Photo Credit: Dima Vazinovich/Flash90

In addition to the eighteen days on which one recites the full Hallel, one recites Hallel on the evening of Pesach during the Seder. This Hallel has puzzled the commentators for centuries, as it appears to violate numerous classic halachic norms: it is recited at night, it is interrupted by the meal, and it is not preceded by a berachah. The Rishonim question the nature of this Hallel and why it does not conform to the classic models of Hallel.

R. Hai Gaon, as cited by the Rishonim, offers an intriguing explanation. He distinguishes between Hallel of the eighteen days on which one is obligated to read (korei) Hallel, and the Hallel of the Seder, which one is obligated to sing (shira) in response to the miraculous events of yetziat Mitzrayim.


This Hallel of “shira” is meant to be a spontaneous outburst of song expressing praise and gratitude to the Almighty for the redemption from Egypt. A berachah before such a Hallel is not only unnecessary but also inappropriate, as it undermines and negates the very essence of this Hallel.

One might suggest the Hallel described by the Gemara in Pesachim, which one recites in response to a miracle, should also be “spontaneous,” a “shira,” and not preceded by a blessing. The closer one is to an event, the less formal and more “natural” the Hallel is.

If so, then this model of Hallel, without a blessing, may actually be the more appropriate Hallel for Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Those who pray in Religious Zionist communities in Israel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut can testify to the genuine feeling of fervor and relevance with which Hallel is recited on that day.

While this discussion may be applied equally to Yom Yerushalayim, some believe that the victory of the Six-Day War more closely resembles the redemption described by the Talmud. Therefore, the Chief Rabbinate, in a ruling signed by R. Isser Yehuda Unterman, R. Yitzchak Nissim, R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin, and R. Shaul Yisraeli, ruled that Hallel should be recited with a blessing on Yom Yerushalayim.

* * * * *

One can certainly build a strong case in favor of establishing a day dedicated to praising God for the creation of the state of Israel – as well as the victory of the Six-Day War.

Over the past 66 years, rabbinic figures have grappled with the appropriate means of celebrating these days, including the recitation of the berachah of Shehecheyanu, reading a portion from the Prophets during the morning service, and reciting Hallel at night and/or during the day, and even at Minchah time.

Ultimately, Klal Yisrael, guided by its leaders, will determine the most fitting means of celebrating these days, and one should view, in retrospect, these attempts in their proper context – finding the proper means to offer thanksgiving to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.


Previous articleYoungest Holocaust Survivor from Schindler’s List Tells her Story
Next articleAbbas Continues To Demand Concessions From Israel
Rabbi David Brofsky has taught Talmud and halacha in numerous institutions in Israel, including Yeshivat Har Etzion, Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalyim, Midreshet Lindenbaum, and Midreshet Torah V'Avodah. He writes a weekly halacha article for Yeshivat Har Etzion's Virtual Beit Midrash (VBM), and is the author of “Hilkhot Tefilla,” “Hilkhot Moadim,” and a forthcoming book on hilchot aveilut.