Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Chatzi Hallel Last Days of Pesach and Empathy for Others

A good friend of mine, Dr. Nate Marcus (Yaakov Nachum ben Freidel) has a condition that most of us would consider a minor inconvenience: he has almost no feeling in his feet.  That "minor inconvenience", however, has landed him in a burn unit undergoing procedures (I love that word) for second degree burns on his feet.  He went away for Yom Tov and was preparing to take a shower.  Of course, he adjusts the water temperature by feeling with his hands.  Because it was an unfamiliar shower, he didn't realize the drain was closed, thus filling the tub with scalding water.  By the time he realized the problem, the damage was done.  Never discount the chesed of being able to feel pain.

On the last days of Pesach, we say only Chatzi Hallel (literally, "half praises"'; but we really only elide two half chapters), as codified by the Shulchan Aruch, OC 490:4.  The Be'er HaGola points us to the gemara in Arachin 10b as the source.  The gemara there says that we don't say Hallel (by which it means full Hallel) on the last days of Pesach because the korban musaf is the same for every day of Pesach.  The Mishna Brura, however, gives a completely different reason: Because on the seventh day of Pesach the Egytians drowned.  HaKadosh Baruch Hu said, "My handiwork is drowning and you want to sing praises to me!?"  We can't say full Hallel on the last day and we don't want cholo shel moed to be treated better than the seventh day (which is a full Yom Tov).

Hang on.  First of all, that statement (TB Megilla 10b) was made to the malachei hasharis, not to klal yisrael!  For whatever reason they weren't allowed to sing, why is that relevant to us?  Second, we do sing shira -- Shir al haYam -- every single day in davening; and they did, too!  Third, the medrash raba says that the malachei hashareis wanted to sing praises, but HaShem said, "My children [ie, klal yirael] sing first!"  (The medrash learns "az yashir" as the hifil (causative) form of the verb; ie, klal yisrael was made to sing.)

The devil, as they say, is in the details.  The medrash quoted by the Mishna Brura was said to the malachei hashareis while klal yisrael was still in the sea and the Egyptians were entering to drown.   The medrash raba was said after klal yisrael came up and the drowning was a done deal.  Why is that relevant to us today?  Since entering the sea, where we demonstrated complete faith in HaShem and Moshe His servant, we were made custodians of the world; it's all in our hands.  That chatzi hallel for seven days (six in Eretz Yisrael) reminds us of our privilege and responsibility.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…