Volume 26 Number 64
                      Produced: Fri May 23  6:52:37 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Fifth of Iyar
         [Yisrael Medad]
Yom Ha'Atzmaut
         [Shlomo Katz]
Yom Ha`azmauth
         [Haim Snyder]
Yom HaShoah
         [Ed Ehrlich]
Yom Hashoah and Yom Haatzmaut
         [Rabbi Yosef Blau]
Yom HaShoah vHaGvurah
         [Adam Schwartz]


From: <isrmedia@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Sun, 18 May 97 14:04:43 PDT
Subject: Fifth of Iyar

Lon Eisenberg wrote:
>After reviewing this issue, I have reached the following conclusions,
>hopefully based on halakhic (rather than political/emotional) reasons:
>There is no religious significance to the date "5 Iyyar".  The only
>significant event that happened that day was the outbreak of the War
>of Independence.  

 I don't know about Halacha but historically, there is an error here.
The 5th of Iyar was the day that the independence and Jewish sovereignty
were declared over the Land of Israel that the IDF had control over.
 The War of Independence actually started on the morrow of the November
29, 1947 UN Partition Plan and by May 14th, over 1,000 Israelis had been
killed already and the Gush Etzion Bloc had fallen, among other
noteworthy war incidents.

The Halel that is said is in recognition of the importance\ of that day
when Israel as a state was established.

Yisrael Medad


From: Shlomo Katz <skatz@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 12:37:12 -0400
Subject: Yom Ha'Atzmaut

In Vol. 26 Number 60, Chana Luntz <heather@...> wrote:
"One of the classic ways of giving kovod to malchus is to honour the
day on which the king ascended to the throne.  This is done in thes

What's the source for this?  I thought the reason for doing this is so
that "shtarot" (contracts) will be written in a uniform manner so as to
avoid the problems of "shtar mukdam" and "shtar me'uchar".


From: Haim Snyder <snyder@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 08:43:45 +0300
Subject: Re: Yom Ha`azmauth

Lon Eisenberg wrote re
>the "religious" celebration of Yom Ha`azmauth
in which he stated
>1. There is no religious significance to the date "5 Iyyar".  The only
>   significant event that happened that day was the outbreak of the War
>   of Independence.

The most significant thing that happened that day was the declaration of the
establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.  

As to the religious significance of this, the Rambam, in the Laws of Megila
and Hanukka, Chapter 3, Law 1, states the reason for celebrating Hanukka.
The last part of this law says: "vhazara malchus lyisrael yeter al matayim
shana ad hahurban hashainy." =and the return of sovereignty to Israel more
than 200 years until the second destruction.  Therefore, the return of
Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel, which took place on 5 Iyar with
the Declaration of Independence, could well be a rationale for considering
this a religious event.

>2. Even if we can determine an appropriate date to celebrate a "personal yom
>   tov" (for being saved)

The above refutes the need to consider this a "personal yom tov"

As to saying Hallel, the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty after 1878
years (from the second destruction, per the Rambam, above) is sufficient,
since it sufficed for Hannuka.

Haim Snyder     Israel Export Institute Phone:+972-3-514-2880


From: <eehrlich@...> (Ed Ehrlich)
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 17:30:41 +0200
Subject: Yom HaShoah

Shlomo Godick description of "Holocaust and Heroism Day", in my opinion,
does not accurately reflect the nature of the event as it is currently
practiced in Israel.

Mr. Godick wrote:

>The official ceremonies and media coverage evince a very strongly 
>secular-Zionist cultural bias.  Authentic Jewish heroism exhibited in 
>the Holocaust is ignored, for these people "went like sheep to the 
>slaughter", whereas the heroism of "kochi v'otzem yadi", as 
>exemplified in the Warsaw uprising, is glorified.

While this might have been the Israeli attitude to the Holocaust during
the 50s and 60s, this is no longer true.  There is no mention of
anything "like sheep to the slaughter" in any of the ceremonies or any
of the many television and radio programs dedicated to the Holocaust.
One of the major events is the reading aloud of the names of the
Holocaust victims.  No difference is made between those who died in the
ghettos or the forests or in death camps.  Israeli school children are
encouraged to visit the death camps and not just the scenes of various

>Traditional Jewish minhagim of saying tehilim and learning mishnaos 
>are eschewed in favor of the goyishe minhag of standing for a two 
>minute period of silence.

I have heard this claim many times, but the practice of standing silent
for two minutes (which is also done during Memorial Day for Israel's
fallen soldiers) is unique.  First of all a siren is blown.  This is in
a country in which a siren can also mean that the country is under
attack.  Although many formal ceremonies take place, most people hear
the siren while going about their day to day business.  As the siren
starts to sound, people stop in their tracks and for the next two
minutes the country is united with the memory of the Holocaust.
Standing IS a Jewish way of showing "kavod"; this is what we do during
the most prominent parts of prayer services.

Anyone who sees or participates in this event would have no problem
differentiating it from "goyishe" memorial events in which an audience
sitting in a hall rises to its feet.

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>


From: Rabbi Yosef Blau <yoblau@...>
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 19:24:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Yom Hashoah and Yom Haatzmaut

 There is a growing tendency in religious circles to dismiss anything
that originated in the general Jewish community, particularly the
government of Israel. Recent pieces against comemmorating Yom Hashoah
and celebrating Yom Haatzmaut (whose specific religious observances were
established by the chief Rabbinate of Israel in 1948) reflect this
 In the case of Yom Hashoah, the various suggestions of Rabbonim for an
alternate never resulted in a consensus, leaving those uncomfortable
with the existing Yom Hashoah effectively treating the shoah as a
non-event.  THe argument that the original formulation stressed the
Warsaw ghetto uprising apparently ignores the support given to the
revolt by Rav Menachem Ziemba (Hashem Yekom Domo) and active involvement
with the partisans by other noted Rabbis. While we recognize other forms
of heroism, Judaism never opposed fighting back against tyrants.
 When we reacted in the Yeshiva where I work to the recent tragic
helicopter accident where seventy-three Israeli soldiers were killed, we
said Tehillim and fasted Yom Kippur Katan. This was the appropriate
response in a yeshiva, but clearly not applicable to the entire Jewish
community. A silent pause, which can be done by all Jews irrespective of
their level of knowledge and observance and which truly reflects that we
have no explanation why such a destruction of six million Jews occurred,
is appropriate. Many of our greatest rabbinical thinkers have rejected
the attempts to blame the Holocaust on any behavior of some Jews.
 The other posting, which claimed that nothing occurred on the fifth day
of Iyar, apparently treats the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel
after nineteen hundred years of exile as insignificant. Coming so soon
after the Holocaust with Jewish survivors still in shock, and rekindling
hope for meaningful Jewish existence, it is an event of enormous
significance to Jews throughout the world. Anyone who does not see the
Divine hand and the miracles that enabled the state to be born and
survive the simultaneous attack of seven Arab countries, lacks a sense
of hashgacha. I am often astonished by those who see Hashem's hashgacha
in stories of individuals, but not in his saving his people. Since the
establishment of the state there has been an incredible growth of Torah
study centered in Israel, a baal teshuva movement, and the beginning of
a return from exile of Jews from around the world, including a Jewish
escape from Russia and Ethiopia.
 It is true that most of the Israeli pioneers and leadership were not
observant, but that should produce questioning our own communities'
failings rather than denying their accomplishments. In Melachim II. 14:
23-27, Yirmiyahu (according to the gemara in Bava Basra 15a, the author
of Melachim) tells us that Hashem, seeing the Israelites forsaken and
endangered, saved them through Yeravam the second, king of Israel; he is
described in these verses as following the evil path of the first
 Sharing both the joy and the pain of the Jewish people, and not
separating ourselves from the rest of the Jews while doing so, is a
basic religious principle.
 Yosef Blau


From: Adam Schwartz <adamsch@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 09:17:28 +0300
Subject: Yom HaShoah vHaGvurah

on Mon, 19 May 1997 Shlomo Godick of Rechasim, Israel wrote: 
> First of all, it should be remembered that the official name of this day
> is Yom ha-Shoa v'ha-Gvura (Holocaust and Heroism Day).  The particular
> date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto
> uprising.
> The official ceremonies and media coverage evince a very strongly
> secular-Zionist cultural bias.  Authentic Jewish heroism exhibited in
> the Holocaust is ignored, for these people "went like sheep to the
> slaughter", whereas the heroism of "kochi v'otzem yadi", as exemplified
> in the Warsaw uprising, is glorified.

The official memorial ceremonies I've seen in Israel include lighting of
nerot neshama, recitings of Kel Malei, eulogies for whole groups of
people, and the passing on of the oral history of the period by
survivors to whomever is listening.  I don't view that as particularly

Of course there are also poetry readings accompanied by mood-appropriate
music performances.  In the official ceremony of the city of Ra'nana, a
small stage set is constructed on the plaza of the Yad LeBanim and
library.  High School and Yeshiva kids, both secular and religious,
stand there all day and read names of people who perished in the Shoah.
They read for 24 hours straight.  Many people who walk by find it a
moving experience.  Naming the numbers, as it were.  I've seen passersby
take the mike and just say the names of the relatives that they lost.

I'm not sure what you mean by ignoring "Authentic" Jewish heroism.  I'm
not even sure how to define such a term.  But, to make mention of those
who died while trying to defend their own communities doesn't smack of
"kochi v'otzem yadi" to me and I'm not sure why they wouldn't be called

> Traditional Jewish minhagim of saying tehilim and learning mishnaos are
> eschewed in favor of the goyishe minhag of standing for a two minute
> period of silence.

Some of the readings I mentioned above do include the saying of Tehillim.

I've never heard of a siyum mishnayot for Yom HaShoah.  But that is the
fault of we the religious.  If the religious of Israel deny Yom HaShoah
any significance, then all the memorials will be arranged by those far
away from observance and learning.  The result will be the proliferation
of more memorial ceremonies that the religious can mock and
criticize. On the other hand, if more religious Jews get involved in
these ceremonies, the religious content of the memorials will be

As an aside, the 2 minutes of silence may not be a completely "goyishe
minhag".  There are those who connect it to Aharon's silence after the
deaths of Nadav and Avihu, and to Iyov's lack of complaining, initially,
after the death of his children.  Silent acceptance of a tragedy is also
important: as is a crying out to GD via the reciting of Tehillim.

> The Israeli Chief Rabbinate declared Asarah b'Teves to be the official
> mourning day (Yom Ha-Kaddish) for Holocaust victims whose exact yom
> ha-p'tirah is unknown.  However, this has not been adopted by the
> secular establishment, which is interested in maintaining the connection
> to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

The Shoah provided some UN delegates with another political reason to
vote in favor of the the partition plan in order to give the Jews their
own haven.  Some religious Jews theologically see the Shoah as evidence
the goyim did not keep their end of a bargain, therebye nullifying the
Jews' promise not to go back to Israel en masse.  Still, seeking meaning
from the event and lessons for the future are incredibly difficult
tasks.  It becomes a little more tractable for some people when a
connection is made to those who died trying to defend and save other

The army is very very important in a country that is surrounded by
enemies and outnumbered 10 to 1.  It is only natural for a society that
so values its army to seek out role models for it from earlier periods
in our history.  The ghetto uprisings provide such models, even though
they were, technically, as unsuccessful as those in Massada, Beitar,
etc.  But the spirit they showed in defending their fellow Jews, their
total dedication to Am Yisrael, is part of what is honored on Yom
HaShoah vhaGvurah.



End of Volume 26 Issue 64