The joke running around Israel (not an original one, but passing it along because it’s clever) is that this year “Yom” Ha’Atzmaut has become “Home” Ha’Atzmaut. No outdoor celebrations, no fireworks, no picnics, barbeques or kids spraying adults with foam and string. Yes, you read that right. Here in Israel, it has become a tradition (not sure when the custom started – probably around “kitniyot” time…) that kids spend about 100 shekel buying cans of foam and string. They then spray that nasty stuff on innocent people on the night of Yom Ha’Atzmaut. What fun!! This year, however, since there are no concerts and outdoor parties, the traditional foam and string spray (bet you can’t say that 10 times fast…) will likely be postponed. All kidding aside, that will probably result in a $50 million loss in revenue for the State of Israel.
The big question, however, is not what we cannot do on this special day but, rather, what can we do? How can we commemorate and celebrate this incredibly awesome day? Let me share a secret with you; I actually hate the outdoor stuff on Yom Ha’Atzmaut. I am not a hiking guy nor a “Let’s-grill-our-meat-in-the-park” guy. I do not enjoy those loud outdoor concerts and the last kid that sprayed me with foam almost ended up in the hospital. Don’t get me wrong; I love Am Yisrael and love being with my brothers and sisters… just not 450,000 of them at the same time… in the same place!
So, for me, this “Home” Ha’Atzmaut is actually perfect. I will sit in my home and reflect on the miracles that Hashem performed in order for this day to happen. I will think about the hard labor of the early settlers and pioneers who drained swamps and built roads. I will remember the underground fighters of the Nili, Etzel and Lechi and especially the ones who sang Ha’Tikva as they walked to the gallows. I will praise Hashem for the IDF and will memorialize those soldiers who paid the ultimate price in defending the land. I will bless every Jew who left a foreign country – where they might have been very comfortable and successful – in order to be part of Jewish history. I will praise the farmers, construction workers and building engineers who work night and day at building the physical side of Eretz Yisrael and – with the same enthusiasm and energy – I will praise the Rebbeim, teachers and social workers who help build the spiritual side of our country. I will thank our Father in Heaven for the Jewish doctors and nurses who could make 10x their salary in Florida, yet choose to care for the sick in Petach Tikva. I will sing Hallel – with a bracha! – so that Hashem knows how much I love him for making the dream of 2,000 years become a reality in my own day… even though we don’t deserve it.
In short, there will be a lot to do on the 5th of Iyar (Wednesday, April 29th) and I will make the most of every moment. Most importantly of all, I will learn as much Torah as I can on that day because there’s no greater gift to our King than for Him to see His nation, studying His Torah in His land.
Dearest friends, please take this day seriously and use it to acknowledge the greatest gift that Hashem gave our nation since the destruction of the 2nd Bet Ha’Mikdash. Thank Hashem and thank His holy messengers for making Yom Ha’Atzmaut… excuse me; Home Ha’Atzmaut, possible.
Am Yisrael Chai!