Succot Hallel: Paragraph One
At which point did the Children of Israel recite Hallel? When the plague of the Slaying of the First Born began, Pharaoh went and knocked on the door of Moshe and Aaron’s house. Pharaoh wanted Israel to leave immediately, in middle of the night. “Fool,” said Moshe, “ are we thieves that we should sneak out in middle of the night?” Pharaoh responded with desperation: “All of Egypt is dying. You must leave!” Moshe and Aaron said, “If you want to stop this plague, say ‘you are free. You are under your own power. You are now the servants of God.’ Pharaoh began to cry out, “In the past you were my slaves, but now you are free. You are under your own power. You are now the servants of God and you must praise Him for the fact that you are His servants.” That is why the verse says, “Praise Him servants of God.” (Midrash Socher Tov)
Rav Shlomo Kluger (Tehillot Yisrael) asks; How could Moshe offer advice to Pharaoh when we have learned that one is punished for advising an enemy:
Rab Judah has said in the name of Rab (or it may be R. Joshuah b. Levi) that Daniel was punished only because he gave advice to Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written, “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, and atone your sins by righteousness and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if there may be a lengthening of your tranquility etc.” (Bava Batra 4a)
He answers that Moshe was intent on speeding the redemption, as the Talmud teaches:
R. Abba said: All agree that when Israel was redeemed from Egypt they were redeemed in the evening. For it is said: “The Lord, your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night.” But they did not actually leave Egypt till the daytime. For it is said: “On the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with a high hand.”
About what do they disagree? — About the time of the haste.
R. Eleazar b. Azariah says: What is meant by ‘haste’? The haste of the Egyptians. And R. Akiba says: It is the haste of Israel. It has also been taught likewise: ‘The Lord, your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night.’ But did they leave in the night? Did not they in fact leave only in the morning, as it says: ‘On the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with a high hand?’ But this teaches that the redemption had already begun in the evening. (Berachot 9a)
One of the basic concepts of Succot, stressed by the Torah regarding the Four Species, is rushing forward: “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day,” the first day after Yom Kippur that we have an opportunity to sin. We rush to busy ourselves with Mitzvot to hold on to our Yom Kippur purity. We rush to fulfill God’s wishes.
We honor Moshe’s push to speed our redemption with this first paragraph of Hallel, and with our rush to perform God’s Mitzvot.