Yom Ha’atzmaut: I didn’t find it funny

As I was leaving Shule today, there was a function being held. I don’t know who the caterer was, but it was under Adass supervision. The door was open, and the Mashgiach (supervisor), a rather portly chap was munching on some soup nuts. He was a jovial type and we exchanged a few pleasantries. He then asked me (in Yiddish) do you know what day the Megadef (blasphemer) in today’s Parshas Emor committed his sin? [ The blasphemer who cursed God was the son of Shlomis Bas Divri  and his father was allegedly the Egyptian killed by Moshe Rabbenu (Shmos, second Perek) and he was punished with death for cursing God.]

This Mashgiach of the food (who was a Chossid of some sort, with long Payes, and his Tzitzis Beged on the outside) bellowed that it was the 5th of Iyar (i.e. Yom Ha’atzmaut). I have to admit that I didn’t know if he was telling me the truth in respect of the date and I just wasn’t aware or I was confused with the date of the Mekoshesh Etzim, but it doesn’t matter.

In other words, on the very the day that Hashem allowed the world to grant Israel the ability to be an independent nation, was according to this fellow the same day that the Megadef sinner was put to death for cursing God.

His point was clearly that there was a connection between the two. The notion of a new State for Jews wasn’t a cause célèbre but something akin to cursing God/sinning for which the death penalty was appropriate.

As is my way, I usually find a quick retort, and told him that the correct meaning was that anyone whose distorted weltanschauung saw the establishment of the new State of Israel as a sin/curse, was deserving the death penalty. He snorted, and didn’t respond, and I went on my way.

I simply cannot comprehend how people can speak this way about Israel. I struggle with it. Either they feel that immediately after the Holocaust God decided to “test us” and offer us a State and we should have said “NO”, or they think that the Hester Panim (concealment of God’s visage) during the Holocaust continued further and we shouldn’t have fallen for the “ruse” agreed to by the United Nations, or that we should simply have accepted the view of  R’ Yoel of Satmar, that it is (God forbid) a sin to make mass Aliyah to Israel before the Redemption (as expounded in VeYoel Moshe and discredited as an halachic argument by many Talmidei Chachomim of note).

Having been at the Yom Hashoa commemoration during the week, focussing on the destruction of Hungarian Jewry, and feeling the pain of that episode once more, I find it utterly incomprehensible that soon after 6 million holy people were murdered by the Nazis, that I am meant to see the establishment of a State as  a cataclysmic curse akin to the Megadef (the episode of which has some parallels to the Mekoshesh Etzim in Parshas Shlach).

It is times like this where I am profoundly challenged to consider such people and their views as brotherly. Not only did I not find it funny, I found it grossly offensive (he mistakenly thought I was a Chabadnik, as he had stated).

I am glad that I went home to have a nice Shabbos meal with my mother (a Holocaust survivor who lived, studied and found refuge in the new State of Israel immediately after the war) and managed to control my seething anger.

The flag of the State of Israel atop the Ponovezh Yeshivah on Yom Haatzmaut