Hallel – Lesson 1 -– Questions for discussion

The Origins of Hallel

Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesachim 117a

Questions for discussion:  According to this passage, who decided when Hallel should be recited?  From when does Hallel date according to the first paragraph?

What are the two opinions in the second paragraph about who composed the Hallel? Why is Rabbi Elazar’s opinion more likely to be correct?  Do you agree with this reasoning?

The Mitzvah of Hallel

Rambam, Mishnah Torah, Sefer Zmanim, Laws of Megillah and Hanukkah, Chapter 3, Halacha 5

For discussion:  This text and the texts that follow relate to commandments such as Hallel, that while they are ordained by the rabbis, we still say “who has sanctified us by His commandments and commanded us” when we bless on them.

According to this text, how is the practice of reciting Hallel different than the practice of observing the second day of holidays in the Diaspora?

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 23a

For discussion:  This text gives the Talmudic basis for reciting “vetzivanu” over Hallel and other similar mitzvot such as Hanukkah candles.  According to this text, what is the commandment we are observing when we do these acts?

Rambam, Mishnah Torah, Sefer Ahavah, Laws of Blessings , Chapter 11, Halacha 3

In what way are Hallel and Megillah obligatory while Eruv and handwashing are optional?

Does Rambam’s formulation here change your perception of Hallel?  When you say the blessing of Hallel, do you consider you are following the commandment to observe rabbinic prescriptions?  How does Rambam’s formulation affect your perception of the Mitzvah of Hallel?

When is Hallel Recited?

Babylonian Talmud, Arachin 10a-b

Sukkot and Passover – this passage relies on the fact that on Sukkot, each day has different sacrifices ordained, whereas the last days of Passover each have the same sacrifice.

According to the text, what do the days we complete the Hallel have in common with each other?  What is the reason we don’t complete the Hallel on the last days of Passover?

Which holidays are the most confusing with regard to whether to recite Hallel or not?

What different explanations are given for the days we don’t recite Hallel at all – Shabbat, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Purim?  Which gives the rabbis the most difficulty?

Rambam, Mishnah Torah, Sefer Zmanim, Laws of Megillah and Hanukkah, Chapter 3, Halacha 6

Does the Rambam’s summary add anything to the discussion from the Talmud in Arachin above?  Does he take a stand on any of the questions raised in the passage from Tractate Arachin?

What does the Ravad’s comment add to the question of the Mitzvah of reciting Hallel we discussed above?  Does his comment change the legal status of the Mitzvah of reciting Hallel?

Rambam, Mishnah Torah, Sefer Zmanim, Laws of Megillah and Hanukkah, Chapter 3, Halacha 7

We will learn more about the status of Hallel on Rosh Hodesh in future lessons.  Note that Ravad disagrees with Rambam here on the way we recite Hallel on Rosh Hodesh.  According to Rambam, we recite in public only and without a blessing.

How is Hallel Recited?

Rambam, Mishnah Torah, Sefer Zmanim, Laws of Megillah and Hanukkah, Chapter 3, Halacha 9

Why would the whole day be fit for reciting Hallel?  What does this say about Hallel’s relationship to the other Tefillot?

What would be the problem with reciting Hallel out of order?  With interruptions?  Why do you think it’s ok to take breaks during Hallel?

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