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No Hallel on Purim?!?!

By Chazzan Yaakov Tamir
March 21, 2016

It is a well known fact that we do not say Hallel on Purim, and as such, RavYosefKaro confirms this to be the case in the ShulchanAruch (Siman 693; Se’if 3).

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why not?! Let’s put it this way: If Hitler ym’’s were not to have carried out the Holocaust, and better still, we got our revenge for even his contemplation of the idea – would that not at least be a reason to say Hallel? So why, in the case of Purim, do we not say Hallel for being saved from a decree of total annihilation at the hands of Haman HaRasha and his Nazis of yesteryear?! And not only that, but in the story of Purim the Jewish People accepted upon themselves the yoke of Torah out of love (Gemara Shabbat 88a), which is much greater than their acceptance out of fear that happened at Mount Sinai. How much more so should this be a cause for Hallel!

The Gemara (Megilla 14a) also asks this question, and answers “Keri’atazoHalilah”; the reading of the Megilla is itself a “Hallel”, because the mere outlining of all the miracles that happened to us in the Megilla is considered one big praise of Hashem.

However, in my opinion this is still difficult to understand. Because if so, we should say that the Haggadah of Pesach is also one big praise of Hashem and therefore yet again – Hallel is not needed! But not only do we say full Hallel on Pesach, but Pesach is the only time of year that many Kehillot say Hallel during Arvit of the first Chag!!

The Gemara gives us a second answer: “During Pesach we can say Hallel because the Pasuk says “HalleluAvdeiHashem” (Praise! Oh servants of Hashem) and not “the servants of Pharaoh”; but on Purim we cannot say this Passuk, because after the story of Purim we were still under the hand of Achashverosh, and therefore “not” the servants of Hashem”. The Gemara is teaching us that since we still had to answer to Achashverosh even after we were saved from death, we cannot claim ourselves to be the sole servants of Hashem if we didn’t have the autonomy to fully express it (perhaps one of the reasons there is a tenth chapter in the Megilla is to illustrate this point, as the first Passuk tells us: “And the King Achashverosh imposed a tax on the land and the islands of the sea”).

So, now that we have taken a look at all of the above, everything appears to make sense, right?

Well….….one point still seems to stand out, and it’s not such a small one: we were saved from death!! I mean, come on – that should be enough for a Hallel, no??

Perhaps one of the following answers will reconcile:

Everyone knows that the story of Purim materialised according to the laws of nature. There were no plagues, no splitting of seas or any other of the super-natural phenomena of HashemYitbarach. And Hashem’s Name is not even mentioned once in the entire Megilla. There is a Hester Panim, a hiding of Hashem’s Face, from the beginning of the story until its end (which is hinted in the name “Megillat Esther” or “the revelation of that which is hidden”, and is also part of the reason why we wear fancy dress). We don’t say Hallel in order to draw attention to this fact. The Hand of Hashem was not openly revealed in this story – it was hidden behind the guise of “nature”.

Alternatively, it could be that we don’t say Hallel because of the Gemara in Shabbat (118b) that says the following: “The one who reads Hallel every day is considered an insulter and blasphemer” (the reason of which is beyond the scope of this article). Therefore, if we said Hallel on Purim, it may seem that we are allowing Hallel to be said every day. How so?

We, as humans, do not clearly see the Divine Providence that continues throughout the course of our lives, minute by minute, millisecond by millisecond. Literally. And even so, we have the task in this world to nevertheless see the Hand of Hashem in everything He puts upon us – and not to be blinded by the limitations of our physical eyes; whether for the good, or for a different type of good. Because in essence, there is no authentic “bad”, as the Gemara (Berachot 60b) says: “All that Hashem does is for the good”.

And when we realise (and internalise) this important foundation of our faith, our worries will dissipate and we will be so happy that we’ll want to say the Nusach of Hallel EVERY DAY! Therefore, if we actually said Hallel on Purim – the story of which transpired like everyday events, we would seem to be allowing it to be said on the “average” day as well for all the hidden miracles Hashem does for us, every day.

May we merit to see the awesome Hand of Hashem in everything we do. Amen!

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