October 22, 2019

The great Independence Day debate: Letter 7

This the seventh letter in a debate on changing the date of Independence Day in Israel. Readers who are not yet familiar with the debate can read more about it here.

The letter comes from Udi Lion, a graduate of Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the director of special programming at Israel’s Keshet Broadcasting. 

I do not wish to place myself between titans, but I wholeheartedly support the comments by Rabbi Miki [Avraham] and Rabbi Yehuda Brandes.

A.  Religious holidays of Israel: The time has come for the Torah not to be always standing opposite the enjoyment of life and religious holidays. Beyond the usual association of the Torah as something that is ‘anti-life’, as we saw in the case of daylight saving hours [when the Israeli government insisted to have a shorter summer schedule for religious considerations and against what most Israelis wanted]. If we are ready to postpone the holiday out of fear of desecrating Shabbat (when Independence Day begins on Friday or Sunday), and [in such cases] all the respected concerns raised by Rabbi Avi [Gisser] do not bother us, then why does this [the permanent change as proposed in the new legislation] becomes less of a celebration of the holiday and love of the Torah? 

B. As has already been pointed out, the days of Purim have been adjusted [to accomodate Shabbat].  So why are we harder on ourselves when there is no religious commandment [binding us to a certain date]?

C.  There has already been a mention [of the G-dly command] of “These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of God, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies”.

D. We have no greater evidence for reviving the Kingdom of Israel than our ability to set the dates of holidays.

Thus, in my opinion, the biggest mistake the government made was to anchor Holocaust Memorial Day to the 27th of Nissan [the date of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising] instead of anchoring it to [the Jewish date of] the 10th of Tevet [the day commemorating the beginning of the Jerusalem siege] – but we accepted the command with love.