Today is Yom HaZikaron and tomorrow is Yom HaAzmaut. Two more diametrically opposed days you will not find in the calendar. They are both extremely emotional days and both strengthen our pride for Israel. But Yom HaZikaron is the saddest day in the Israeli Calendar where we remember the fallen all of our brothers and sisters who died so that we can live in Israel. Whereas Yom HaAzmaut is the great party to celebrate the State of Israel and all its accomplishments. Before I get into a discussion about the halachic nature of saying Hallel on this joyous day. I'd like you to watch a video clip about Yom HaZikaron and try and appreciate the sacrifice that so many have given for our country.
As we turn to celebrating Yom HaAzmaut is there a religious way of celebrating this milestone too? Many congregations omit tahanun prayers and say Hallel - psalms of praise to God. But should we say this Hallel during the tefillah or at the end, with or without a beracha? The majority of Jews were not living in Israel at the time of the Declaration of the State of Israel and the subsequent War of Independence. Is that significant?
These questions are addressed by Haham Ovadia Yosef zt"l in great detail (Yabia Omer 6:41). Click here to see the source sheet. He notes the importance of saying Hallel to recognize Hashem's miracles in our lives. Indeed the righteous king Hizkiyahu was not made the Mashiach because he did not praise Hashem enough (Masekhet Sanhedrin 94b). But at the same time he notes that someone who says Hallel all the time is considered a blasphemer (Masekhet Shabbat 118). So great care must be taken not to devalue the saying of Hallel.
Rav Ovadia notes the times when Hallel is said even by an individual with a beracha. The Talmud (Arachin 10a) relates that there are 18 times in Israel and 21 times in the diaspora. They are the 8 days of Sukkot, the 8 days of Hanukah, 1st day of Pesah and the day of Shavuot. (The extra 3 days in the diaspora are the extra day of Pesah, Sukot and Shavuot). The talmud (Pesakhim 117a) notes that on top of these days there are days where Hallel is said when one is saved from tragedy or when one is redeemed.
The early commentators on the talmud (the rishonim) argue on the status of the gemara in Pesakhim. Most note that Hallel should only be mentioned if the majority of Jews are involved in the miracle. The Meiri holds that if it is a minority of Jews Hallel is mentioned just without a beracha.
For Sephardim there is an issue of changing the order of tefillah or adding extra things in the middle. As according to the Zohar this can be very damaging to the efficacy of our prayers. So the Chida notes that it is better to add Hallel at the end of tefillah. Therefore Hacham Ovadiah recommends Hallel to be recited at the end of tefillah without a beracha.
Hacham Ovadiah writes "and now where we have seen such great miracles done for us in the War of Independence that Hashem saved us from our enemies who were plotting our destruction, and Hashem muddled up their thinking and in his kindness we prevailed. But since this miracle did not happen to all of the Jewish people it is correct to say Hallel but without a beracha."
This will be what is done at Sephardic Bikur Holim tomorrow morning. This is in line with our current custom of omitting tahanun. We will be adding to our current custom with the addition of Hallel at the end of tefillah.
Whether you say Hallel with or without a beracha may we all celebrate this wonderful day in our calendar and may we hope for the complete redemption. For more on saying Hallel and Sephardic practice. Please see my good friend Rabbi Ilan Acoca's piece on the Sephardic Responsa Forum.
Moadim Lesimha L'geula Shelema מועדים לשמחה לגאולה שלמה
Am Yisrael Hai עם ישראל חי