Rabbi Johnny Solomon
On the 5th of Iyar 5708, corresponding to May 5th 1948, the dream of 2000 years was realised through the establishment of the State of Israel. As the political, communal and religious leaders stood in what is now known as Independence Hall, and immediately after David Ben-Gurion completed his reading of the Declaration of Independence, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Hacohen Maimon – who was among those who drafted and signed Israel’s declaration of Independence – stood up and recited, with great emotion, the Shehecheyanu blessing.
However, even at the time, there were some Rabbis – including those who were deeply passionate about the State of Israel – who felt that the Shehecheyanu bracha should not have been recited.
This article seeks to understand this debate, and in so doing, explain how it is rooted in a broader discussion concerning both the nature of the Shehecheyanu bracha, as well as the nature of our celebration on Yom Ha’atzmaut.