When the Eidah Charedis Praised God for the Liberation of Israel
A rather disturbing incident occurred yesterday. One of my sons, who was wearing a white shirt in honor of the day, was playing soccer next to our flag-adorned car, while my youngest daughter was waving a flag from the window. My son was accosted by some older charedi boys who demanded to know what there was to celebrate. My son, who is only nine, came into the house to ask his mother for help, and the boys followed him to the door to belligerently ask the same question of my wife! My wife attempted to explain to them that Yom HaZikaron expresses our gratitude to the soldiers who gave their lives to defend us, and Yom Ha-Atzmaut expresses our gratitude to Hashem for giving us our country, for enabling us to build the very streets that they are walking on. It's a matter of basic hakaras hatov, she explained.
The boys were unfazed.
We wouldn't need soldiers, they explained to her, if everyone was learning Torah. We shouldn't be expressing any gratitude for a country run by secularists. And the streets that we are walking on were built by Moshe Abutbul.
There was a time when I used to feel pretty much the same way myself. On the other hand, there was an earlier time when even the Eidah Charedis felt pretty much as I do today.
The Eidah Charedis of Yerushalayim used to be known as Vaad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi. In 1918, to mark the first anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Turks by the British, they issued the proclamation that you can see in this picture. They called on all the shuls and yeshivos "to thank Hashem for the redemption, and the salvation," and to say the prayer of Hanosen teshuah on behalf of "George the Fifth, yarum hodo (may his glory be increased)" and a misheberach for General Allenby.
It's a matter of basic hakaras hatov.
(See too the excellent discussion of Yom Ha-Atzma'ut by Rav Eliezer Melamed at Torah Musings.)