Though the Hebrew calendar date of Israel Independence Day was decided upon by the Israeli government a year after the establishment of the State, their choice of day – the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar – received a divine stamp of approval in that this very day filled the missing link in a Rabbinic puzzle of centuries.
The story begins in the 14th century, when Rabbi Yaakov Ben Asher, better known as the "Baal HaTurim," revealed a code for determining what day of the week various Jewish holidays would fall upon, based on the days of Pesach (Passover).
In Siman 428 (OH) of his classic work "Arbaa HaTurim," he writes that if you take the first 6 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (ascending) and line them up with the last 6 letters of the alphabet (descending – in essence this is use of the "atbash" juxtaposition of letters as appears below in the chart), an amazing parallel between the days of Pesach and 6 Jewish holidays emerges:
|Days of Pesach||א||ב||ג||ד||ה||ו||ז|
|Corresponding holiday||ת |
The Baal HaTurim writes that whatever day of the week the first day of Pesach falls on, so too Tisha B'av will fall on the same day of the week. For example, this year, 5771 (2011), the first day of Pesach came out on a Tuesday. Look ahead in your Hebrew calendar and you will see that Tisha B'av will also fall on a Tuesday this year.
Whatever day the second day of Pesach falls on, so, too, the holiday of Shavuot will fall on the same day of the week.
As per the chart of the Baal HaTurim, we see that:
3rd day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as Rosh HaShana
4th day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as Kriat HaTorah (which is Simchat Torah)
5th day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as Tzom (Yom) Kippur
6th day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as the previous Purim
The above code is beautiful and works like a charm every single year on the Jewish calendar, but it is missing a holiday which is parallel to the last (7th) day of Pesach. The Baal HaTurim couldn't find a Jewish holiday that starts with the Hebrew letter ayin and which always falls on the same day of the week as the last day of Pesach.
This same code appears in the book "Avudraham" by Rabbi David Avudraham who lived in the same period as the Baal HaTurim. He too came up empty handed and left the last day of Pesach blank with no corresponding Jewish holiday to fit into the chart.
For centuries, this puzzle – the lack of a holiday to parallel the last day of Pesach – remained unsolved.
In 1949, the government of the fledgling State of Israel with the approval of the Chief Rabbis established the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar as Independence Day of the modern Jewish State. Call it what you may - a freak coincidence or the Divine Hand of Hashem – but the Hebrew name "Atzmaut" Independence Day starts with the Hebrew letter ayin and always falls on the same day of the week as does the 7th day of Pesach. The missing link of the code formulated by the great Gedolei Yisrael and passed down for generations was completed with the establishment of the modern State of Israel and the affixing of Iyar 5 as Independence Day. [Quoted in the book Goel Yisrael in the name of Rafael Feltner]
In 1948, we achieved an independent state, but the struggle for true independence continues to this day. The Western imperialist powers have tried for the last 38 years to deprive the Jewish people of portions of our ancient homeland. At the urging of the United States State Department, the European Union, and the United Nations, the superpowers of the world have persisted in their attempts to suppress the inalienable rights of the Jewish People to live with freedom and dignity on the entirety of our ancient and holy soil.
But just as our people resisted Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, we, the indigenous Jewish natives of this land, will continue the struggle for Jewish freedom in our land with all of our faculties and powers.
I join my brothers here in Israel as we call upon you – young and old Jews– to resist the Western oppression. Answer the cry for justice for our people by taking action: visit Israel, study in Israel, purchase apartments here, and move to Israel to guarantee freedom and dignity for our people in our ancient and historic homeland.
May we all join in celebrating this divine Jewish holiday and express our thanks to the G-d of Israel for the miracles He performed for us in our time with the establishment of the State of Israel.
To understand how the establishment of the Jewish State is the fulfillment of one of the 613 positive Torah-ordained commandments, and to understand a Kabbalistic twist from the writings of the Arizal on the above code, contact me below and invite me to speak to your group or synagogue.
Happy Israel Independence Day,
Director of Development
Bet El Institutions
Bet El, Israel