Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tevet: Part One

Dec 24th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer
This Rosh Chodesh Hallel is unusual in that we recite the complete Hallel, rather than skipping the first half of Psalm 115 and that of Psalm 116, because it is also Hanukkah.

It is unusual in another sense, as we are singing with the full joy of the Festival, even though in just a few days we will be fasting to commemorate the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem just before the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem surely knew that the Babylonian army was on its way to attack.

We will be commemorating other tragedies that occurred during this Hebrew month, such as the deaths of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the translation of the Torah into Greek for Ptolmey.

First Paragraph:

We sing this Hallel with full joy despite knowing that we will soon be commemorating this series of tragedies. This Hallel surely falls into the category of the Hallel we must sing before tragedy strikes.

“From the rising of the sun to its setting, God’s Name is praised (Psalm 113:3).” Although we know that it is not the sun that is circling the Earth, it is certainly the way it appears to our eyes: As if, we are circled by the sun; it surrounds us as a siege surrounds a city. This reminds us of another verse in Psalms, “Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains, and God surrounds His people, from now and forever (125:2).”

We sing this paragraph of the Hallel with full confidence that even though armies may come and surround Jerusalem, laying siege to it, God surrounds them and will protect us.

We take the joy of the Chanukah miracle with confidence and project it into the future and rejoice that the same Divine Guidance that protected us during the Chanukah story, will protect us during the coming month.

Second Paragraph

The theme of this paragraph of the Hallel is: Just as we were redeemed from Egypt, so too, will we be redeemed from the Babylonian exile. The Exodus was not just something that happened in our great history; it became part of our very nature and reality. It is part of our being.

It was the Exodus that gave us the power to fight against the Greeks and win the Chanukah victory.

It was the Exodus that empowered us to survive the Babylonian exile with confidence that we would return to Jerusalem.

It is the Exodus that empowers us to continue to survive despite all our troubles with the confidence that He, “Who turns the rock into a pond of water, the flint into a flowing fountain,” will transform everything around us so that we may return to Him in full glory.

Third Paragraph:

The word came to Jeremiah from God when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said: “Inquire now of God for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps God will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.”

But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah, ‘This is what God, the Lord of Israel, says:

I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city.

I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.

I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague.

After that, declares God,

I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’

“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what God says:

See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.

Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague.

But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.

I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares God.

It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’

“Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of God.

This is what God says to you, House of David:

“‘Administer justice every morning;

rescue from the hand of the oppressor

the one who has been robbed,

or my wrath will break out and burn like fire

because of the evil you have done—

burn with no one to quench it.

I am against you, Jerusalem,

you who live above this valley

on the rocky plateau, declares God—

you who say,

“Who can come against us?

Who can enter our refuge?”

I will punish you as your deeds deserve,

declares God.

I will kindle a fire in your forests

that will consume everything around you.’

(Jeremiah Chapter 21)”

This is the paragraph of Hallel that describes our great trust in God because He is True and real. He is not like the idols of the other nations.

Jeremiah’s audience trusted that God would save them.

They trusted that God would never allow the Babylonians to successfully destroy Jerusalem.

They trusted that God would protect His Holy Temple.

Jeremiah is warning them that their trust is misplaced; not because of God being unable to protect them, but because they have rejected God and His multiple warnings that if they refused to change and live as good people and create a just and righteous society, that they would be destroyed by the Babylonians.

We sing this paragraph because it is Hanukkah,

because our trust in God after the Chanukah miracle is so real and tangible, because we have recommitted ourselves to live as He desires,

because we are committed to bringing His Light to the world.

We can use the trust of Hanukkah,

the confidence of Hanukkah,

the joy of Hanukkah,

the reconnection to God of Hanukkah,

to project deserved trust that God will surely protect us over the coming month.

It was this level of trust that was lacking in Jeremiah’s generation.

It is not lacking as we sing this Hallel on Hanukkah.

We have the ability to sing this Hallel to protect us from tragedy with full confidence that this time it will protect us.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.