Gaucher June 2022 Top

Hallel With our Without a Bracha?

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Apr 12, 2021
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Years ago , I had developed a rather unique hobby. I would write letters to ballplayers, famous people and politicians. After a few years I had accumulated quite a number of responses and autographed photos.  I did not limit my missives to athletes and headline makers. About twenty-five years ago , I sat with great trepidation and penned a letter in Hebrew , to Harav Ovadia Yossef,z’tl, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. While a student years ago at YC/RIETS, I had heard him address the student body and became absolutely enthralled with his incredible Torah knowledge and his use of pesukim to drive his point home.

I am also a student of history, my focus being on the World War Two Era, 1933-1945, perhaps the most critical twelve  year period in the last few centuries. The quotation I posed to the Rishon L’Tzion was in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two.

Based on Siman 41 in volume 6 of his  Yabeeah Omer, Rav Yossef ponders whether Hallel with a bracha should be recited on Israel Independence Day , the fifth of Iyar.

Rav Yossef notes that Hallel with a bracha was instituted only if the Jewish Nation was in dire straits and  then saved , but if only a portion of the nation was affected, no bracha is to be recited on the Hallel being recited to thank God for the salvation.

The question is then raised , why say Hallel with a bracha on Chanukah? The yeshua was only  for those Jews living in Eretz Yisrael .The answer given is that Chanukah  involved the re-dedication of the Beis Hamikdash hence it is viewed as a national event. Another observation made by the Rishon L’Tzion, Rav Yossef,z’tl, is that Hallel with a bracha is said only after the full completion of the victorious event- not before.

The query I put to Rav Yossef was the following: World War Two saw the Nazi hordes advancing in North Africa even into Egypt .In October 1942 there was little to stop Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and his Panzer tanks from breaking through , into Palestine and wreaking havoc, death and destruction. A thin line of British troops under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery managed to defeat the Germans and halt the Nazi advance at the Battle of El Alamein. I asked if the Rav Roshi did not think of  that event  as being worthy of Hallel with a bracha. Palestine , later to become our State of Israel had been saved.

The answer I received was remarkable for its clarity and brevity. The Hebrew response translated into English is,” Had such a takana been made immediately after the victory at El Alamein, perhaps there would be a valid reason to say Hallel with a bracha .However, we are engaged in a battle still being raged against Jews by their enemies and Hallel with a bracha is recited only after the threat to our people is completely  removed.

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    Learning on the Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah site is sponsored today by the Goldberg and Mernick families to mark the yahrzeit of Samuel M. Goldberg, R’ Shmuel Meir ben R’ Eliyahu HaCohen z”l and by Mark and Karen Benson to mark the yahrtzeit of Betzalel Mordechi ben David Yizchak HaLevi