Thursday, May 5, 2011

A letter to an American friend

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for overt and blatant religious-Zionism. Proceed at your own risk.

My Dear Friend,

You don’t know me, and I doubt you’ve heard of my blog. Indeed, chances are – you’ll never see this letter.

Which is why you’re probably wondering why I addressed you as my friend… and why I’m writing to you in the first place.

To answer the former question, I not only call you “friend” in the general, “kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh” (literally, “all of Israel are guarantors for each other” – BT Shavuot 39a) sense, but also because you seem like a very nice person, and I’m sure we’d hit it off if we ever met in real life.

As to why I’m writing to you, well, I read something you wrote, and I must respond.

You were discussing Yom HaAtzma’ut, and you referred to it as “a controversial and horribly divisive day” [sic]. Furthermore, you declared, every year, you “dread” [sic] the holiday and can’t wait for it to be over.

I was shocked!

How could a Torah-committed, mitzvah-observant person - such as yourself - not recognize the Yad Hashem (Hand of Hashem) behind the State of Israel’s establishment??

How could you possibly allude to a commemoration of that clearly miraculous and Divinely-ordained event as “controversial”??

Is your objection that Yom HaAtzma’ut falls during Sefirah?? Don’t you realize that it was HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s Will that the State of Israel come into existence precisely during this time of year??

And then my initial shock turned to sorrow.

It saddened me to think that here you are, a self-professed Heaven-fearing individual, and yet, you lack any feeling of hakarat hatov (gratitude) for the wonderful gift we received 63 years ago!

As a result of this extraordinary, one-of-a-kind gift, any Jew who so desires can now make his/her home in our beautiful, blessed Land.

For 2000 years, our grandparents and great-grandparents could only dream of observing the mitzvot hat’luyot baAretz (the Land of Israel-dependent mitzvot) as well as the great mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael (settling/dwelling in the Land of Israel).

But because of this gift, we’re now privileged to have their dreams as our reality.

And, finally, my sadness changed to pity.

Yes, that’s right.

I feel sorry for you, because you have absolutely no idea what you’re missing.

Because as any Israeli could tell you, Yom HaAtzma'ut isn’t “divisive” [sic] at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For nothing - and I mean nothing - says achdut (unity) like Yom HaAtzma’ut.

You see, the vast majority of the country’s citizens [with the possible exception of a few, completely irrelevant, fringe elements] spend the day celebrating and thanking Hashem and His messengers for His incredible chessed (loving-kindness)… each in their own unique way.

In the evening, we all attend various Yom HaAtzma’ut celebrations – either as active participants or simply to catch a glimpse of the fireworks - and/or watch the national ceremony on TV.

During the day, we cheer on our favorite Chidon HaTanach (National Bible Contest) contestants. (Israel is such a small country - that no one is more than  one or two degrees of separation away from at least one of the competitors!)

And, of course, we flock to the country’s lovely parks and enjoy what essentially serves as one, giant, national BBQ.

Unlike on other festivals - when we generally encounter only our immediate families and members of our own communities - on Yom HaAtzma’ut, we come in contact with our fellow Israelis, from every walk of life.

And when we do, we greet each other with hearty cries of “chag samei’ach!”

I eagerly look forward to the day when you can join us here in Eretz Yisrael and experience Yom HaAtzma’ut for yourself!

!חודש טוב, שבת שלום ויום העצמאות שמח


  1. So I am left wondering why this person says it's "a controversial and horribly divisive day."

    Everything you said sounds like the wonderful day I'm sure it is (and we celebrate with you in little old Edison, NJ).

    The person must have some conflict that we aren't seeing in this post. What are the leaders in this person's community saying, for example?

  2. Leora - Apparently, in this person's US community, there's significant infighting about ridiculous trivialities - e.g. reciting Hallel on Yom HaAtzma'ut and so on.

    But the point is that here in Israel, these are - by and large - non-issues. No one cares who doesn't recite Hallel; who does so without a brachah; and who does so with a brachah. For some people, the State is the Atchalta D'Geulah (the beginning of the Final Redemption), while others are just glad to have a day off from work. But they all watch the fireworks at night and have a BBQ during the day...

  3. I would like to recommend the book Eretz Yisrael inthe Parashah by Rav Moshe Lichtman, Devora Publishing.

    My guess is that you probably already own it.

    If you don't, then I believe that you and your family would get the same enjoyment, fascinating Torah learning, encouragement, and chizuq out of it that I do.

    Thanks for your post!

  4. Ben-Yehudah - Yes, I agree! It's an excellent sefer. In addition, IMHO, Rav Lichtman's translation of "Eim Habanim Semeichah" should be required reading...

  5. how can this person declare that it is a day of unity ,when 20% of the zionist entity, namely those haredim lidvar hashem, consider it a yom she kulo tameh?!!!!!!

  6. Anonymous - I don't know where you got your numbers from, but do you realize that you just accused 1/5 of Israel's population of outright kefirah?! (After all, IMHO, referring to a day of hodayah to Hashem for an incredible miracle as "yom she kulo tameh" [sic] is pretty much the definition of kefirah.)

    In other words, you were deliberately motzi shem ra about many fine, upstanding Jews - the vast majority of whom certainly do NOT feel that way about the State. In fact, I would venture to guess that the number is closer to a mere 1% of the population...

  7. Excellent post! You've made me very curious to see what it was that you were responding to... did you reply to them directly as well?

    Either way, a hearty yashar ko'ach and Chag Sameach tomorrow to you! And here's hoping that our little country reaches the day where our "memorial day" means nothing but sales at the Mashbir :)

  8. The "Brisker Rov" said the day was a smile from HaSh-m to the Jewish people.
    Yet, it fell into the wrong hands, that used it(till today) incorrectly. It should be noted that the name of HaSh-m does not appear in the Declaration of Independence.
    We love Eretz Yisroel and are grateful for this wonderful gift. But a difference must be made the State of Israel and Eretz Yisroel.

  9. Toby - Thanks for your kind words, and יום העצמאות שמח to you and your family. (The answer to your question will have to wait until the next time we meet in person...)

    EY in the Lens - I think you may have missed the point of this post. It's only due to the fact that the State came into existence 63 years ago that any Jew who so desires is now free to come to Eretz Yisrael. Whether or not the State is "perfect" or "ideal" is completely irrelevant. We still have to thank Hashem for the incredible gift He gave us!

  10. Did you hear the story of the wagon driver who's ears got frozen from frost bite?
    What did he do?
    He took some snow and rubbed them on his ears, thus saving them. He said, "Thank G-d my ears froze in the winter time, and therefor I had snow to rub on them".
    I heard in the Name of Gedolim, that if the wrong people had not grabbed power, then the whole of Am Yisroel would have come up with great glory to The Land, just as it says in many of the prophets.
    So as I stated before: We love Eretz Yisroel and are very, very grateful for this wonderful gift. But a difference must be made between the State of Israel and Eretz Yisroel.

  11. Chag Sameach! Did you see the post by IsraelSeen (
    I think you would like it!

  12. EY in the Lens - You're still missing the point of this post, and you seem to have a very, um, unusual grasp of history. (For instance, no one "grabbed power" [sic]...) So, all I can say is that I hope you had a wonderful Yom HaAtzma'ut and that you used the day to thank Hashem for His many blessings.

    Laura - Thanks for sharing that post!


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