Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Av Paragraph One: Aways Your Servants
“And who recited this Hallel? The prophets among them ordained that Israel should recite it at every important epoch and at every misfortune — may it not come upon them! and when they are redeemed they recite [in gratitude] for their redemption (Pesachim 117a).”
How did the Jews sing Hallel on Rosh Chodesh Av, when the Babylonians were already in the city, and they knew that they were defeated? Did they sing it so that the misfortune would not come upon them; a desperate plea for a miracle?
I suggest that they sang this Hallel according to the first instruction: “The prophets among them ordained that Israel should recite it at every important epoch,” this was a Hallel for the future. They sang Hallel with the clear understanding that Israel was poised to begin another important stage; surviving in exile. They sang this Hallel as a declaration that they would continue to sing to God as His servants even in exile. It was this Hallel that empowered them to achieve great things in Babylon, in Rome, and all over the world.
We too can sing this Hallel with the same intention: So much of what once was is gone. It is clear that we must be prepared for a new existence in this complicated world. We begin the preparation by declaring our commitment to continue to sing as God’s servants:
Praise, you who serve God! Praise the Name of God.
Let the Name of God be blessed from now and forever.
From sunrise to sundown, the Name of God is praised.
God is above all the nations. His Glory is beyond the sky.”
Many of us wonder, whether God, Who has hidden His Presence is still involved in our existence as a nation. We therefore declare:
“Who is like God, our Lord, Who lives up high, but drops down to see what happens (to us) in the (lower) heaven and earth? “
If the rest of the world is against us, and if they urge us, as the Midrash (Pesikta Rabbati 21:11) states: “Leave and desert your people, and we will raise you to the rank of nobility,” we respond:
“Who lifts up the lowly from the dust, raises the destitute from the garbage dumps to be seated with leaders, the leaders of their people.”
As the world criticizes everything Israel does, declaring her barren; abandoned by the rest of the world, we respond:
“Who Makes a home for the childless woman and joy for the mother of children. Hallelukah!”
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