Thursday, May 5, 2011

YOM HA'ATZMAUT: Israel Independence Day

Today is the 1st day of Iyar, 5771/ ROSH CHODESH IYAR/ 16 days of Omer (2 weeks, 2 days)

Israel Independence Day, Yom ha'Atzmaut, is celebrated annually on the 5th of Iyar, the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel (May 14, 1948). This year the 5th of Iyar is Monday May 9th at night. So the celebration of Yom ha'Atzamut will extend from Monday night until Tuesday May 10th evening.

During Yom ha'Atzmaut we say Halel, thanking God Almighty for the miracles He performed for us in our own days with our own fathers, brothers and sisters. A miracle, that unlike other miracles, is part of our visual memory: The establishment of Medinat Israel and its existence, against all odds, from 1948 until today. The gathering of exiles, and the possibility that we all have today to visit, or even better, to establish ourselves in the homeland of Abraham, Yitzhaq and Yaa'qob.

The day preceding this celebration, from Sunday night, May 8th until Monday evening is Yom haZikaron, a day devoted to honor the memory of the soldiers and fighters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence.

It was 3400 years ago. Moshe addresses the new generation of Am Israel, as they happily and eagerly prepare themselves to inherit the Promised Land, the land of honey and milk. In the midst of their enthusiasm Moshe Rabbenu has some serious words of warning from God Almighty:

This land is a divine gift that might be taken away from you. If you abandon My covenant [the Torah]... I will turn my face -My protection- away from you ... then, your land will be captured by your enemies and you will be taken captives and exiled to the four corners of the planet... However, your fate will not be like the fate of other people, civilizations and empires: because of my covenant and my promise to Abraham, Yitzhaq and Ya'aqob, I will never allow the Jewish people to disappear.

That is My promise to you. The people of Israel will exist forever...

One day, if you return to Me: (Debarim 30, 4)"even if you might be scattered to the end of heavens -the farthest countries on earth- your God Almighty will bring you back from there and He will rescue you form there. And the Lord your God will bring you to the land that had belonged to your ancestors and make you even more successful and numerous than they were".

63 years ago this amazing prophecy took place with the establishment of Medinat Israel. A prophecy that during centuries our ancestors could only dream about. We have the incredible merit to be living their dream.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024