Where Does Hallel Come From? The Organization of Hallel and Parshas Emor – Part 1

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13 Apr 2017

Article abstract: Hallel is comprised of six sequential chapters within Tehillim recited on most holidays in joyous praise of God. Surprisingly, examination of the tone and content of those chapters reveals that they cover quite a disparate range of topics, and many parts do not seem to be particularly joyous. To explain this curious observation, we relate each sequential section of Hallel to one of the special holy days listed in Parshas Emor, in Chap 23 of Vayikra, in a one-to-one correspondence. Using a variety of textual, conceptual, thematic, and aggadic approaches we show how each section in turn reflects the essence of the holiday to which it is mated, thus explaining the diversity present within Hallel. This leads to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the entire unit, and of its beauty and complexity, and ultimately reflects upon the intimate and unique relationship which Klal Yisrael shares with God through each holiday. In Part 3, support for the central thesis is brought from within the Rabbinic literature. Footnotes are primarily employed to explore ancillary points that emerge from the discussion of the central thesis, which are of more academic or esoteric interest.


Everybody knows Hallel. They know it in their sleep.

And everybody knows what it means. “Praise”. Every siddur translates it that way.

But did you ever notice how different the kepitlach are from each other? For instance look at 113. Just as we would expect, it is full of general praise for HaShem– how He is praised forever, and all day long; how much greater than any human agency He is; and how He gives stature to and gladdens the disadvantaged; Overall, happy, lighthearted, and uplifting!

Now take a look at 116. It has a very different character. This one is all about the speaker, and less so about HaShem. And the speaker is anything but happy. He does seem desperately grateful that HaShem listens to him when he calls out, but he is surrounded by cords of death and is facing the grave with fear, hoping from the depths of his heart that God will rescue him, remove him from a future of death, tears and perpetual exile or sin, and welcome him forever into the “land of the living”, perhaps a euphemism for Olam Habah. But as for this world, it is filled with men who are liars.

How different are those two kepitlach! Yet, they are both part of Hallel, and hence are part of one unified whole. Moreover, Hallel is comprised of consecutive kepitlach, a detail which certainly implies a sequential organization. What accounts for the contrast between the individual paragraphs? In a larger sense, our question becomes how is Hallel organized, and what is its organizing principle?

So as always when it comes to the davening, the first step is to COUNT the elements[1]. And right away, we run into a problem. There are six kepitlach. Six is a ‘wrong’ number. It is incomplete[2]. Six is almost always simply a prelude to seven.

To further complicate matters, Chaza’l ‘play’ with it a little. They take two of the kepitlach, 115 and 116, and break them both into 2 ‘sections’, each after the 11th posuk. That takes the original six sections, and turns them into eight. At least that is a more ‘comfortable’ number and signifies that which is spiritual, l’ma’alah min hatevah in the vernacular of the Maharal miPrague, elevated above anything in the natural world.

With that brief introduction, I would like to suggest a possible organizing principle, based on the roster of the Jewish holidays mi’d’Oraisa throughout the year, as they are listed in Parshas Emor, in Chapter 23 of Vayikra.

How many special times (divided by paragraph breaks) are listed in Parshas Emor throughout the year? Make sure you start at the beginning and don’t miss any. Hmmm…There are seven; well at least that is a number that we are familiar with, but it doesn’t seem to fit Hallel at all. In fact it’s kind of stuck in the middle between six and eight, no man’s land. The seven special times are: (1) Shabbos; (2) Pesach; (3) Shavuos; (4) Rosh Hashanah; (5) Yom Kippur; (6) Sukkos; (7) Shemini Atzeres.

Notice, however, that the description of the holidays seems somewhat chaotic at the very end of the holy-day listing: after the Chumash introduces Sukkos and proceeds through Shemini Atzeres, it apparently ‘signs off’ on all the holidays. But then it returns a second time to Sukkos and discusses it with additional details. Why is not clear, but at least that does get us closer to our magic number, eight. Well, sorta. We will clarify in more depth how the Chumash treats Sukkos in Part II, once we reach that juncture. In Part III we will explore support for the central thesis within the exegetical literature by dissecting some statements of the Baal haTurim.

SO, before we give up on the idea, let’s try it on for size and see if we can draw some parallels. To do this, we will look both at the words—reflected by their sheroshim—as well as the theme and the tone of each kepitil or section, and see if we can spot some parallels.

[The Reader may have already noted an objection to give him pause in accepting this whole approach. IF SO, we beg his temporary forbearance; we will address those concerns anon…]

 שבת:                      תהלים פרק קיג

א  הַלְלוּיָ-הּ הַלְלוּ עַבְדֵי יְ-הֹוָה הַלְלוּ אֶת-שֵׁם יְ-הֹוָה:  ב  יְהִי שֵׁם יְ-הֹוָה מְבֹרָךְ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם:  ג  מִמִּזְרַח –    שֶׁמֶשׁ עַד-מְבוֹאוֹ מְהֻלָּל שֵׁם יְ-הֹוָה:  ד  רָם עַל-כָּל-  גּוֹיִם יְ-הֹוָה עַל הַשָּׁמַיִם כְּבוֹדוֹ:  ה  מִי כַּי-הֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ הַמַּגְבִּיהִי לָשָׁבֶת:  ו  הַמַּשְׁפִּילִי לִרְאוֹת בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ:  ז  מְקִימִי מֵעָפָר דָּל מֵאַשְׁפֹּת יָרִים אֶבְיוֹן:  ח  לְהוֹשִׁיבִי עִם-נְדִיבִים עִם נְדִיבֵי עַמּוֹ:  ט  מוֹשִׁיבִי עֲקֶרֶת הַבַּיִת אֵם-הַבָּנִים שְׂמֵחָה הַלְלוּיָ-הּ:

From the get-go, looks like a pretty fair start. In the narrative of Creation, we are introduced to a number of the important players in this universe, including Heaven and Earth, and the Sun, which determines the duration of Day, “yom” (“from the shining forth of the sun [from the East] until its coming [to the western horizon]”), all featured prominently in the Creation narrative.

More compelling, we find in Chapter 2 of Breishis a more detailed account of the creation of Man, ‘Afar  min ha’adamah’ (2:7). Man, metaphorically if not literally, is the quintessential offspring of Mother Earth, the אֵם-הַבָּנִים[3]. It is his ‘birth’ that “gladdens” her and gives tachlis—purpose—to her creation.

Further, Man’s essence as the Tzelem Elokim engenders the very purpose for his creation, vis-a-vis the Original of which he is merely the image: ie his purpose is to sing praise to the Name of his Creator, in Whose image he was made. Significantly it is exactly that purpose which is defined within the first two pesukim of the kepitil!

Note all the bolded words, whose sherashim appear in chapters 1-2 of Breishis, culminating in the First Shabbos[4], the Shabbos of Creation.

Even the word “לָשָׁבֶת” might be considered a pun for “For the Shabbos”!

So perhaps we might conclude that 113 represents the kepitil of the first of the holy-days of Emor, the Shabbos.

 פסח:                       תהלים פרק קיד

א  בְּצֵאת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם בֵּית יַעֲקֹב מֵעַם לֹעֵז:  ב  הָיְתָה יְהוּדָה לְקָדְשׁוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַמְשְׁלוֹתָיו:  ג  הַיָּם רָאָה וַיָּנֹס הַיַּרְדֵּן יִסֹּב לְאָחוֹר:  ד  הֶהָרִים רָקְדוּ  כְאֵילִים גְּבָעוֹת כִּבְנֵי-צֹאן:  ה  מַה-לְּךָ הַיָּם כִּי תָנוּס הַיַּרְדֵּן תִּסֹּב לְאָחוֹר:  ו  הֶהָרִים תִּרְקְדוּ כְאֵילִים גְּבָעוֹת כִּבְנֵי-צֹאן:  ז  מִלִּפְנֵי אָדוֹן חוּלִי אָרֶץ מִלִּפְנֵי  אֱ-לוֹהַּ יַעֲקֹב:  ח  הַהֹפְכִי הַצּוּר אֲגַם-מָיִם חַלָּמִישׁ לְמַעְיְנוֹ-מָיִם:

Sure enough, one glance at the first 3 words is enough to link 114 intimately to Pesach! Note all the bolded words whose sherashim are found in Sh’mos 14-15, the account of Krias Yam Suf  that is the focus of the central part of the kepitil. not to mention uncommon words like “אֲגַם” which are found within the first 2 plagues [Sh’mos 7:19, 8:1], and  כְאֵילִים —a pun for אֵילִמָה in Sh’mos 15:27 and                     עֵינֹת מַיִם = לְמַעְיְנוֹ‑מָיִם  within the same posuk, embedded within the larger story of Yetzias Mitzrayim.

So we may conclude that 114 is the kepitil of the second of the holy-days of Emor, Pesach.

An emerging pattern is developing.

Before we address the next kepitil, let’s first note a number of curious parallels between Shavuos and Shemini Atzeres which may be germane to understanding the character of both days:

  1. Neither holiday has a fixed date delimited in the Chumash. The exact date of Matan Torah in fact is shrouded in controversy—was it the 6th or the 7th of Sivan?? Rather, the consecration of the one-day holiday of Shavuos is fixed to the preceding 7-day holiday of Pesach rather than to a specific calendar date. Indeed Chaza’l call it the ATZERES of Pesach, clearly a parallel to the relationship between Shemini ATZERES and Sukkos.

Similarly the Chumash introduces the one-day holiday of Shemini Atzeres as the ‘8th day‘ of the preceding 7-day holiday of Sukkos [See Vayikra 23:34 and especially 23:36, read carefully!]. On the surface, such a day does not properly exist—One could call it ‘a-new-holiday-the-day-after’ a 7-day holiday, or ‘the-final-day’ of an 8-day holy interval, but to call it an “8th day of a 7-day holiday”??–that defies logic! And all this is in contrast to the fact that Shemini Atzeres is clearly designated as a “yom tov bifnei atzmo” in Halachah!

Thus in a sense it almost seems as if neither day is a ‘human’ day, definable in terms of specific dates on the human calendar—both of them seem to be days that ‘don’t exist’ in this world exactly;

  1. Neither holiday has any mitzvos d’Oraisa for an individual attached to it. Both have communal korbanos of course, but unlike Pesach and Sukkos, there is no yom-tov-specific personal mitzvah for you or me to do as individuals[5]—No storytelling, matzah, marror, lulav, esrog, sukkah, etc.

Nada. Nothing.

The Chumash in fact attaches no human activity to these days, almost as if they are not ‘human’ days at all; Moreover, in both cases, Chaza’l ‘fill in the gaps’ with non-d’Oraisa activities pertaining to the entirety of the Torah for us to do, almost so we don’t simply celebrate the day ‘twiddling our thumbs’.  Therefore on Shavuos we stay awake all night long studying in honor of the GIVING of the entire Torah, and on Shemini Atzeres we have the cycles of the hakafos celebrating the cycle of COMPLETION and re-starting of the entire Torah;

  1. Both days are ‘eights’ and as we alluded to above, that makes them spiritual, elevated above the mere natural, and perhaps more personally ‘holidays of God’ rather than belonging to Man. Shemini Atzeres is obviously so, and Shavuos is counted as the 50th day from the second day of Pesach—hence it is an eight-equivalent: 7×7=49  +1, as a parallel to 7 +1;
  1. Both days follow a count of the Sefirah from the preceding yom tov—Shavuous obviously so, but also Shemini Atzeres, following the seven days of recitation of the Hoshanos culminating in Hoshanah Rabbah (see commentary on the Hoshanos in the Artscroll Siddur regarding the Sefiros ‘hiding’ within, va’akmal).
  1. Last but not least, Shavuos is a day which we intuit is uniquely God’s Day. It is His special day, when HE manifested in all of His awesome majesty, amidst the tens of thousands of His Celestial retinue, to give to His precious nation His most precious possession, the Torah. The character of the day is known as Z’man MATAN Toraseinu, , not Z’man Kabalas  Toraseinu, because the emphasis needs to be on the Giver, not on the receiver!

In summary it seems clear that Shavuos is GOD’s special day. It is all about HASHEM, HIS Name/’reputation’, and HIS glory, and is not about us at all.

It is in fact….  [6]לֹא לָנוּ!!

 שבועות:               תהלים פרק קטו: א-י”א

א  לֹא לָנוּ יְ-הֹוָה לֹא לָנוּ כִּי לְשִׁמְךָ תֵּן כָּבוֹד עַל-חַסְדְּךָ עַל-אֲמִתֶּךָ:  ב  לָמָּה יֹאמְרוּ הַגּוֹיִם אַיֵּה-נָא אֱ-לֹהֵיהֶם:  ג  וֵא‑לֹהֵינוּ בַשָּׁמָיִם כֹּל אֲשֶׁר-חָפֵץ עָשָׂה:  ד  עֲצַבֵּיהֶם כֶּסֶף  וְזָהָב מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי אָדָם:  ה  פֶּה לָהֶם וְלֹא יְדַבֵּרוּ עֵינַיִם לָהֶם וְלֹא יִרְאוּ:  ו  אָזְנַיִם לָהֶם וְלֹא יִשְׁמָעוּ אַף לָהֶם וְלֹא יְרִיחוּן:  ז  יְדֵיהֶם וְלֹא יְמִישׁוּן רַגְלֵיהֶם וְלֹא יְהַלֵּכוּ לֹא-  יֶהְגּוּ בִּגְרוֹנָם:  ח  כְּמוֹהֶם יִהְיוּ עֹשֵׂיהֶם כֹּל אֲשֶׁר-בֹּטֵחַ בָּהֶם:  ט  יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּטַח בַּי-הֹוָה עֶזְרָם וּמָגִנָּם הוּא:  י  בֵּית אַהֲרֹן בִּטְחוּ בַי-הֹוָה עֶזְרָם וּמָגִנָּם הוּא:  יא  יִרְאֵי יְ-הֹוָה  בִּטְחוּ בַיהֹוָה עֶזְרָם וּמָגִנָּם הוּא:

Moreover, it is not hard to see the first three commandments given at Matan Torah ‘hiding’ within the kepitil:


אָנֹכִי יְ-הוָֹה אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ א  לֹא לָנוּ יְ-הֹוָה לֹא לָנוּ כִּי   לְשִׁמְךָ תֵּן כָּבוֹד עַל-חַסְדְּךָ עַל-אֲמִתֶּךָ:… ג  וֵא-לֹהֵינוּ בַשָּׁמָיִם כֹּל אֲשֶׁר-חָפֵץ עָשָׂה


לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל-פָּנָי: ב  לָמָּה יֹאמְרוּ הַגּוֹיִם אַיֵּה-נָא אֱ-לֹהֵיהֶם:  …  ד  עֲצַבֵּיהֶם כֶּסֶף  וְזָהָב מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי אָדָם:  ה  פֶּה לָהֶם וְלֹא יְדַבֵּרוּ עֵינַיִם לָהֶם וְלֹא יִרְאוּ:  ו  אָזְנַיִם לָהֶם וְלֹא יִשְׁמָעוּ אַף לָהֶם וְלֹא יְרִיחוּן:  ז  יְדֵיהֶם וְלֹא יְמִישׁוּן רַגְלֵיהֶם וְלֹא יְהַלֵּכוּ לֹא-  יֶהְגּוּ בִּגְרוֹנָם

לֹא תִשָּׂא  אֶת-שֵׁם-יְ-הוָֹה אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ לַשָּׁוְא כִּי לֹא יְנַקֶּה יְ-הֹוָה אֵת אֲשֶׁר-יִשָּׂא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ לַשָּׁוְא

ט  יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּטַח בַּי-הֹוָה עֶזְרָם וּמָגִנָּם הוּא:  י  בֵּית אַהֲרֹן בִּטְחוּ בַי-הֹוָה עֶזְרָם וּמָגִנָּם הוּא:  יא  יִרְאֵי יְ-הֹוָה  בִּטְחוּ בַיהֹוָה עֶזְרָם וּמָגִנָּם הוּא:


Regarding Commandment #3, when we swear by God’s name, we are invoking His Name as testimony that what we have averred is absolutely true;  Thus we are using His Name as the benchmark for what is absolutely TRUSTworthy and demonstrating we have been  “בִּטְחוּ”  in Him!  And of course, such a sacred trust should never be abused to uphold something false—exactly the point of the 3rd Commandment![7]

In addition, note the three divisions of Israel within pesukim 9-11 of the kepitil, parallel to the arrangement of the members of Bnei Yisrael around the mountain during Ma’amad Har Sinai –[in reverse order] Moshe, the “Yireh HaShem” on the mountain proper [equivalent to the Machaneh Sh’chinah of the Mishkan]; then Aharon, his sons (“בֵּית אַהֲרֹן”), and the z’keinim near the bottom of the mountain [parallel to Machaneh L’vi’ah of the Mishkan]; and then “Yisrael”, the rest of the nation, surrounding the entire mountain [parallel to the Machaneh Yisrael of the Mishkan].

Thus, we conclude that the first part of 115 is indeed the kepitil of Shavuos.

Moreover, some Aggadic support exists that God has always experienced a special relationship with Shavuos, further validating that it may be viewed as His special day. Following the creation of Man on the Day #6 of the Ma’aseh Breishis, the Chumash deviates from its usual pattern and adds a ‘hei hayedi’ah‘ to the name of the day, calling it  יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי  (Breishis 1:31) rather than simply יוֹם שִּׁשִּׁי, as per the format of the preceding days. Rashi here references the Gemarah in Shabbos 88a, “Why the extra hei?  To teach that The Holy-One Blessed be He made a conditional agreement with the Works of Creation: ‘if Israel will indeed accept the Torah [on THE Sixth Day (of Sivan)] then you will indeed be sustained; but if they don’t, then I will return you to the nothingness of  tohu vavohu’.”

So even as the process of Creation draws to a close, HaShem had already anticipated the events of the 6th of Sivan and had a special relationship to Shavuos, indeed making the completion and persistence of the Bri’ah itself dependent upon it. No similar aggaditah is brought stating that HaShem would have reversed the Bri’ah were Israel to default on their Pesach Mitzrayim, or were they to have not been housed in sukkos in the desert. So HaShem’s relationship to Shavuos seems unique among the Shalosh Regalim.

This relationship can be extended even farther back in time through combination with yet another Rashi, on the first posuk in all of Chumash: there he states that from a dikduk perspective בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא cannot mean ‘In the beginning God created…’, rather it means ‘On account of that which [preceded Creation and] is called  רֵאשִׁית  in Tana’ch, God created…’ Quotes Rashi from Breishis Rabah—this specifically refers to the Torah and Israel.

Therefore, since the very creation of the universe was solely predicated upon God’s understanding that Klal Yisrael was destined to take possession of the Torah on the 6th day of Sivan 2448 years hence, one could postulate that HaShem in essence ‘anticipated’ and ‘celebrated’ Shavuos even before He began the Creation process! His special day, indeed, and לֹא לָנוּ…


 ראש השנה:                    תהלים פרק קטו: י”ב-י”ח


יב  יְ-הֹוָה זְכָרָנוּ יְבָרֵךְ יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-בֵּית אַהֲרֹן:  יג  יְבָרֵךְ יִרְאֵי יְ-הֹוָה הַקְּטַנִּים עִם-הַגְּדֹלִים:  יד  יֹסֵף יְ‑הֹוָה עֲלֵיכֶם  עֲלֵיכֶם וְעַל-בְּנֵיכֶם:  טו  בְּרוּכִים אַתֶּם לַי-הֹוָה עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ:  טז  הַשָּׁמַיִם שָׁמַיִם לַי-הֹוָה וְהָאָרֶץ נָתַן לִבְנֵי-אָדָם:  יז  לֹא-הַמֵּתִים יְהַלְלוּ-יָ-הּ וְלֹא כָּל-יֹרְדֵי דוּמָה:  יח  וַאֲנַחְנוּ נְבָרֵךְ יָ-הּ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם הַלְלוּיָ-הּ:


Note how many of the words reflect the essence of Rosh Hashanah:

הַשָּוֶה, וּמַשְוֶה קָטֹן וְגָדוֹל :  וְכֹל מַאַמִנִים שֶהוּא שוֹפֵט צֶדֶק)


Shoresh in kepitil Location of shoresh in Creation narrative through Day 6
זכר   “remember” Possibly a pun on זכר  “male” in [1:27]
ברך [1:22,28]
ירא [3:10]
קטן [1:16]
גדל [1:16, 21]
יסף [4:2]
בן [3:16]
עשה [1:7, etc]
שמים [1:1, etc]
ארץ [1:1, etc]
נתן [1:17, 3:6,12]
אדם [1:26, etc]
מות [2:17, etc]
ירד Possibly a pun on רדה  in [1:26, 28]
עלם [3:22]


Thus we conclude the second part of 115 reflects the very somber tone of Rosh Hashanah.


 יום כיפור:                      תהלים פרק קטז: א-י”א


א  אָהַבְתִּי כִּי-יִשְׁמַע יְ-הֹוָה אֶת-קוֹלִי תַּחֲנוּנָי:  ב  כִּי-הִטָּה אָזְנוֹ לִי וּבְיָמַי אֶקְרָא:  ג  אֲפָפוּנִי חֶבְלֵי-מָוֶת וּמְצָרֵי שְׁאוֹל מְצָאוּנִי צָרָה וְיָגוֹן אֶמְצָא:  ד  וּבְשֵׁם-  יְ-הֹוָה אֶקְרָא אָנָּה יְ-הֹוָה מַלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי:  ה  חַנּוּן יְ-הוָֹה וְצַדִּיק וֵא-לֹהֵינוּ מְרַחֵם:  ו  שֹׁמֵר פְּתָאיִם יְ-הוָֹה דַּלֹּתִי וְלִי יְהוֹשִׁיעַ:  ז  שׁוּבִי נַפְשִׁי לִמְנוּחָיְכִי כִּי יְ-הֹוָה גָּמַל  עָלָיְכִי:  ח  כִּי חִלַּצְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִמָּוֶת אֶת-עֵינִי מִן-דִּמְעָה אֶת-רַגְלִי מִדֶּחִי:  ט  אֶתְהַלֵּךְ לִפְנֵי יְ-הֹוָה בְּאַרְצוֹת הַחַיִּים:  י  הֶאֱמַנְתִּי כִּי אֲדַבֵּר אֲנִי עָנִיתִי מְאֹד:  יא  אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי בְחָפְזִי כָּל-הָאָדָם כֹּזֵב:


Perhaps the most straightforward way to relate this section to Yom Kippur is to examine it from the standpoint of both its tone and the topics which it addresses. Consider the following loose and interpretive ‘translation’ of this section in the light of your last Yom Kippur experience!


א  אָהַבְתִּי כִּי-יִשְׁמַע יְ-הֹוָה אֶת-קוֹלִי תַּחֲנוּנָי:  ב  כִּי-הִטָּה אָזְנוֹ לִי וּבְיָמַי אֶקְרָא:


ג  אֲפָפוּנִי חֶבְלֵי-מָוֶת וּמְצָרֵי שְׁאוֹל מְצָאוּנִי צָרָה וְיָגוֹן אֶמְצָא:


ד  וּבְשֵׁם–  יְ-הֹוָה אֶקְרָא אָנָּה יְ‑הֹוָה מַלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי:  ה  חַנּוּן יְ‑הוָֹה וְצַדִּיק וֵא-לֹהֵינוּ מְרַחֵם:


ו  שֹׁמֵר פְּתָאיִם יְ-הוָֹה דַּלֹּתִי וְלִי יְהוֹשִׁיעַ:  ז  שׁוּבִי נַפְשִׁי לִמְנוּחָיְכִי כִּי יְ-הֹוָה גָּמַל  עָלָיְכִי:


ח  כִּי חִלַּצְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִמָּוֶת אֶת-עֵינִי מִן-דִּמְעָה אֶת-רַגְלִי מִדֶּחִי:  ט  אֶתְהַלֵּךְ לִפְנֵי יְ-הֹוָה בְּאַרְצוֹת הַחַיִּים:


י  הֶאֱמַנְתִּי כִּי אֲדַבֵּר אֲנִי עָנִיתִי מְאֹד:


יא  אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי בְחָפְזִי כָּל-הָאָדָם כֹּזֵב:

Yom Kippur is a day of blessing, a day that I love because it gives me a chance to renew a pristine relationship with God, a day filled with my calling with pleas for teshuvah which HaShem is especially eager to accept.


In spite of that I am in distress, worried about my death if my pleas are not favorably received.


I call upon HaShem in the name of His 13 Attributes of Mercy, repeated throughout the day. cf. י…וַיִּקְרָא בְשֵׁם יְ‑הוָֹה:  ו  וַיַּעֲבֹר יְ‑הוָֹה עַל-פָּנָיו וַיִּקְרָא  יְ‑הוָֹה   יְ‑הֹוָה  אֵ-ל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן… [שמות פרק לד: ה-ו]י


I am brought low from succumbing to my sins which have at times caught me unawares, and want salvation. I really desire that HaShem bestow upon me a teshuvah shleimah so my soul can rest.


My tears reflect my sincerity and I am weary from all my standing!

Please grant me LIFE!



I subject myself to the 5 categories of Innui [וְעִנִּיתֶם אֶת- נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם] – affliction. Surely that provides me with ne’emanus of my sincerity!


I recite Vidui, including admissions that we have all dealt falsely— KIZAVNU!


Not so far-fetched after all! Pretty clearly we can conclude that the first part of 116 is the section belonging to Yom Kippur[8].

Up til now things have been pretty straightforward, but in Part II we will explore the surprising complexity of Sukkos, reflected within Parshas Emor, Parshas Pinchas, and Hallel itself. We will complete our discussion of the parallels between the sections of Hallel and the yomim tovim, resolve some difficulties with this approach (as promised earlier) and in the process will touch upon the relationships between Israel, the non-Jewish Nations, and God, at the End of Time. In Part III we will briefly review the overall structure of Sefer Vayikra as an introduction to finding support for the central thesis of this miniseries within the commentary of the Baal haTurim. So hold on to your hats for a wild ride into the not-so-distant future and stay tuned— same time, same place, and don’t touch that dial—errr—Universal remote!


Part II


Composed largely on the 5th of Sh’vat 5777, the 19th yahrtzeit of my mother, Bede Yaffeע”ה, Beila d’Raizia bas Baruch HaLevi


A lesson that she lived and taught to me

[1]   For a more complete discussion of this concept, see The Tisha B’Av that Wasn’t There  by Barry Yaffe  https://www.ou.org/torah/machshava/machshava-from-ou/tisha-bav-wasnt/  . Concept introduced near middle of article.

[2]   Even apparent ‘standalone 6’s’ generally form merely part of a totality of 7. eg:   יא  כִּי  שֵׁשֶׁת – יָמִים  עָשָׂה יְ-הֹוָה אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ אֶת-הַיָּם וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-בָּם וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי עַל-כֵּן בֵּרַךְ  יְ-הוָֹה אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ (שמות פרק כ יא)י ; similarly the ששה סדרי משנה –which are simply a concise expression of  תורה שבעל פה –are incomplete (and meaningless!) without the seventh (or 1st) component of  תורה שבכתב !

[3]   Parenthetically, note the parallel use of  עֲקֶרֶת הַבַּיִת אֵם-הַבָּנִים in Yeshiyahu 54:1:  רָנִּי  עֲקָרָה  לֹא יָלָדָה פִּצְחִי רִנָּה וְצַהֲלִי לֹא-חָלָה כִּי-רַבִּים בְּנֵי-שׁוֹמֵמָה מִבְּנֵי בְעוּלָה אָמַר יְ-הֹוָה  . Although almost all commentators (including the Targum) understand the “Barren one” who has lost her children [as if they never were] to be Yerushalayim, perhaps Chaza’l see it more inclusively. For they assign this section of Nevi’im as the Haftorah for Parshas No’ach—which chronicles the destruction and rebirth—not of Yerushalayim’s offspring—but of Mother Earth‘s herself!

[4]   In fact, Shabbos herself provides the ‘musical score’ for her own sublime Song! As we proclaim in the Shabbos morning davening prior to the Birchos Kri’as Shema,  Shabbos offers her own praise to God [in conjunction with Adam, the composer of her kepitil]:  זֶה שֶׁבַח שֶׁל  יוֹם הַשְׂבִיעִי, שֶׁבּוֹ שָׁבַת אֵ-ל מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ: וְיוֹם הַשְׂבִיעִי מְשַׁבֵּחַ וְאוֹמֵר “מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר לְיוֹם הַשַׂבָּת, טוֹב לְהוֹדוֹת לַי-הוָה”י . In essence, Shabbos, the Earth, and Adam/Man are singing as one; perhaps a critical subtext for Kepitil 113! A similar concept of a wordless song is advanced in 19:1-4, notably  :ד  אֵין אֹמֶר  וְאֵין דְּבָרִים בְּלִי נִשְׁמָע קוֹלָם

[5]   Regarding the individual’s obligations to bring Olos R’iyah and Shalmei Chagigah, those are certainly present on Shavuos, and according to certain opinions also to a limited extent on Shemini Atzeres (see Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin’s discussion in pp154-5 of Yad HaRav Herzog [Hebrew] 1983 edition of  המועדים בהלכה , [pp343-4 in the 1981 Artscroll translation]. Regardless, those obligations are not within the category of  “yom-tov-specific mitzvos” as stated above.

[6]   Rabbi Yoel Spotts of Atlanta ,GA points out that this assertion is apparently contradicted by Meseches Pesachim 68b in its discussion of the dispute between Rebbe Eliezer and Rebbe Yehoshua regarding which aspects of the Korban Pesach avodah supercede Shabbos when erev Pesach falls on Saturday:

א”ר אליעזר ומה אם שחיטה וכו’: ר’ יהושע לטעמיה דאמר שמחת י”ט נמי מצוה היא דתניא ר’ אליעזר אומר אין לו לאדם בי”ט אלא או אוכל ושותה או יושב ושונה ר’ יהושע אומר  חלקהו חציו לאכילה ושתיה וחציו לבית המדרש וא”ר יוחנן ושניהם מקרא אחד דרשו כתוב אחד אומר עצרת לה’ א-להיך וכתוב אחד אומר עצרת  תהיה לכם ר’ אליעזר סבר או כולו לה’ או כולו לכם ור’ יהושע סבר חלקהו חציו לה’ וחציו לכם: (עב”ם סימן) א”ר אלעזר הכל מודים בעצרת דבעינן נמילכם מ”ט  יום שניתנה בו תורה הוא

Possibly the contradiction can be resolved by focusing on the last 5 words, in the context of the the Gemarah in Bava Metzia 59b, the dramatic account of the apparently supernatural disagreement between Rebbe Eliezer and the Chachamim (led by Rebbe Yehoshua—ie the same two protagonists!) regarding the status of a segmented oven:

עמד רבי יהושע על רגליו ואמר  “לא   בשמים   היא”!  מאי  “לא   בשמים   היא”?  אמר רבי ירמיה שכבר נתנה תורה מהר סיני אין אנו משגיחין בבת קול שכבר כתבת בהר סיני בתורה “אחרי רבים להטות”

Perhaps one could postulate that according to Rav Elazar, God ‘transferred shared possession’ of the holiday of Shavuos from Himself to Man— at the same time that He entrusted Man with possession of the Torah on that same holiday!

[7]   For additional insight see Rashi on D’varim 6:13 entitled ובשמו תשבע, and Midrash Tanchuma cited therein. See also Ramban loc. cit. especially section starting וראיתי עוד בתנחומא, where Ramban pointedly references HaShem (from D’varim 4:24) as an אש אוכלה הוא, taken from Moshe’s description of Ma’amad Har Sinai, of course occurring on the day of the 1st Shavuos! [Insight thanks to Hershel Yaffe, in Kollel at Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns, Woodmere, NY!]

[8]   For a more academic connection,  see Meseches Rosh Hashanah 17a—where the Gemarah directly references these pesukim to the day when “beinunim” receive their g’mar din—ie Yom Kippur!

תניא ב”ש אומרים ג’  כתות הן ליום הדין אחת של צדיקים גמורין ואחת של רשעים גמורין ואחת של בינוניים צדיקים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לחיי עולם רשעים  גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לגיהנם שנאמר ורבים מישני אדמת עפר יקיצו אלה לחיי עולם ואלה לחרפות לדראון עולם בינוניים יורדין לגיהנם [דף יז/א] ומצפצפין ועולין שנאמר והבאתי את השלישית באש וצרפתים כצרוף את הכסף ובחנתים כבחון את הזהב הוא יקרא בשמי ואני אענה אותו  ועליהם אמרה חנה ה’ ממית ומחי’ מוריד שאול ויעל. בית הלל אומרים ורב חסד מטה כלפי חסד ועליהם אמר דוד אהבתי כי ישמע ה’ את קולי ועליהם  אמר דוד כל הפרשה כולה דלותי ולי יהושיע

Kudos to Shalom Tuvia Gordon of Yerushalayim, Rosh Kollel of  Kollel Chaburat Lomdim for his contribution!