Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Yom Ha'atzmaut - Day of Mourning or Day of Thanksgiving?

One of my signature issues is that of giving Hakaras HaTov to the State of Israel for all the benefits it bestows on the Torah world – not the least of which is massive funding for their institutions and draft exemptions for the all Bnei Torah. It was the subject of one of my earliest posts here. In fact if I recall correctly a version of that post was published in the Jewish Press.

One might think that’s ‘a gimme’. Of course one should have gratitude to those who help them out in such substantial ways. Unfortunately that is not how it works in certain Charedi circles. This morning in the Jerusalem Post I read the following:

A 50-year-old man who hung an Israeli flag in Mea She'arim was attacked Wednesday by dozens of haredim.

I wish I could be surprised by this. But I’m not. These stories come out with such frequency that I’m surprised when they don’t happen. Nor am I surprised at the Edah HaCharedis boycott of kosher products that bear an image of the Israeli flag. But I am still both saddened and outraged by the mentality that produces this kind of behavior.

It is terribly wrong to - not only ignore the benefits of living in a Jewish state but curse it. This is what the Edah preaches.

With this and all the recent the negative news surrounding Israeli Charedim in recent days is it any wonder that secular Israel sees them as a nation apart? They are! They continuously push themselves deeper and deeper into their own world and away from everyone else.

What will they gain other than becoming modern day Essenes - the Assiyim who lived outside of Jerusalem so they could live their lives in complete purity and not be contaminated with the Tumah - both real and allegorical - that they might encounter in populated areas. Such behavior if it continues will surely take them into extinction as it did the Essenes of ancient times. They cannot sustain themselves without outside help. Eventually they will stop getting it.

Is there any wonder why secular Israelis hate religious Jews?

Tomorrow is Yom HaAtzmaut – Israeli Independence Day. Many will be saying Hallel. Others will be tearing virtual Kriya – like many Arabs and some Charedim.

I am not a Religious Zionist. I will not be saying Hallel as my Rebbe did. But neither will I be saying Tachnun. That’s because I recognize the Chesed of HaShem – the kindness of God in restoring this land back to His people. This was the Ponevezher Rav’s practice and it is mine. One does not need to be a Zionist to understand the significance of the creation of a sovereign Jewish state. Nor does one need to be a Zionist to show appreciation for all it has done.

Few things are more disgusting than cursing the people that feed and protect you.