02 Dec Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tevet Paragraph One
This Rosh Chodesh Hallel is unusual in that we recite the complete Hallel, rather than skipping the first half of Psalm 115 and that of Psalm 116, because it is also Hanukkah.
It is unusual in another sense, as we are singing with the full joy of the Festival, even though in just a few days we will be fasting to commemorate the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem just before the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem surely knew that the Babylonian army was on its way to attack.
We will be commemorating other tragedies that occurred during this Hebrew month, such as the deaths of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the translation of the Torah into Greek for Ptolmey.
We sing this Hallel with full joy despite knowing that we will soon be commemorating this series of tragedies. This Hallel surely falls into the category of the Hallel we must sing before tragedy strikes.
“From the rising of the sun to its setting, God’s Name is praised (Psalm 113:3).” Although we know that it is not the sun that is circling the Earth, it is certainly the way it appears to our eyes: As if, we are circled by the sun; it surrounds us as a siege surrounds a city. This reminds us of another verse in Psalms, “Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains, and God surrounds His people, from now and forever (125:2).”
We sing this paragraph of the Hallel with full confidence that even though armies may come and surround Jerusalem, laying siege to it, God surrounds them and will protect us.
We take the joy of the Chanukah miracle with confidence and project it into the future and rejoice that the same Divine Guidance that protected us during the Chanukah story, will protect us during the coming month.