By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
Most of our readers will realize, of course, that the topic is Hallel on Chol HaMoed. There is a difference between the two Chol HaMoeds. Why do we only say half Hallel on Chol HaMoed Pesach, but full Hallel on Chol HaMoed Sukkos?
It seems that there are a few answers or combinations of answers provided by the Gemorah and meforshim:
- The Gemorah itself in Arachin 9a tells us that the offerings on Pesach are all the same after the first day. However, the offerings on Sukkos are different each day.
- The Shibolei HaLeket quoted by the Bais Yosef (OC 490) quotes the Midrash that Hashem prevented the malachim from singing Hallel at the time that the Mitzrim were drowning. Hashem said, “Maasei Yaddai tovim bayam v’attem omrim shira? – My handiwork are drowning in the sea, and YOU ARE RECITING HALLEL??”
- Another Midrash explains that it is because of the pasuk in Mishlei 24:18 which says, “In the falling (death) of your enemy – do not rejoice.” [It could be that the pasuk in Mishlei and the Midrash are one answer together. Or it could be that they are two different answers.]
- The Taz (OC 490:3) and Chavos Yair (225) explain that because of the midrash, full Hallel cannot be said on the seventh day of Passover, and it would be a bizayon, a disgrace to the Yom Tov – if Chol HaMoed had a more extensive Hallel than the last day of Yom Tov itself. Therefore, we limit the hallel recited on Chol HaMoed Pesach as well.
But what is the reason for this multiplicity of answers?
RAV AHARON KOTLER’S ANSWER
Rav Aharon Kotler in Mishnas Rebbe Aharon Maamarim (Vol. II p.3) explains that there are two types of Hallel that can be recited – one for a Yom Tov and one for the experience of a Nais – a miracle. He writes that both reasons are needed to explain why the full Hallel is not said. It doesn’t require a full Hallel because of the fact that Musaf offerings do not warrant it. It would require it because of the Nais aspect – were it not for the fact that there was the suffering of the Mitzrim.
Also, what we recite on Chol HaMoed isn’t really half hallel. It is more like 81 percent (62 lines out of 77 lines in the ArtScroll Siddur). Is there a reason why its so much more than half?
CONTRADICTORY PSUKIM IN MISHLEI
The truth is that there are contradictory Psukim in Mishlei. There is (24:18): In the falling (death) of your enemy – do not rejoice.
But there is another seemingly contradictory earlier verse. It was also written by Shlomo HaMelech – “In the death of evil-doers – exhuberance! (Mishlei 11:10). How are these two verses to be understood together?
THE RALBAG’S UNDERSTANDING – TOO MUCH IS NO GOOD
The Ralbag in interpreting the pasuk just before pasuk 18 in chapter 24, writes that inappropriate rejoicing over the matter will lead to Hashem removing His Divine Anger against that enemy and placing it upon you. It is clear from this Ralbag that too much rejoicing is wrong and dangerous. But what is too much?
It is interesting to note that the Alshich in Esther (5:3) writes that this is exactly why Esther wished to make Haman rejoice at the party. She did so in order that the Divine Will be turned against the evil Haman on account of his rejoicing at the fall of Israel.
APPROPRIATE REJOICING IS OKAY
We can infer from the Ralbag that although inappropriate rejoicing is wrong – appropriate rejoicing, where one is on the correct spiritual level, is fine. This is the type of rejoicing that is indicated in Chapter eleven.
THE MAHARSHA’S AND RABBEINU YONAH’S VIEWS
But what exactly is the correct spiritual level?
The Maharsha in Megillah 28a understands the verse in Chapter 24 as referring to someone who is rejoicing because of his feeling of hate toward his enemy. Rabbeinu Yonah on Pirkei Avos 4:19 writes that that the high level in which rejoicing is permitted is if one does so in celebration of the Kavod Shamayaim – of the honor due to G-d at the fall of this evil-doer. This may be very much in line with our Ralbag.
THE ALSHICH’S VIEW
The Alshich (Tehillim 5:11) qualifies the verse in Mishlei to refer only to a personal enemy, but one whose evil is so much against G-d – the opposite feeling is in order – one should, in fact, rejoice. Thus the Chapter eleven verse refers to one who is so evil in the eyes of G-d. The Alshich does not distinguish between our own levels, but rather the type of enemy that the pasuk refers to.
THE OTHER VIEW – THE MESHECH CHOCHMA AND GERRER REBBE
The Meshech Chochma (Shmos 12:16) writes that upright individuals do not rejoice at the death of others as do, say, some of the other nations. This seems to be across the board. Thus, on Passover, we celebrate the freedom of the Jewish people and not the fact that G-d punished the Egyptians. Similarly, on Chanukah, we celebrate the miracle of the oil lasting and not the fall of the Syrian Greeks. It would seem that the Meshech Chochma is not in agreement with the aforementioned Alshich in Tehillim.
The Gerrer Rebbe on Sukkos 5658 also expressed this thought. He explained that even though Yom Tov’s must all have Simcha, the word is used only regarding Sukkos and not Pesach. Why? The death of the Egyptians that occurred on Pesach caused the use of the word “Simcha” in regard to Pesach as not appropriate.
The Yalkut Shimoni mentioned earlier (Mishlei 960) also points out that we do not recite a full Hallel on Pesach except for the first day because of the notion of not overly rejoicing over the deaths of enemies. Also, the Midrash points out, that Noah refrained from marital intimacy during the time that the evildoers in the world were being destroyed on account of the notion of the verse in chapter 24. Seemingly, this Midrash is not in accordance with the distinctions made by the Alshich and the Ralbag.
PERHAPS NOT ALL OF KLAL YISROEL FOLLOWED THIS
It may also be suggested that the notion was perhaps not necessarily universally adhered to by all of Klal Yisroel. How so? In Pirkei Avos (4:19) Shmuel HaKatan says almost the exact same thing as Shlomo haMelech did in Mishlei. The Rambam and the Bartenura point this out but remark that Shmuel actually utilized and taught this approach. The fact that the Mishna singles Shmuel HaKatan out for this indicates that it may not necessarily have been kept so universally. In fact, it could be that King David himself, the father of King Shlomo may have erred in his reciting of joyful song at the fall of Kush Ben Yemini, as pointed out in Midrash Tehillim (7).
The conclusion? It seems that the words of Rebbeinu Yonah on Pirkei Avos that if one rejoices at the Kavod Shamayim – the honor that finally justice has been accomplished with the knowledge that the honor of Heaven has been further enhanced and uplifted with this man’s death – then one may rejoice, but nonetheless, it should still be tempered.
So, we do recite Hallel on Pesach, but not a full one. One should make sure that the feeling not come from an improper emotion. One may also take pride in the fact that Kavod Shamayim – the honor of Heaven was uplifted.