Volume 26 Number 66
                      Produced: Mon May 26 16:01:28 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Independence Day
         [Elanit Z. Rothschild]
Yom Ha-Shoa v'Ha-G'vura
         [Shlomo Godick]
Yom HaSho'ah
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Yom HaShoa
         [Jeremy Schiff]


From: <Ezr0th@...> (Elanit Z. Rothschild)
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 23:12:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Independence Day

<< 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.  That hardly is reason to celebrate being saved.  Perhaps
 if we could put an end date to the war that would be an appropriate
 date to chose. >>

   Although many have already replied to this and other statements made
by the poster, I would like to add a little to the discussion.
   On Yom Haaztmaut of 1956, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik presented an
essay he wrote based on Shir HaShirim (5:2-6), where the lover knocked
on the door of the beloved is portrayed.  This essay is called "Kol Dodi
Dofek."  In that essay, Rav Soloveichik describes 6 "knockings," so to
speak and describes them like this:

  1. The establishment of the state of Israel in a political sense was
an almost supernatural occurrence.  When the UN proposed the idea of the
establishment of the state, both Russia and the western countries
supported it.  This was perhaps the only proposal where East and West
were united.  I am inclined to believe that the United Nations was
created specifically for this purpose- in order to carry out the mission
which the Divine Providence had set for it.
  2. The small Israeli defense forces defeated the mighty armies of the
Arab countries in the War of Independence in 1948.
  3. The third knock may have been the strongest knock of all.  The
Christian teaching that deprived the children of Israel of their rights
to the land of Israel has been publicly refuted by the establishment of
the State of Israel and has been exposed as false and lacking all
  4. Beginning in the 1940's mass assimilation overtook the Jewish youth
of the world.  With the establishment of the State of Israel these Jews
started to turn back to their people and its values.
  5. The most important knock of all is the suprise to our enemies that
Jewish blood is no longer free for the taking.  It is not hefker.  If
anti-Semites wish to describe this phenomenon as "an eye for an eye"
literally, then so be it!  The Torah has always taught that a person is
permitted, indeed, it is his sacred obligation, to defend himself- not
only his life but his property. Blessed be He who has granted us life
and brought us to this era when Jews have the power, with the help of
G-d, to defend themselves.
  6. When the gates of the land were upon a Jew could now flee from a
hostile country and know that he can find a secure refuge in the land of
his ancestors.  This is a very new phenomenon in our history...Had the
State of Israel arisen before Hitler's Holocaust, hundreds of thousands
of Jews might have been saved from the gas chambers and crematoria.

  Now, Rav Soloveichik was not the only Rav who shared his views.  I can
name a few more....Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel, Rav
Yisochor Shlomo Teichtal, who believed that it was a severe tactical
error on the part of the Torah community to avoid involvement in the
reutrn to Israel because the Zionist movement and its followers were
non-observant (Rav Teichtal died in the Budapest ghetto in 1944).

<< 2. Even if we can determine an appropriate date to celebrate a "personal
 yom tov" (for being saved) I don't believe there is the concept of saying
 Hallel on such a day.  I think Hallel is said to acknowledge a
 miracle, such as on Hanukkah (and perhaps Yom Yerushalaim).  There is
 certainly no concept of saying yom tov psukei dezimrah [holiday
 psalms] on such a day.

3. I don't see how those of us who lived (or whose ancestors lived) in
 America (or another place not in danger during the War of Independence) can
 celebrate a personal yom tov on that day or any day chosen for such
 celebration. >>

  For some reason, comment # 2 above seems to me as a contradiction.
What makes Chanukah or Yom Yerushalayim more of a miracle than Yom
Haaztmaut?  Yom Yerushalayim would not have occured if not for Yom
Haaztmaut!  The miracle of Chanukah, looking at it from a political
point of view, was "masarta giborim beyad chalashim, verabim beyad
meatim."  What is the difference between that and the miracle of Yom
Haaztmaut and the war following it?  Comment # 3 is even more a
contradiction!  Did any one of us live during the miracle of Chanukah or
Purim?  Ok... our ancestors did.  But what about those of us whose
ancestors lived outside of Eretz Yisrael at the time of Chanukah or
those of us whose ancestors lived outside of King Achashverosh's
 Then should we not celebrate those miracles?

  In sum, I don't see the reason or the point for specifically not
seeing yad Hashem in the miracle of Yom Haaztmaut.  If it is to say that
the miracle came in the hands of non-observant Jews, than I still can't
see the point. G-d saved Jewish lives nontheless and gave us back Eretz
Yisrael.  Anyone who visits Israel, lives in Israel or believes that
Israel should be in Jewish hands has the obligation, IMHO, to consider
what happened in the years 1947-8 a miracle.

Elanit Z. Rothschild


From: Shlomo Godick <shlomog@...>
Date: Sun, 25 May 1997 13:35:00 -0700
Subject: Re: Yom Ha-Shoa v'Ha-G'vura 

<eehrlich@...> wrote:
>      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 uprisings.

I did not mean to imply that Jews who died in the camps were directly
and openly denigrated as having "gone like sleep to the slaughter"
(although one occasionally hears such remarks by anti-religious
politicians).  Surely Israelis sincerely mourn all Jews that perished,
without distinction as to *how* they died (with a sword in hand or a
sefer in hand).  What I intended was that in the national secular
consciousness, actual examples of authentic Jewish heroism (learning the
halachos of kiddush ha-shem prior to an SS onslaught, a rav's returning
to his kehilla from an overseas fund- raising trip knowing full well he
is entering the inferno, Jews eating a seuda shlishis of a crust of
bread and water and singing the nigunim as the "cattle" train wends its
way to Aushwitz, and thousands of other examples of Jews transcending,
defying, and refusing to be influenced by their bestial surroundings as
they steadfastly and courageously maintain their high moral and
spiritual level) are regarded as passive or even cowardly behavior not
worthy even of mention, let alone praise.  The vignettes of Jewish
experience in WW II generally related in the media are concerned more
with the conventional modes of heroism (the underground movements, the
uprisings, and otherwise actively fighting back) which are not
specifically Jewish in character.

>      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.

You may have a point here.  However, the fact remains that the
siren-blowing and standing still are still an innovation (you yourself
admit that it is "unique"), and do not hearken back to any traditional
Jewish minhagim of mourning.  As such, it appears to be a further
example of the secular establishment's attempt to create a historical
discontinuity between past Jewish tradition and experience and the
present secular-Zionist culture in Israel.

Kol tuv,
Shlomo Godick
Rechasim, Israel


From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer <sbechhof@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 15:14:26 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Yom HaSho'ah

A year ago I gave a shiur on the topic of Yom HaSho'ah, pro and con (it
is available from our Brandman Memorial Tape Library, CH 186 if I recall
correctly, you may contact me if you are interested), based on the
literature that has been written, including Dr. Joel Wolewelsky's essay
in "Tradition" pro, that many MJer's are doubtless familiar with.

My conclusion, however, is that the Chazon Ish was correct in eschewing
the practice, because his "lomdus" (rationale) is irrefutable: There
cannot be any kedushas haz'man (consecration of time - either for
celebration or mourning) in Judaism without either a Torah decree, such
as the Yomim Tovim, a Rabbinic decree, such as Chanukah, or a
precipitating event of sufficient magnitude linked to that day, such as
Chaf Sivan (a fast day established to commemorate massive slaughters by
Chielmintzki yemach shemo v'zichro in "Tach v'Tat, 1648-1649), or the
various local Purims established by localities after miraculous

The Chazon Ish, in fact, does not mention the last option explicitly -
he seems to hold that our generation (that should be emended - his
generation - the likes of which - a Dor De'ah - we will unfortunately
never see again) does even possess the capacity to determine that a
precipitating event is of sufficient significance to create the
permutation in time necessary to allow for permanent tampering with the
sanctity of the calendar. Nevertheless, clearly great sages such as Rav
Herzog and Rav Meshullam Roth and others who approved of lending a
religous character to Yom Ha'Atzma'ut held that we (they!) still had
that capacity. This is a matter of legitimate Halachic debate.

Yom HaSho'ah, however, commemorates no specific event that occured on
that day. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising occured on Pesach (first or second
day, I don't recall). 27 Nissan was enacted because the year that the
Knesset enacted Yom HaSho'ah (the early 50's, also don't recall
offhand), the secular date of the uprising (some day in April - you
guessed it, I don't recall this offhand either) it happened that the
secular date corressponded to 27 Nissan.

For many years the Chief Rabbinate - justifiably, based on the
aforementioned lomdus - did not recognize Yom HaSho'ah. Their
comprehensive annual "Luach", "Shana b'Shana", completely ignored Yom
HaSho'ah until the late 60's or early 70's - when all of a sudden,
without any explanation, and without any additional elaboration - it's
existence was recognized by a line in the calendar.

Now, this is not to say that the Holocaust should not be
remembered. That would be very wrong. Even the "Right Wing", often
maligned for not commemorating the Holocaust sufficiently, dedicates
major events - such as the last Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi, and, I
believe, the upcoming one as well - to the 6,000,000. If a specific
event could be chosen as horrendous above all others - just as the
Massacre at Nemerov in 1648 stood out - and the day it occured could be
singled out as a significant permutation in time that on its own,
without a Rabbinic Decree - made the very day "A Day that Shall Live in
Infamy" - then the case might be made that even our "katlei kanyei
b'agma" (lower level Rabbinic authorities of our present generation)
could sanction such an observance, despite the lack of a Takkanas
Chazal. Then such a day might be equated with 20 Sivan.

But not an arbitrary day.

Not decreed by the Knesset on its own.

And, preferably not (I haven't discussed this point, as it is relatively
well known) in Nissan.

Yizkeraim Elokeinu l'Tova im She'ar Tzadikei Olam.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: Jeremy Schiff <schiff@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 20:15:35 +0300
Subject: Yom HaShoa 

In discussing attitudes towards Yom ha-Shoa v'ha-Gvura, Shlomo Gotick

> 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.
> 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.

In response to the branding of the two minute silence as a "goyishe
minhag", I would like to point out that the prohibition of following the
rites of non-Jews is limited to those rites which involve lack of
modesty or are without reason. The "moment of silence" - a moment to
think about, and show respect for those who lost their lives - is a
perfectly acceptable custom, and if anyone doubts its meaningfulness, I
suggest they stand near a major interchange next Yom HaShoa. It says
something that all our tefilot cannot.

I would respectfully ask Shlomo to apologize to the many "kosher Jews"
whom he has accused of following a "goyishe minhag".

With regard to the Warsaw uprising - I could understand someone writing
that all those who died in the Shoa, not just the fighters of Warsaw,
were Mekadshei Sheim Shamayim, sanctified the divine name. But to
suggest that the fighters of Warsaw acted wrongly, that what they were
doing was merely an act expressing their belief in themselves, and not
the ultimate act of self-sacrifice in the belief that the People of
Israel lives, that the God of Israel does not slumber and does not
sleep; to suggest that fighting the enemies of Israel to the last drop
of blood was not authentic Jewish heroism ....I don't think anyone could
really mean this, and I hope everyone will join me in judging Shlomo
favorably that this is indeed not what he meant.



End of Volume 26 Issue 66