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hallel on Yom Haatzmaut & Rav Soloveichik


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 5, 5778
Did Rabbi Soloveitchik hold to say Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut?
At the minyan at Y.U. where Rav Soloveichik davened, they said Hallel on Yom HaAtzma’ut without a bracha, and after Kaddish Titkabel. In other words, no great halachic chiddush (Hallel there, without a bracha, is just like saying Tehilim)! On the other hand, if you learn the sources in shas, namely P’sachim 117a and Megilla 14a, it seems pretty clear that Hallel should be said with a bracha. Similarly, after learning Rabbenu Yona (8a in the Rif pages), which is the (!) source for those who don’t say Hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut, it’s clear that anyone who says Hallel on Chanuka with a bracha should also say on Yom HaAtzma’ut with a bracha. He writes that the difference between the “gomel” bracha (for the individual) and annual local “Purims” (as designated by many communities throughout the ages, like Pressburg, Angora, Izmir, etc.) as opposed to Hallel, is that Hallel is designated only for a national (!) salvation. On the other hand, during the story of Chanuka, most of the Jews were in Babylon, and weren’t in danger, so why do we all say Hallel on Chanuka?! Rabbenu Yona himself explains that the definition of a “national” salvation (as opposed to a “local” salvation) is that it has to take place in Eretz Yisrael (as he learns from the word “b’Artzechem”, and as is clear from the aforementioned source in Megilla 17a). The Jews in Eretz Yisrael are not just “another” community but are of national importance (explicitly in Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot Aseh153; Hil. Shgagot 13, 2)! Accordingly, Chanuka, as well as Yom HaAtzma’ut (salvation in the War of Independence) and Yom Yerushalyim (salvation in the Six Day War) are clearly national events and warrant Hallel with a bracha. Even the Chief Rabbinate who originally declared to say Hallel without a bracha, just did so in order to avoid controversy, so that all Jews should unanimously thank Hashem, regardless of their philosophy. Only after 20 years, when they saw that most non-Zionist factions weren’t saying Hallel anyway, even without a bracha, they declared it should be said with a bracha, as is clear from the sources.
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