I’ve long been a card-carrying religious Zionist—one of the few labels I’ll allow myself. As such, my tent is firmly pitched in the camp of those who believe that the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 was not just a happy event, but the work of Hashem and—dare one hope—the beginning of the geula, our redemption.
In today’s Jerusalem Post, I read a letter to the “In Jerusalem” section addressing the issues haredim have with Yom HaAtzma’ut (Independence Day), including the fact that religious Zionists refrain from saying Tahanun on that day. According to the letter’s author, Shira Twersky-Cassel,
In Midrash Shlomo, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Rivlin, part of a large contingent of Vilna Gaon students that settled in Jerusalem in 1812, wrote that during the Omer they did not say the Tahanun on two special days. ‘These are ruled by compassion…and therefore untouched by the klipa [the unclean spirits that damage the soul].’ These two days were the 20th of the Omer — 5 Iyar — and the 42nd day of the Omer — 27 Iyar. A century later, on 5 Iyar 1948, the State of Israel was declared. On 27 Iyar 1967, Israeli paratroopers broke into the Old City of Jerusalem, freeing the city from the 19-year Jordanian occupation.
There are times when Judaism, Jewish history and practice take my breath away. This is one of those times.