02 Dec Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Tevet Paragraph Three
The word came to Jeremiah from God when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said: “Inquire now of God for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps God will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.”
But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah, ‘This is what God, the Lord of Israel, says:
I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city.
I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.
I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague.
After that, declares God,
I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’
“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what God says:
See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.
Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague.
But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.
I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares God.
It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’
“Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of God.
This is what God says to you, House of David:
“‘Administer justice every morning;
rescue from the hand of the oppressor
the one who has been robbed,
or my wrath will break out and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it.
I am against you, Jerusalem,
you who live above this valley
on the rocky plateau, declares God—
you who say,
“Who can come against us?
Who can enter our refuge?”
I will punish you as your deeds deserve,
I will kindle a fire in your forests
that will consume everything around you.’
(Jeremiah Chapter 21)”
This is the paragraph of Hallel that describes our great trust in God because He is True and real. He is not like the idols of the other nations.
Jeremiah’s audience trusted that God would save them.
They trusted that God would never allow the Babylonians to successfully destroy Jerusalem.
They trusted that God would protect His Holy Temple.
Jeremiah is warning them that their trust is misplaced; not because of God being unable to protect them, but because they have rejected God and His multiple warnings that if they refused to change and live as good people and create a just and righteous society, that they would be destroyed by the Babylonians.
We sing this paragraph because it is Hanukkah,
because our trust in God after the Chanukah miracle is so real and tangible, because we have recommitted ourselves to live as He desires,
because we are committed to bringing His Light to the world.
We can use the trust of Hanukkah,
the confidence of Hanukkah,
the joy of Hanukkah,
the reconnection to God of Hanukkah,
to project deserved trust that God will surely protect us over the coming month.
It was this level of trust that was lacking in Jeremiah’s generation.
It is not lacking as we sing this Hallel on Hanukkah.
We have the ability to sing this Hallel to protect us from tragedy with full confidence that this time it will protect us.