[Originally posted in 2009 here. I repost it now because the original received too few comments, and because I love it]
Yeshivat Hesder Ramat Gan published “Go’el Yisrael גואל ישראל,” several years ago. The book collects considerable quality material on Yom ha’Atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim, from Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, his son Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, their students, and other giants of Religious Zionism. It also offers a complete order of prayer for Yom haAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim.
On page 300-301, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook is quoted regarding the Chief Rabbinate’s recommendation of saying Hallel without a berachah on Yom ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day:
On the Erev Shabbat preceding Yom ha’Atzmaut, a certain important man came to me and asked why our rabbis do not permit us to recite a berachah upon Hallel for Yom ha’Atzmaut. I replied to him that the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate is balanced and correct.
The enactments of the Chief Rabbinate apply to the entire community. Since, to our pain and shame, a great portion of our community does not believe in the great act of Gd which is revealed to us in the establishment of the government of Israel, and since, due to its lack of faith, it lacks joy, it is not possible to obligate them to recite Hallel with a berachah. It is like someone who sees a friend and is glad to see him, who is obligated to recite a berachah; if he is joyous, he recites a beracah. If he is not joyous, he does not recite a berachah.
Rav Maimon, whose entire being was dedicated to building Gd’s nation and portion, was filled with the joy of faith, and so he established in his synagogue to recite Hallel with a berachah. The same is true in other, similar places – the IDF and religious kibbutzim. However, the Chief, all-inclusive Rabbinate cannot enact a berachah as an all-inclusive ruling for the entire community, when the community is not ready for it.
In our central Yeshiva we had followed the ruling of the Rabbinate, for we are not a kloiz of a specific sect. We are associated with the general Jewish population centered in Yerushalayim, and since that population includes, for now, to our pain and our embarrassment, obstacles to complete faith and joy, and therefore to the obligation to recite a berachah, it is appropriate that we also act according to the ruling of the Rabbinate for the general population.
I find this explanation fascinating for many reasons, including the following:
• I’m not sure which group he means, when he speaks of those who don’t believe in the great act of Gd – does he mean those who do not believe in Divine intervention? Or those who do not believe that the State is an act of Gd?
• I wonder how many people who do not believe in Divine intervention, or who do not believe that the State is an act of Gd, daven in Mercaz haRav – and on Yom ha’Atzmaut in particular?
• I believe that his insistence on keeping the yeshiva – the bastion of his father’s Torah! – as an institution open to all, and serving all, and avoiding divisive practices even on matters we hold most dear, should be a model for all of us. This is true leadership.