Two Hallels: Relative vs. Objective Praise
Rabbi Israel Chait
What is Hallel? It is comprised of 5 matters: the Egyptian exodus, the splitting of the sea, the giving of Torah, resurrection of the dead, and the messianic era. The songs are tied to events. And when one’s song is tied to an event, it is not shira (song of praise) on the highest level. One recites shira regarding an event that he experienced. But the ultimate shira does not need an event; it is an affirmation of God and His wisdom, and the song that comes forth is regarding God’s wisdom. This refers to Hallel Hagadol:
“The soul of every living being shall bless Your Name, Lord our God; the spirit of all flesh shall glorify and exalt Your remembrance always, our King. From the world and until the world, You are the Power, and other than You we have no king.”
That is a verse from Tehillim (106:48). The midrash says, “From the world that we were not in, to the world we do exist in.” The shira in Egypt refers to the world in which we exist; the world that relates to man. But shira which is independent of ourselves, a world in which we do not exist, is a completely objective praise of God divorced from ourselves, sung solely because we recognize God’s greatness. That is the highest level of shira—the new song (shira chadasha) in the future. That’s not tied to anything related to man emotionally. The Hallel of the future is the Hallel of knowledge of God. The Hallel of the past recognizes God for certain events, such as the splitting of the sea and the Egyptian exodus. But the Hallel of the future has nothing to do with any event. It is about knowledge of God. And that is what we say:
“The soul of every living being shall bless Your Name, Lord our God; the spirit of all flesh shall glorify and exalt Your remembrance…”
“Every” and “all” refer to every human being, regardless of his experiences:
“Thank the Power of powers since His kindness is forever. To the Master of masters, since His kindness is forever. To the One who alone does wondrously great deeds, since His kindness is forever” (Hallel).
This Hallel addresses knowledge of God.