The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Tachanun on Yom Ha’Atzmaut

with 3 comments

1.  Two years ago I was giving a citizenship talk to the Hasmonean Girls’ School sixth form and we somehow got onto the subject of Yom Ha’atzmaut and how one celebrates it.  A girl at the front announced smugly “I don’t celebrate it at at all, because it’s in the Omer”.  I congratulated her on her perspicuity and added that since the Omer restrictions are to commemmorate the deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s pupils, and since the rabbis attribute the plague that killed them to disunity and in particular the inability to show each other respect while differing on matters of law and philosophy, by ignoring Yom Ha’atzmaut she was indeed keeping the Omer appropriately by introducing a little more division and disunity into the world.

2.  The vast majority of the observant Jewish world today celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut as a modern miracle and a significant spiritual opprtunity.

3.  Of course, different communities do it in their different ways, and according to their different halachic understandings.  In the matter of Hallel, in particular, opinions vary as to whether and how it is to be said.

4.  To omit Hallel on halachic grounds is for the present just about tenable (although I suspect that in another few years it will have become such a tiny minority opinion as to be practically untenable).  But to say tachanun is another thing altogether.

5.  I brought an Israeli friend with me to shul on Yom Ha’atzmaut a few years ago.  When we got to tachanun and the rabbi and a few others started to say it he looked at me with shock and disbelief.  He could not believe that anywhere outside the deliberately isolationist communities of the chareidim tachanun would be said on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and our community, while nominally part of the Adas, does not have the appearance of a chareidi shul.

6.  The general tzibbur of Jews in Eretz Yisroel celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut as a yom tov akin to Purim and Chanukah.  The din of al tifrosh min hatzibbur (do not separate yourself from the community) comes into play at a global level as well as at an individual level.  It takes little to defer tachanun: a private simchah such as a bris is enough to prevent an entire community from saying tachanun: the simchah of 6 million Jews in Israel should be enough to prevent tachanun from being said by the rest of the worldwide community (apart from the fact that even for those of us who do not presently live in Israel the State and its foundation are of enormous spiritual significance).

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Written by Daniel Greenberg

April 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm

3 Responses

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  1. I think it is fair to say that the Shul at least tolerates both sides of the community – those of which who wish to continue saying Tachanun and those who do not. I look forward to seeing the reaction on Thursday morning. Regardless there should be a nice Kiddush after Shacharis in Shul which I am sponsoring!

    Julian Maurer

    May 4, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  2. The question of celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut in general has exercised the Charedi world since 1948. Today we have communities which go the full distance and use the Machzor LeYom Ha’atzmaut (or the service as printed in the Siddur Rimat Yisrael) which includes Hallel – some with a Bracha, some without. There are those who dress in sackcloth (over their regular long coats, it is supposed to be in place of not over) as seen in Ramat Bet Shemes Bet today and there are those who follow soething of a middle way. As you well know, the previous Rav of your Shul refused, for many years, to acknowledge the day at all. Yet there was no more an ardent Ohev Eretz Yisrael than him in the world. This changed a number of years ago and he devised a unique approach to the day. This included the Prayer for the State of Israel, the Prayer for Tzahal, the Keil Mole Rachamim for those lost in both the Shoa and in the wars in Israel as well as three very appropriate chapters of Tehillim. But this Rav refused to budge on the matter of the saying of Tachanun (although he did agree not to say Tachanun on Yom Yerushalayim). The reasoning went something along the lines that the actual Declaration of Independance was, in itself, not a miracle, was immediately followed by mass Chilul Shabbat and the loss of life in the fighting that followed. (In fact I saw a similar occurance when I was in Yerushalayim once on Yom Yerushalayim where two people nearly came to blows in Shul over whether to say Tachanun or Hallel)

    As far as Hallel is concerned, the view taken seems to be that saying Hallel wirhout a Bracha is ok as it is no more than the recitation of Tehillim. However, adding a Bracha is far more problematic Halachically. We have laid down in the Gemarrah the days when Hallel is recited. Adding additional occasions presents difficulties and therefore many do not say the Bracha on Yom Ha’atzmaut, nor, for that matter, on Yom Yerushalayim where far more recognise the miracle aspect of the day.

    The bottom line is not necessarily whether one says Tachanun or not or whether one says Hallel or not but how does one view the day and its celebrations in Israel. it is distictly strange that there are so many Israelis wh celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut religiously with a special service, a holday, trip to the beach, barbeque etc but for whom our other Chagim mean very little. To all reading this response – CHAG SAMEACH!

    Mr Secretary

    May 8, 2008 at 4:58 pm

  3. With regards to the previous comment, is it true that many people celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut religiously whilst not celebrating other Yomim Tovim?
    Surely the parties and barbeques are not religious and I am not sure whether they are particular to daven specially.
    I would say that they treat it as secular. It is still not good but they don’t try giving it Kedushah.

    chaim chossid

    November 18, 2008 at 6:01 pm


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