I can't exactly say why, but every years we're surprised anew at how soon Yom Ha'Atzma'ut is after Passover. Of course, a quick look at the calendar shows how close they really are, just over two weeks from the end of Passover until Independence Day.
|Passover ends the 21st of Nissan|
|As you can see, Israeli Independence Day is exactly two weeks later.|
Considering how much work most of us do at home to prepare for Passover, the Israeli custom of hiking and outdoor cooking makes sense. It's needed to escape the confines of our homes. For many families, Passover cooking is women's work, while outdoor cooking is the responsibility of the men.
But my reasons for this post aren't the culinary nor feminist.
The core of Judaism is the Biblical narrative, and the Holiday of Passover celebrates our against all odds escape from Pharaoh's rule in Egypt. The Jewish People, although they had entered Egypt as an independent, proud and affluent clan found themselves over a century later as poverty stricken dependent slaves to the Egyptian Pharaoh. Although we had multiplied greatly in numbers, the slave-ghetto mentality dominated every aspect of our lives.
That's the reason why it took a Moses, who had been raised in Pharaoh's palace, as the adopted son of Bitya, daughter of Pharaoh, to lead the escape of the Jewish People. There's an irony in the linguistic pun of Bitya's name. In Hebrew it means "daughter of G-d." The Egyptians considered their Pharaohs to have been gods, but from the actions of Bitya, it's clear that her "god" wasn't her father. She was the tool of G-d Almighty, the Jewish G-d.
In G-d's original plan, the Jewish People was to have entered the HolyLand, the Land He was to show us, immediately after the Exodus from Egypt. Genesis Chapter 12 בְּרֵאשִׁית
The Jewish People began with Abraham (Abram) who had been instructed by G-d to leave his home and family and go to a place G-d would show him. That was the plan.
Of course, from one man, Abraham, until we reached that critical mass of numbers to be a people took quite a while. And being a People is complicated, so we needed to experience quite a few, sometimes unpleasant, things. In G-d's original plan, we were supposed to go straight from Egyptian slavery to freedom and independence, but...
Yes, the big "but..."
But G-d had also given us Free Will, and that can get us into trouble. Free Will means that we have the ability to sin, make mistakes and mistakes we did make. That's why we had to wander in במדבר bamidbar, the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised Land.
Since we're supposed to connect the Exodus from Egypt with the Modern State of Israel, G-d had the date of our Declaration of Independence happen soon after the Passover Holiday. A Jewish State is a great G-d given miracle, even with all its imperfections. As I wrote just before, we do have Free Will and that can be a recipe for disaster.
We just have to keep on working hard and make our State of Israel better. It's up to us, not G-d.