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The great Independence Day debate: Letter 5

by Shmuel Rosner

June 4, 2012 | 11:23 am

Fireworks over Jerusalem mark Israel's Independence Day, April 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

This the fifth letter in a debate on changing the date of Independence Day in Israel.  Readers who are not yet familiar with the debate can read more about it here.

The fifth letter is by Rabbi Yehuda Brandes, head of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and Leadership, and lecturer at the Herzog College. 

If you will permit me to interject in the basic discussion, here is a comment from the real world:

In the next ten years the picture looks like this:

5773 – Monday, 5774 – Monday,
5775 – Friday, 5776 – Friday,
5777 – Monday, 5778 – Friday,
5779 – Friday,

5780 – Wednesday

,
5781- Shabbat, 5782 – Friday,

5783 – Wednesday

[the numbers refer to the coming years by the Hebrew calendar, the days to when Independence Day falls in each respective year - S.R.].

In other words, the argument over the current situation and the new proposal is really over two Independence Days in the next decade, and the first will fall in another two Knesset terms (if there are in fact plenums, a rare event in and of itself in our location).

And if we are talking about fundamentals, it is necessary to take into account that the fifth of Iyyar can fall only on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Shabbat. In other words, on three out of four occasions the date will be moved from its original place. (unless we agree to Rabbi Benayahu’s proposal to hold Independence Day on a Monday as well, and then it will only be moved 50% of the time)

Those who are planning a public and political campaign should take this data into consideration.

Battles such as these should be managed with thought. And should leave, as with wartime sieges, another option open. 

It’s vital that we don’t find ourselves celebrating Independence Day as we do Jerusalem Day – a celebration of religious Zionists exclusively [Jerusalem Day, for many years now, is a celebration marked mostly in Zionist-religious circles - S.R.]. But on the other hand, that won’t happen so quickly anyway. 

It is important to remember that the law which was changed in 5772 can be changed again another few times between now and 5780.  We should all hope that by then we will have to celebrate the coming of the Messiah, and may the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our lifetime, or at least there will be a majority of religious Zionists in the Knesset.

And with reference to the fifth of Iyyar which falls on a Monday – the heart of the matter itself will still need clarification, that the Chief Rabbinate did indeed ask for the change [the Chief Rabbinate oppose celebrating Independence Day on Monday, because this will require marking Memorial Day Saturday evening and will potentially lead to the desecration of Shabbat during preparation], and we find again that we ourselves are making a mockery should the rabbis themselves present a vague stance in this dispute.

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