose to raise high the banner of freedom and expel the British oppressor. More astonishing, perhaps, is that G-D strengthened the hearts of Israel’s political leaders, usually so fearfully “pragmatic”, so that they were able to declare the establishment of a sovereign state in the face of so much gentile aggression. And today, while Israel is reasonably aware of our military potential, we should pray that G-D again strengthen Israel’s leadership so that the Redemption may continue in a swift and painless fashion. HaShem should grant His Nation and our leaders the courage and faith to stand up to His enemies, whether they be those who openly commit themselves to our annihilation or those who seduce us with their smiles as they plot to tear apart the Land of Israel with peace agreements.
Yom HaAtzmaut is the most important event to take place for mankind in nearly two thousand years. It was on this day that G-D returned the Israeli Nation to sovereignty over our Land and it is this sovereignty that will lead the world to unparalleled goodness and global harmony. It is the goal of Creation that G-D’s great Name be sanctified through Israel before all of existence. The Maharal of Prague teaches in Netzach Yisrael that in order for Am Yisrael to bring history’s goal to fruition, we must first be united and independent in our Land. Only then, as a major world power that lives a life of national holiness, can Israel reveal the majesty of HaShem in every sphere of life. Only by establishing the Kingdom of Israel – G-D’s Throne in this world – in the whole of our borders, can the Nation bring mankind towards universal blessing through illuminating the world with the light of Torah.
While the current State of Israel has not yet reached the greatness for which it is destined, it must be recognized that the physical vessel is once again in this world and will grow to contain the exalted spirit of Torah. After so many centuries as a ghost walking through history, Israel once more exists within a national framework. The Redemption has begun and the Jewish people have taken an enormous step forward by establishing Hebrew rule in a portion of our Land. While the mere existence of a secular Jewish state was never the final goal of the Redemption process, it is certainly a powerful vehicle which must be driven towards achieving the Nation’s greater aspirations. The Zionist revolution must continue as all the Jewish people return to the entire Land of Israel with G-D’s Temple on the Mount shining Divine blessing to all existence.
Yehuda HaKohen teaches at Machon Meir in Jerusalem and leads the Zionist Freedom Alliance campus organization (


Shlomo Nissenbaum said...

There are a number of issues that are lacking or incorrect in Yehuda haKohen's article. I will just point out three for ack of time.

1) R. Kohen states the objections of the anti zionists without listing any refutations of these objections. It is demagoguery to simply state an opinion which seems on the face of it to make sense (not too mention an opinion agreed to by a Who's Who of poskim and Talmidei Chakhomim) and expect someone to understand on one's own how the opinion is 'obviously' wrong to the 'thinking' person. He should have explained why the State of Israel is not 'undermining' the Jewish People's connection with Hashem by placing laws of the knessest above His laws (for example). This is not to be found in the article.

2) The quote from the Ramban proves nothing if one has any training in reading Rishonim. Rishonim are very exacting in how they write and did not write 'propganda' pieces. What they said is scolarly and needs to be analyzed in a scholarly fashion. To propagandize there words is simply wrong.

If you look at the quoted Ramban he has a few objectives in his comment. (since this is written as a commentary/dispute on the Rambam he is coming to dispel conclusion's drawn by the Rambam and the entire comment must be taken in this light) One point of the Rmaban's is to say that indeed the mitzvah of Kibbush is is mitzva of Kibbush - not just 'fighting'. Furthermore, this mitzva is not just for the time of Yehoshua. This is proven by Chazal's criticism of Dovid for conquering Aram etc. prior to finishing the Kibbush of EY in it's entirety. There is no prof whatsoever from the Chazal quoted, or for by extension in the Ramban for a mitzva of Kibbush in Golus. (you might argure - the proof is from lack of a reason to distinguish between Golus and Geulo but this assertion is refuted by the hemshekh of the Ramban. as we will now see)

3) The Ramban goes on to posit a CHiddush, that there is a mitzva of Diras Eretz Yisroel which we find in Chazal is a corollary of the mitzva of Kibbush (most probably since there is no other mitzva which one can ascribe this to). It is only regarding this mitzva which is individual in nature that the Ramban said is applicable in Golus. The rational for the distinction is simple. WHile on a national level the Jewish nation was sent into Golus (see Neviim, Kesuvim, Chazal in many places) and by definition if G-d sends the nation into Golus that means they are precluded as a nation from being in EY, as this is the definion of Golus (va'Avadtem Meheira....) certainly there can be no chiyyuv to conquer a land that G-d Himself has sent us away from until he let's us know He wants us back. On the other hand, as far as an individual is concerned - where he lives has no bearing on the state of the National Golus and hence, just like may Jews lived very riteous lives in Golus and had a 'personal' Geula in there relationship with Hashem despite the national Golus in relationship to Hashem so too individuals may live in EY as well.

See Ramban in Both Tokhekhot where he states quite explicity that that which the Tora says - lo me'astim l'chalosom r"l of the golus is only applicable while we are "bEretz Oyvehem". Otherwise we have reactions like the Holicaust God Forbid and well.. we do not want to say explicitly things which all familar with current events know. It is scary even to alude to it b'remez, Hashem Yishmor es Amo.

3) the assertion that we should celebrate Israel's independence day due to thanksgiving for a miracle can be refuted with a simple parable:

If someone jumped into a cage with a grizzly bear for some nutty reason like some people do every now and then, and despite his idiocy he escaped without being mauled - this is not a reason to celebrate - one does not celebrate one's own foolishness, even when saved from it. By brazenly declaring a state knowing this would lead directly to the slaugter of many Jews the Zionists displayed utter recklessness. They are in fact guilty of indirect murder for all those who have died in that war as well as anyone who died in subsequent war's due to th state's shenanigan's.

Can you answer what imperative made it permissible to declare the state and bring the certain death of thousands? I only know of 3 mitzvos which are yehoreg v'al yaavor. Conducting war is something that must be done by a Melekh and a Sanhedrin (Urim v'tumim?). See Maseches sanderin. We have none today so these cannot be considered wars either. Just Murder of Jews. in order to play out some crazy flights of fancy with Jewish Jingoism and thisrt for the illusion that we are in control of our own fate. We are powerful.

Dan said...

I think the answer to your questions is simply that not all issues can be addressed in one article. This was more meant to give a taste to the readers then be fully comprehensive.

Your comments seem more like a frustration of the reality we live in because u refuse to admit the fact that we are independant on ourland... your allusion to the fact the holocaust was created by zionism is compeltely crazy... especially considering the fact that it happened in EUROPE and it is the rabbis who called on their congregations to stay in Poland that need to ask themselves questions, not the ones who called on their congregations to go to Israel!

But I messaged Yehuda Hakohen and I hope he'll answer each of your questions himself... if he doesnt,I will when i finish exams.

Moadim Lesimcha... and May all Jews (religious and non religious) stop the Kfira of believing that the State of Israel was created by Zionists and not by God... I mean come on, give God a bit of credit!