The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Ideological Yiddishkeit

Today is Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. Or was it yesterday?

The decision of the Israeli Rabbanut to make this year's Yom Hazikaron (Israel's Memorial Day) and Yom Ha'atzmaut "nidche" (pushed off) from Sunday-Monday to Monday-Tuesday has caused all sorts of confusion here in galus.

I know of at least two examples. The lower school of a local yeshiva celebrated Yom Ha'atzmaut yesterday while its high school divisions are celebrating today. I was also told that a Manhattan shul dropped tachanun and said Hallel (with a bracha) both Monday and Tuesday because of the confusion.

In the case of the school, on Sunday afternoon they held a major gathering to mark Yom Hazikaron and the transition into Yom Ha'atzmaut.

The program itself was very poignant and moving. It included words from an alumnus who is now serving in the IDF. Importantly, they also honored a number of children and families that are making Aliyah next year. Strangely, however, the band started playing before shkiah (which was during Sefirah under any calculation) and continued into the evening (which was Yom Hazikaron according to the Rabbanut and the high school).

Being an "am ha'aretz" (ignoramus) I am not qualified to comment on the idea of playing live music on Yom Ha'atzmaut despite the fact that it falls out during Sefirah. While I don't completely understand the explanations, I accept that there are gedolai Eretz Yisrael who have ruled that listening to music on YH is ok. I am also not at all qualified to comment on the concept of pushing off Yom Ha'atzmaut (although my first impression was, "what is this, President's Day?") but I certainly accept that the Rabbanut had valid reasons for so doing.

It seems to me, however, that, for the sake of convenience and ideology (making the gathering Sunday afternoon), the school played fast and loose with halachah. How can the same school celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut on two different days, especially when it implicates violating the prohibitions against listening to music during Sefirah? And, even giving them the benefit of all doubts, what's the deal with starting the music on Sunday afternoon? I just don't get it.

This is symptomatic of ideology-driven Yiddishkeit. It was so important for the school to prove that they are real Tzionim that they make tortured halachic decisions to justify their actions.

Moshe Koppel addresses the topic of ideological Yiddishkeit (in both the MO and Charedei worlds) in his wonderful essay, "Yiddishkeit Without Ideology: A Letter to my Son". It should be required reading for all Jewish leaders and educators.