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Q&A: When to Observe Yom Ha’atzma’ut

May 6, 2015

Question: Do you subscribe to the notion of dividing up the various observances related to Yom Haat’zmaut among separate days of Iyar? I heard that in Merkaz Harav, they only say Hallel on Hei Iyar, and not on the other days that Yom Haatzmaut falls out.

Answer: Some opinions say this, others that. I have also heard that Rabbi Schachter has some sort of opinion on the matter, and that many say that no matter when Independence Day is observed, Tahanun is never said on the fifth of Iyar. Rabbi Bar Hayim has a very logical opinion that seems to me to make the most sense. In practice, however, I think that we should all follow the opinion of Rabbi Gedaliah Dov Schwartz, ABD of Chicago, who ruled that we should all stick to one day no matter what, so that all of Klal Yisrael observes the holidays on the same days. He originally did not feel this way, but was persuaded by the Chief Rabbinate. This says much to the importance of not following dissenting opinions in practice when the ruling actually is something that affects all of Jewry at once. Perhaps Rabbi Bar Hayim could convince everyone to go along with his position, but until then, this issue, unlike most other halachic issues, has no room for actual differing practices. This was the main point of Rabban Gamliel’s insistence that Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah follow Rabban Gamliel’s ruling as to which day Tishrei started: the Jews must all celebrate the holidays together and follow but one authority on the matter. There used to be Sanhedrins for every tribe, which allowed for disparity in p’saq, but the central Sanhedrin had to make one particular ruling: when to start each month, thus controlling the timing of the holidays. If the Sanhedrin so chose, it could also make other binding rulings, but it did not have to. Interestingly enough, Rabbi Bar Hayim does not subscribe to my idea. For some years now he has made it known that it is inappropriate for Jerusalemites at least to observe a second day of Rosh Hashana. He may be right, and I even found more proof to his position, but I myself have never and will never advocate for such a view in practice because I see greater value in Rabbi Schwartz’s view. What this does mean though, is that the system needs to be changed for the ready adaptation of logical and necessary halachic policies.

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From → halacha, logic

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