Chanukah Hallel: Open Up
In the Hallel, we say: “pitachta l’moseray”, translated as “You have released me of my bonds”. However, ‘pitachta’ literally means “You have opened”. In the Morning Blessings
and in the Amidah we say “matir asurim”, “Who releases the bound”. What is the difference between both expressions?
At first glance, it would seem that releasing the bound is much more powerful. Indeed, it is going from the state of imprisonment to the state of freedom. Imagine someone tied up in chains -whether of a physical, emotional or spiritual nature-, then from one moment to the next, the person is released.
‘Pitachta’, though, is just an opening. It is God untying the knot of the ropes that were choking us. Then, we still have to take the step to shake ourselves free.
If you have ever felt constrained by something to the point where you thought you couldn’t breathe anymore, and then, you experience the weight that was crushing you being lifted off- that is ‘pitachta’. The first instant of liberation, the opening, the beginning of hope; that is the most exhilarating experience. Even if it means that our suffering isn’t over yet, that we haven’t been completely freed from what was oppressing us.
“Pitachta L’Moseray” is what the Maccabees experienced; a sense of relief from their struggles, an opportunity to take in a breath of hope, a glimpse of light.
And they were able to hold on to the feeling, even though the conflict wan’t over, even though they would still have to fight.