The historical development of Yom Haatzmaut as a holiday among Torah-observant Jews.
According to the Ramban. part of the commandment of יישוב ארץ ישראל, to settle the Land of Israel, is to cultivate the land, not to leave the land desolate (שממה) and to consider any land other than the Land of Israel as a homeland.
Why doesn’t the Rambam count יישוב ארץ ישראל as a commandment – because he holds it’s not obligatory (but still meritorious) or because it’s overarching (all mitzvot can only be fulfilled in totality when performed in the Land of Israel)?
Part of the mitzvah of יישוב ארץ ישראל is living in the Land of Israel under Jewish sovereignty.
The Gemara in Ketubot says that we are not allowed to establish a state by military conquest. Why this doesn’t apply today according to most opinions and why the establishment of a Jewish state is part of the mitzvah to settle the land.
Celebrating Yom Haatzmaut is a form of hakarat hatov to Hashem for the fact that we have access to our homeland, for the infrastructure that the founders and government have put in place, and for those who gave their lives so we can live here.
Delivered at the OU Israel Center, May 7th, 2019, 2 Iyar 5779