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Study and Theory/
Independence Day

Yom Tov Levinsky

The Onset of the First Independence Day

When does the State holiday begin? From the sunset of the fourth day of Iyar, as is customary on all Jewish festivals and holidays, except for on public fast days. And we may recall the words of the prophet: "This song shall be onto you as the night of the sanctification of the holiday" (Isaiah 30:29) The proclamation of the state took place on the eve of the Sabbath, the 5th of Iyar, 5708 - a few hours before the date and time the British had set as the time for their departure from the country. The emissaries of the nation actually ushered in the holiday following the precept of "to do" and then "to hear" in order to receive the first Shabbat in the independent State of Israel. Therefore, this holiday should be given the character of the eve of the Shabbat: Wednesday shall be dedicated to the preparations for the holiday, as done on weekly Fridays. Towards evening, the people are to leave their workplaces, traffic is to be stopped, shops and amusement parks are to be closed, as the country's Shabbat descends onto the world. In each house candles are to be lit in Shabbat candlesticks, in memory of that initial Friday evening, and the candles are to be placed in doorways and on window sills – to expose the miracles. At the same time, crowds are to gather in synagogues and public places to hear the recital of the Megillah, the Declaration of Independence. After reading the Megillah - a Shabbat and holiday meal is to be held in circles of families and friends at which meat and fish and delicacies are to be served.

School shall be held on the day before the holiday eve just as it is done on every Friday and every day preceding a holiday. A holiday celebration is conducted as proposed by teachers and educators. Several days before the holiday schools should dedicate classes discussing our struggle leading to the establishment of the state; our deliberations and victories. They are to study appropriate literary texts; the Declaration of Independence should be learned by heart. On the holiday of the State no school classes nor assemblies are to be held. And it is possible that our children and their educators devise appropriate games, such as the top - played with on Hanukah, the gragger – on Purim, the bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer and flags on Simchat Torah.


Among the customs of the synagogue the holiday of the State must be sanctioned. It should be marked by tradition and its customs should be entered in all prayer books. Tachanun shall not be recited. "Hallel" shall be recited, "Yaaleh V'Yavo" shall be recited and a suitable portion of the Torah shall be read in accordance with the event, (Numbers, chapter 10, for example, or a chapter discussing the obligation of a citizen in his land, such as all or parts of Leviticus 25). And the Haftara shall be read from the Prophets Nachum 2: 1-3 or - a portion with similar contents. On the eve of the holiday, prior to the meal, Kiddush should be made on wine and the nation of Israel must exalt and elaborate festivity in honor of this auspicious day. Our sages have likened a day of rain to that of the day of ingathering of all of Israel, as the day in which heavens and earth were created, as the day of the giving of the Torah, or even greater than that day, how much more so - the day of the giving of the state.


And may inspirational people make additions to the chapter of the state's holiday: By recitals and hymns, with ornaments and decorations in gateways and in neighborhoods, by marching bands and torch processions, by symbols and flags – that may be perpetuated for days and years to come. Since the nature of a holiday is only established in the course of time.  Yet the holiday shall be called from its inception: A folk day with holy convocation, a reminder of our exodus from bondage to redemption.  

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