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Hallel the Night of Yom Ha’atzma’ut

April 19, 2015

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You asked about Hallel on Israeli Independence Day, and I directed you to the opinions of Rabbi Nachum Rabinovich and Rabbi David Bar Hayim. I believe that their opinions best fit the sources; opinions that either do not prescribe the recitation of Hallel on Israeli Independence Day or Jerusalem Day or that prescribe the mere recitation of half Hallel (with or without a blessing) have, despite their many proponents, been soundly refuted. For my intents and purposes, I will only address the issue of the recitation of the Hallel on those days as part of the evening service in addition to the assumed recitation of Hallel during the daytime of the holiday.

As I wrote last month, the sages only knew of one night of the year on which there was a specific obligation to recite Hallel: the night of the Seder, as part of the consumption of the qorban pesah. We also mentioned the practice, still extant, of some to discharge that obligation while still in the synagogue, and we gave reasons for that practice. At first glance, the nights of Yom Ha’atzma’ut and Jerusalem Day should be like any other night preceding a day on which we have an obligation to recite Hallel. On Sukkoth and Hanukka, we are all obligated to recite Hallel by day each and every day, but there is no such requirement at night. The classic Hallel is typically classified as one of those types of time-bound commandments, that, like circumcision and the taking of the lulav, needs to be done while the sun is shining. Rabbi Bar Hayim himself has argued against the recitation of Hallel the nights of Independence Day and Jerusalem Day for this very reason. However, I believe that there may be a very good reason for reciting Hallel the night of those holidays.

Earlier we wrote about what the sages of old ordained as appropriate modes of praise and Thanks to God on both Purim and Hanukka. When Purim was established, the traditional Hallel was inappropriate because “we were still slaves to Ahasuerus” and therefore a different piece of scripture needed to be composed to serve as a song of praise. It was the scroll of Esther. Yet, the sages also decreed that Esther be read twice, once at night, with the full slew of blessings before and after, and once by day, with the same blessings. When Hanukka was first established, the sages ideally should have composed a new scriptural work as  a form of praise specifically for the Hanukka miracle, but because they lacked someone prophetically inspired, they resorted to the traditional Hallel from the Psalms, and unlike on Purim, it was appropriate because the Jews had achieved national freedom. Note how although Hallel was once again ordained to be recited by day on Hanukka, with a blessing, the sages did choose a different ritual to mark the nights of Hanukka: the lighting of the Hanukka lamps, complete with blessings, in order, as the declaration following the lighting says, “to thank and praise Your great name, for Your miracles, wonders, and salvation.”

So too with regards to Independence Day. The complete Hallel with a blessing certainly is fitting to mark the day, and it is also appropriate to have some sort of recognition of the miracle at night, just like we have on Purim and Hanukka, but, unfortunately we have not settled on some ritual that is uniquely suited to the event. Therefore, we use the pre-existing paradigm of compete Hallel for that purpose.

The upshot of this is that the recitation of the nightly Hallel on Independence Day should be accompanied with three blessings, just like the Hanukka candle lighting and Purim M’gilla reading:

  1. … Who hast sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to recite the Halllel.
  2. … Who hast wrought miracles for our ancestors during those days at this time of the year.
  3. … Who hast allowed us to live, and sustained us, and brought us to this season.    

This is the conclusion reached by a number of authorities, but many have just accepted it as a Rabbinical enactment.

I hope that you are able to find the right minyan for ma’ariv this coming Wednesday night.

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From → halacha

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