Avi Baumol

My heart is broken, and so is my ‘hallel’

My prayers are with Leo Dee and his entire family for the recovery of Lucy and I share in their pain of the loss of Maia and Rina.

Today we recited half-hallel, a broken hallel. Hallel usually connotes absolute joy and praise in God and it is designated for festivals, for singing and dancing in gratitude. Yet, on Pesach we find that a ‘full’, ‘unbroken’ Hallel is designated only for the first day; the remaining days we recite hallel, but muted, truncated, incomplete.

The reason I believe relates to the fact that despite the Exodus being a redemption of God, a national liberation, an experience of freedom and joy, Chazal nevertheless expressed that perhaps it was not without casualties. Even though the Torah presents the Exodus as free of casualty, and completely focused on Egyptian punishment, Chazal couldn’t help wonder if there was still loss on the side of the Israelites. Not enough to color the victory, but even if there was one… They demanded that after one day of absolute hallel is experienced, the rest must be broken…

Zionism, the resurgence of the nation of Israel on its homeland, the revival of Jewish life and the ingathering of exiles in the last generations is a miracle of biblical proportions—it is indeed patterned after the great redemption of Egypt—it requires us to say Hallel every single day!

And yet, on some days that Hallel is broken, half, mixed with tears, filled with the sadness and such pain that it is hard to still sing.

That is what I feel today. Two angels were murdered by cowards, because they chose to participate in the miracle of building up Am Yisrael. A family of such supernal character, representing everything that is good about immigrants to Israel, with smiles which radiate all who encounter them—such a family is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My hallel is broken; my joy is muted; my festive holiday is limping along, and I muster all my energy to try and find ‘simchat Yomtov’ as is required for a Jew to submit their personal sadness for the ‘klal’ for the good of the nation.

I try but tonight I fail.

About the Author
Rabbi Avi Baumol is serving the Jewish community of Krakow as it undergoes a revitalization as part of a resurgence of Jewish awareness in Poland. He graduated Yeshiva University and Bernard Revel Graduate School with an MA in Medieval JH. He is a musmach of RIETS and studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut. He served as a rabbi in Vancouver British Columbia for five years. Rabbi Baumol is the author of "The Poetry of Prayer" Gefen Publishing, 2010, and author of "Komentarz to Tory" (Polish), a Modern Orthodox Commentary on the Torah. He also co-authored a book on Torah with his daughter, Techelet called 'Torat Bitecha'. As well, he is the Editor of the book of Psalms for The Israel Bible-- In summer 2019 Rabbi Baumol published "In My Grandfather's Footsteps: A Rabbi's Notes from the Frontlines of Poland's Jewish Revival".
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