Monday, April 23, 2007

Every day

So tonight is Yom Ha'Atzma'ut. Apart from the usual annoyances of getting hit with squeaky plastic hammers and dealing with the smell and smoke from barbeques it is a time to reflect and think, take stock of Israel, me, and the connection between the two.
Of course in certain circles the big question is: whether to say Hallel or not, and with a bracha or not (and in other circles the question is whether to fast and wear sackcloth, but that team aren't reading this blog, nor do I have anything particularly to say to them, except 'get real!')
The truth is that a long time ago I realised that hallel is the red herring which allows people to avoid the real issues. There are halachic arguments to support both sides (or all the sides, for those who want to find creative compromises).
The real issue is how do we view Israel. By Israel I don't mean the politicians, or the civil servants, or the infrastructure providers, or even the people. But ISRAEL. What does Israel mean to me, to us, to the world?
Perhaps birthright, more than anything else, shows the importance of Israel from a Jewish perspective. There is a clear awareness and understanding by the organisers and particpants that Israel is and must be the focus of Jewish identity and awareness. Sure, those who are committed to Judaism and Jewishness can survive anywhere, but for the vast majority of unaffiliated Jews (and possibly the children of those who are surviving anywhere) Judaism means Israel, the State, the country, the political structure etc. etc.
How many hundreds of thousands of Jews throughout Israel and the rest of the world are primarily Jewish because of Israel. Even if it was just news item on the telly, or a trip to Eilat, or a video about Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
And it is not one day a year, but every day, that Israel, despite its many apparent failings on many levels, continues to act as a magnet and focus for world Jewry.
This is something that we should be saying Hallel about - not only once a year, but every day.
As King David said:
בְּכָל-יוֹם אֲבָרְכֶךָּ; וַאֲהַלְלָה שִׁמְךָ, לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד
Every day will I bless You; and I will praise Your name (through Hallel) for ever and ever. (Psalms 145; 2)

Happy Yom Ha'Atzma'ut - and please don't try to hit me with those squeaky things. Thanks.

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