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Hallel ( , "Praise") is a Jewish prayer—a verbatim recitation from Psalms 113-118, which is used for praise and thanksgiving that is recited by observant Jews on Jewish holidays.

Hallel and the Jewish holy days

Hallel consists of six Psalms (113-118), which are said as a unit, on joyous occasions. On those occasions, Hallel is usually chanted aloud as part of Shacharit (the morning prayer service) following the Shacharit's Shemoneh Esreh ("The Eighteen", the main prayer). It is also recited during the evening prayers the first night of Passover, except by Lithuanian and German Jews, and by all communities after the Grace after Meals in the Passover Seder service.

These occasions include the following: The three pilgrim festivals: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot (the "major" Jewish holy days, mentioned in the Torah) and Hanukkah and Rosh Chodesh (beginnings of the new month). Many Jewish communities, especially those that identify with religious Zionism, recite Hallel on Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Israeli Independence Day). Some also recite it on Yom Yerushalayim (commemorating the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967).

On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Hallel is not said at all, because as the Talmud states (Arachin 10b): "Is it seemly for the king to be sitting on His Throne of Judgment, with the Books of Life and Death open before Him, and for the people to sing joyful praises to Him?"

Pesach, like Sukkot, has the structure of "main holiday," followed by "Intermediate Days" (Chol ha-Moed), followed by "main holiday." Since Passover involved only a partial redemption of the Jews and the destruction of Egyptmarker, only "Half" (or Partial) Hallel is recited on all of the last six days of Pesach. Full Hallel is recited for the entirety of Sukkot.

Partial Hallel is recited on Rosh Chodesh because it was introduced at a much later time than the major holidays.

No Hallel, neither "Full" nor "Partial," is recited on Purim, despite the fact that there was a miraculous salvation, for several reasons:
  • The miracle did not occur in the Land of Israel and, for "minor" holidays, only those occurring in Israel merit the recitation of Hallel.
  • Even after the Miracle of Purim, the Jews remained subjects of the Persian Empire, whereas on Hanukkah, as a result of the victory of the Maccabees, the Jews gained their independence from the Seleucid kings.
  • Reading the Megilla is a substitute for Hallel.


Forms

Hallel is said in one of two forms: Full Hallel and Partial Hallel.

Full Hallel

Full Hallel (or הלל שלם Hallel Shalem in Hebrew Complete Hallel) consists of all six Psalms of the Hallel, in their entirety. It is a Jewish prayer recited on all seven days of Sukkot, on Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah), on Shavuot, on the first two days of Pesach (only the first day in Israel), and on the eight days of Hanukkah.

Full Hallel consists of: Psalm 113, Psalm 114, Psalm 115:1-11,12-18, Psalm 116:1-11,12-19, Psalm 117, Psalm 118.

A blessing is recited at the beginning and end of Full Hallel.

Partial Hallel

Chatzi Hallel (חצי הלל Half Hallel or Partial Hallel) ("chatzi is "half" in Hebrew) does not include parts of the "Full Hallel": verses 1-11 of Psalm 115, nor those verses from Psalm 116. It is recited on the last six days of Pesach and on Rosh Chodesh.

While Ashkenazi Jews recite a blessing at the beginning and end of Partial Hallel, some Sephardi Jews do not, particularly if the blessing they recite at the beginning of Full Hallel is ligmor et hahallel (to complete the Hallel) instead of likro et hahallel (to read the Hallel) as recited by Ashkenazi Jews.

Musical Settings

Psalms from the Hallel have been set to music many times, notably:

Psalm 113 Psalm 117 Psalm 118

American composer and conductor Michael Isaacson has composed A full Hallel for SATB Chorus entitled An American Hallel with interpolations of expressions of praise and gratitude by past and present Americans. It is to be premiered by the Carolina Master Chorale under the directorship of Tim Koch in the Fall of 2009

Composer/performer Sam Glaser has also set the Psalms on his new CD Hallel

Other Hallel sequences

The name "Hallel" is normally applied to Psalms 113-118. For greater specificity this is sometimes called the "Egyptian Hallel".

Psalm 136 is sometimes called the "Great Hallel", as it reprises the refrain of Ps. 118 "Hodu l'A. ki tov, ki le'olam hhasdo" (Thank the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever). Another Hallel sequence, forming part of the pesukei de-zimrah in the morning prayers, consists of Psalms 145 to 150.

References

See also




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