On Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day), the Jewish people were delivered from bondage to freedom – from subjugation to the kingdoms of the world, to political independence. This also brought about an actual resurrection from death to life. Until then, we were unable to defend ourselves against the enemies who pursued us. From that day on, thanks to God’s kindness, we began to defend ourselves and win our battles. True, all the enemies who rise up to destroy us have yet to be destroyed, but after the establishment of the State of Israel, we formed an army, thank God, and we have the strength to fight back and triumph. And even though more than 20,000 holy souls have been killed in wars and terror attacks since the State came into being over sixty years ago, just a few years beforehand, during the horrific Holocaust, more than six million holy Jews were killed in the span of five years – more than three hundred times the amount. This is the difference between having the ability to fight back and being a helpless victim.
That day brought about a salvation for Diaspora Jews, as well. They now have a country that is always willing to absorb them, and even works on their behalf in the international arena. Before the State was established, almost no one paid attention to our complaints against the murderous, anti-Semitic persecutions that raged in many countries. After Israel gained independence, however, even the most evil regimes were forced to take into consideration Israel’s possible reprisals on behalf of the Jews living in their midst. Even Communist Russia had to relent and allow the Jews to leave from behind the Iron Curtain, something that was unfathomable before the State was born.
The establishment of the State also brought spiritual salvation to the Jews. Previous to this, the Jewish nation underwent a profound spiritual crisis since the dawn of the modern era. The opportunity to integrate into the civil and national frameworks of the developed nations, which the Jews were granted, generated a strong desire to assimilate. This is not the place to elaborate on the reasons for this crisis; our master, Rav Kook, zt”l, deals with the issue at length, discussing its various facets. In brief, a dangerous process of assimilation and the abandonment of Judaism developed in all countries that embraced modernization. This process threatened the very existence of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Assimilation began approximately two hundred years ago in Western Europe, spreading gradually to Eastern Europe and the capitals of the more developed Arab countries. Today, most young people in the Jewish community of America marry out of the faith, and even those who marry Jews beget very few offspring. Under these circumstances, Diaspora Jewry is fading away. Only in the State of Israel is the Jewish population growing; and intermarriage is relatively rare. Moreover, the percentage of Jews connected to Torah and mitzvot in Israel is higher than that of any other Jewish community in the world. This spiritual salvation came about in the merit of the establishment of Medinat Yisrael, which enabled the ingathering of the exiles and diminished the temptations of assimilation.
Thus, Yom HaAtzmaut is invested with three sanctities: the mitzvah of settling the Land, the beginning of redemption which created a Kiddush Hashem in the eyes of the nations, and the various salvations that the Jewish people merited with the rebirth of sovereign nationhood in our Land.