Hallel on the Seder Night
Adina Passy and Tiferet Nickerson
Why is this hallel different than all other hallels? Firstly, we must determine from where do we get the חיוב to say Hallel. In פסחים קטז. The Mishna quotes from the Hagaddah and it says, “לפיכך אנחנו חייבים להודות להלל” therefore implying that we must praise hashem for taking us out of Egypt. Then two amudim later, the gemara explains that the hallel that we say is to be said when we are expressing our gratitude for redemption, which is the case with yetziat Mitzrayim. The gemara is responding to the fact that the hagadah tells us that every person must see themselves as if they left Egypt, therefore we must praise G-d for redeeming us.
Now that we know where the חיוב comes from we can try to understand the many differences between hallel at the seder and every other recitation. First, it is the only time that women are obligated to say hallel. The gemara clearly states that“חייב אדם לראות את עצמו”, this implies that everyone including women are obligated. Furthermore, Tosfot on Sukkah 38A explains that because women were also involved in the miracle they are obligated in the four cups and hallel.
The second difference is that Hallel at the seder is the only time it is said without a preceeding brachat hamitzva. In the Shulchan Aruch 487:4, Rav Yosef Karo explains that Sephardim read hallel in shul on that night so they can say it with a bracha, but the Rema explains that Ashkenazim do not hold like this. The Tur quotes the opinion of the Ritzvah who holds that you make a bracha before on the first part of hallel in maggid and then make a second bracha before the rest of Hallel. The Tur then quotes the Ritz who agrees with the Gra who say that you do not make a bracha at all because hallel is split up. The Gra adds that the reason Hallel was said in shul was because in those times people did not know how to daven so they fulfilled their obligation by responding the the chazzan. Another reason why we do not make a bracha as stated by the Ran in Pesachim chapter 10, is that although there is a mitzvah Seder night to praise G-d, this praise could be spontaneous and unstructured, and therefore do not require the words of the structured Hallel that we have. Since no specific song or praise is required, Chazal did not require a bracha before singing Hallel. The Rambam and the Chinuch say the reason that we don’t say a bracha before hallel at the seder is because the hallel is a facet of the mitzvah. This is because by retelling the story, praise and thanks are given, and we do not say a bracha on hakarat ha tov.
A third difference is that this is the only time that we say hallel at night. The mishna and Gemara in Megilla explain that we can say Hallel all Day as learned from two different psukim in hallel, ממזרח שמש עד מבואו תהלים קיג, ג או זה היום עשה ה’ תהלים קיח, כד so why can we say it at night? Chazal say the reason we say hallel at night in this case is because the miracle happened at night. This is based on a previous statement of tosafot that the hallel on pesach is miracle based. According to Rashi the reason that we can say it at night is because we are singing with the Korban Pesach
The fourth difference is that this is the only time where we say hallel sitting down. Why is that? First we know from the Aruch Hashulchan that Hallel is usually said standing, but the question still stands, why is this night different from all other times? The Mishna Berura explains that while usually we say hallel standing because it is a testimony, and testimony is said standing, on Pesach night because we split up hallel, we say it sitting. Additionally, the Shibollei Haleket explains that we say it sitting to show that we are free people.
Building off the Mishna Berura the question arises, why do we split up hallel? According to the Sefer Abudraham, the reason we split it up is to glorify the second cup with hallel. And according to Chazal we split it according to the fact that up until maggid we tell the story of yetziat mitzrayim and we make the bracha of asher gaalnu, so we say the parts of hallel that have to do with past redemption, and during hallel in the seder we say the parts of hallel that have to do with future redemptions. In the gemara on קטז: there is a machloket on where to split the hallel but ultimately we paskin that we say hallel until Betzayit Yisrael Mimitzrayim.
All in all, it seems to now make sense why this hallel is different than all other hallels.
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