Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tammuz: Introduction
This is the second most difficult Hallel to sing. I write this commentary to the Hallel for Rosh Chodesh Tammuz with the assumption that the 17th of Tammuz plays a defining role in Tammuz. There are three perspectives of the 17th of Tammuz; Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah’s vision of the day as a festival.
Jeremiah’s Call For Hallel: Jerusalem has been under Babylonian siege for months. People are dying of starvation. They refuse to heed the prophet’s call for surrender to save Jerusalem and God’s House, the Beit Hamikdash. They are convinced that Jerusalem will be miraculously saved as it has been in the past. It is inconceivable to them that God will allow the Babylonians to destroy His holy city and His House. However, they are beginning to doubt the miracle. It is in this context that Jeremiah calls on them, on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, less than three weeks before the walls will fall, to sing Hallel and be saved.
Ezekiel is already in Babylon. He has already received his mighty prophecy of the Chariot of God (Ezekiel, Chapter 1). The Jews who have been living in Babylon for eleven years are settled, doing well, and beginning to assimilate. They are still connected to their brethren in Jerusalem, but the connection is weakening. Ezekiel calls on these exiles to sing Hallel even as they wonder about their connection to God, Jerusalem and the Temple.
A Day of Joy
Zechariah promises the Jews that all the Days of Tragedy, including the 17th of Tammuz and even Tisha B’Av, will be transformed into days of celebration. This is the Hallel that describes how the tragedies will be reversed.