Yom Ha’atzmaut, Chanuka and Purim

Which festival is greater? Yom Ha’atzmaut, Chanuka or Purim?

Perhaps a silly question. Each holiday is unique and commemorates a different event and has a different message for us. But what really bothers me is how Yom Ha’atzmaut is given no respect by most of (if not all of) the Charedi world.

The two greatest miracles the Jewish people have witnessed over at least the last two thousand years of Jewish history, are our return to Israel and our return to Jerusalem. Jews have been praying for this era for thousands of years and it has finally arrived, but somehow many don’t see the event as miraculous at all.

To put things into perspective a bit. Purim is a great holiday. Haman tried to destroy us and we survived. There’s also the message that God works in hidden ways, which I think is an extremely important message for Jews living in the modern world. (I also think Yom Ha’atzmaut strongly gives over this message). On Chanuka, we celebrate a jar of oil lasting eight times longer than it was supposed to and a military victory against the Greeks and perhaps also a victory against Hellenism.

Great events. As Jews we will continue to celebrate these days, but when compared to the return of the Jewish people to their homeland, is there really a comparison? Purim and Chanuka happened millenia ago. The return to Israel happened in our day and age. We didn’t have Jewish sovereignty in Israel, like we have today, during the Chanuka or Purim periods. There’s no real comparison between what happened on Purim and Chanuka and the miracles we witness today with our own eyes. The miraculous wars Israel has won. ’48, ’67, ’73, etc. Who would have believed it? And not only have we survived and returned, but we’ve flourished here. The land is once again flowing with milk and honey. It’s truely marvelous to be a part of what is going on here. We have our own army to protect ourselves. It’s like we’re back in the time of Joshua or King David. For years we’ve been yearning for this.

Yet somehow, despite all this, Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim are ignored by the Charedi world and many even believe it to be a terrible thing. This is so sad and in my opinion it shows a tremendous flaw in their way of life and it is an enormous chillul Hashem – desecration of God’s name.

I am celebrating Israeli Independence day today, along with millions of other Israelis, singing Hallel at the top of our voices, making a bracha loud and clear. I only pray that one day, more of the black-hat wearing Jews that think they’re still living in Poland will join us too.

Chag Sameach L’Geula Sh’leima!

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