Rav Avigdor Miller on Are We Sad That The Mitzri’yim Drowned

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Q:
Why do we say only only Hallel Katan, half Hallel, on Pesach?


A:
On Pesach – on the first two days, and the nights as well – we say the whole Hallel. You say the whole Hallel, don’t you?
Q:
Yes, I do

A:
Alright. So it’s not Hallel Katan. It’s not half Hallel, it’s the whole Hallel you’re saying.
Q:
But the last days of Pesach we say only Hallel Katan. Isn’t that because of מעשה ידי טובעים בים ואתם אומרים שירה (Megillah 10b)? Aren’t we sad that Mitzri’yim were drowned and we therefore don’t want to sing to Hashem? 

A:
Oh, that’s a different story. Why on the other days of Pesach do we only say half Hallel? And the answer is not because of this, not because of מעשה ידי טובעים בים. There is no Gemara that says that that is the reason for not saying Hallel on Pesach. I know that it’s frequently quoted and people think it’s a Gemara. There is no Gemara to that effect.

The reason why we say only half Hallel is because there was a takana that on the first day of Pesach – for us the first two days – that we have to say Hallel. There is no reason, no takana, to say Hallel on the other days. The other days it was only a minhag to say Hallel. And they couldn’t say the whole Hallel because there was no takana, so they said half Hallel. Half Hallel is only a minhag –  the takana was only the first day.

Now on Sukkos the takana was to say Hallel every day, because on Sukkos every day there was a different korban tzibur brought in the Beis Hamikdash. Every day of Sukkos the korban was different. Every day was something new and special, like its own yomtiv, so each day was also made special with the whole Hallel. Unlike Pesach which had the same korban every day. And that’s the difference, that’s why we say only half Hallel on all the other days of Pesach.

But this reason that you give, you heard it from others, and I’ve heard it as well many times, but there is no real talmudic authority that says that. Maybe in some sefer it’s written, but we have a right to discount it.
TAPE # 26 (April 1973)

Q:
The Gemara says that when the Mitzri’yim were drowning in the Yam Suf and the malachim wanted to sing shira to Hashem, Hashem didn’t let them. He said מעשה ידי טובעים בים ואתם אומרים שירה – “My handiwork is drowning and you dare sing songs?!”  Do we say only Half-Hallel on Pesach because of מעשה ידי טובעים בים, because we are somewhat sad that Hashem’s handiwork was destroyed in the Yam Suf?

A:
No, no. We don’t go along with that thought. That was said for the malachim – the malachim weren’t created to grow greater and greater in Awareness of Hashem, so why should they sing to Hashem when His handiwork is drowning? But we, we’re different. Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants us to sing to Him in gratitude when He takes nekama for us, because that’s one the most important methods of gaining tangible awareness of Him.

Now there’s no question that it’s a loss – it’s Hashem’s handiwork drowning in the sea. It’s human beings that are drowning! They’re not just a slabs of meat. It was people, with families. Hashem was drowning people for our benefit. And therefore it is incumbent upon us that we recognize that Hashem is expending his creatures for us. But not so that we should feel in any way sad that the Egyptians are drowning – only to realize how vital it is to make use of this event. Hashem wants us to sing to Him. That’s why He did it. And if Moshe Rabeinu hadn’t led the Bnei Yisroel in shira, Hashem would have said: “My handiwork is drowning in the sea and you’re not singing song to Me?!”

But that’s not the reason for saying half Hallel though. The reason we don’t say the whole Hallel is because of the korbanos. That’s the real reason. There’s no such thing as half Hallel al pi din. It’s either all of Hallel or no Hallel. Half Hallel is only a minhag. Only that to justify the minhag they invented this thought. But it’s not our thought. It’s a thought that Hashem told the malachim.

And I’ll explain it again because it’s misunderstood. We are very happy with what happened to Mitzrayim. We sing every day Az Yashir. Even on Chol Ha’moed we sing Az Yashir. Not half Az Yashir, the whole thing!  And we’re very happy. It says בשמחה רבה! We sing the song of gratitude with great happiness. We sing ירדו  במצולות כמו אבן. They went down into the depths like stone, like lead. We’re very happy that they drowned. We sing and we rejoice that they drowned. We’re not sorry at all that they drowned.

And when Haman was hung up, nobody was going to be sorry for Haman. And all the resha’im of the world are the same. והזדים מהרה תעקר ותשבר ותמגר ותכניע במהרה בימינו. In that bracha we say מהרה three times. More than we say for anything else. And that’s because we have to get rid of the reshaim.

And therefore Dovid Hamelech didn’t say הללויה until he saw the punishment of the wicked.  Dovid waited until kepitel קד, he waited till the 104th chapter to say הללויה. All those kepitlech he said, but he couldn’t say הללויה. Only when he came to יתמו חטאים מן הארץ ורשעים עוד אינם – “The wicked be destroyed from the land, and there will be no more reshaim.” Ohhh, now I can say ברכי נפשי את השם הללויה. Now I can praise Hashem (Brachos 9b).

So now you know that the real happiness is not when Hashem does us favors. That’s not enough. We have to see the revenge. When Moshiach will come it’s not enough that we’ll go back to Eretz Yisroel. That’s not enough. We’ll have to see the nekamah on the gentiles for what they did to us. Especially in Europe. We must see the nekamah. And it’s going to be a tremendous nekamah. לעשות נקמה בגוים תוכחות בלאומים. Hakodosh Boruch Hu,  in order to show that He’s a shofet tzedek, must justify his mishpat by meeting out a tremendous punishment that they deserve to get.
And it will happen, it will happen.
TAPE # E-182 (April 1999)

Q:
The Rav was saying tonight that the drowning of the Egyptians at the Reed Sea was to give the Am Yisroel a shot-in-the-arm of emunah, and that their happiness and singing to Hashem was what Hashem expected from them. But can’t it be that this was a specific situation where their emunah was lacking so they needed that injection of Awareness of Hashem? But maybe in general where emunah is not lacking, one shouldn’t rejoice at the downfall of the wicked, because we believe that the ikar nekama, the true revenge, will take place in the next world? 

A:
This gentleman is bringing up the question that perhaps the reason that they were justified at that time in viewing the spectacle of nekama was because their emunah was flagging.

And the answer is definitely yes. Absolutely. Only that we have to understand that emunah is always flagging. There never is a true and sufficient amount of emunah. Because we are expected all our lives to climb the ladder up to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and feel more and more His immanence – to become closer and closer to Him. So it’s never enough. So even if we would talk about Moshe Rabeinu himself, who was closest to Hashem of any man, we could also say about him that in a certain sense that he requires more injections of emunah.

And that’s what he asked for. He said הראני נא את כבודך – “I want more,” he said. And therefore everyone in this life has to labor to get more and more emunah. Because there’s never enough. In a certain sense our emunah is always lagging, and we always need emunah injections. There is never a situation where a person has enough emunah.
TAPE # 26 (April 1973)