Tuesday, October 29, 2013

one year since Hurricane Sandy -- hallel and hoda'ah

Today is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.  The Chayei Adam (155) writes that a person who experiences a miracle, and certainly an entire city that experiences a miracle, may institute a celebration of that day as a personal holiday of Purim.  A seudah made to thank Hashem on that occassion is considered a seudas mitzvah.  The Chayei Adam relates ma’aseh rav how in his town a fire broke out, and despite the tragic loss of life, the damage could have been much worse -- people who might have been harmed escaped.  Therefore, he instituted that the anniversary of the fire be dedicated  as a day of teshuvah, and the day afterwards as a day of celebration.

Chazal tell us that Chanukah was instituted as a day of both hallel and hoda’ah.  The Sefas Emes asks: don't these two expressions mean the same thing – giving thanks to G-d.  Why do Chazal use both expressions when one would suffice?

Sefas Emes answers that hallel and hoda’ah in fact mean different things.  Hallel is praise for what everyone recognizes immediately as a miraculous, wonderful outcome; hoda’ah is what you realize to be good only upon reflection and the passage of time.  In the story of Chanukah, the defeat of the Greeks and the miracle of the menorah were immediately appreciated as great events that required the recitation of hallel.  But that’s only half of the picture.  Chazal are telling us that  the subjugation by the Greeks, which at the time seemed to be a horrible gezeirah, is something that also needs to be appreciated as chasdei Hashem.  That perspective only comes with time and reflection; that perspective gives rise to hoda'ah (more in the Sefas Emes here, and see this post on the relationship between viduy and hoda’ah that he alludes to.)

For some, the storm passed with little damage and it was possible to say hallel immediately afterwards.  For others, hopefully this is a day of hoda’ah, of coming to grips with the loss incurred and being able to see chasdei Hashem in retrospect.  


  1. Thus, the gemora says לשנה אחרת קבעום...בהלל והודאה Not שנה הבאה but שנה אחרת
    The process of truly internalizing this can take years.

    1. sorry to spoil the vort "great unknown" but l'fee the chiluk between halel and hodaa only hodaa should be mentioned in that quote. how do you make sense of lshana acheres kvaum legabay hallel.

    2. Excellent point. On another level, the final conquest of the Greeks did not occur for several more years [or so I recall from Artscroll sources] , and thus Hallel may have been inappropriate at that point. Akatai Avdei Yovon, so to speak.

      Of course, there is another problem: the war was primarily against the mis'yavnim. Look around: the mis'yavnim apparently won.

      BTW, I don't recognize the concept of spoiled verter. I spent enough years having some of my gems shot down, vivisected, stapled, spindled, mutilated, and otherwise dissed, that I'm quite comfortable with it. In fact, I was overjoyed when one of my talmidim would do it.

  2. brisker rav says there are 2 types of hallel: hallel of shirah when you experience the nes, and hallel that comes afterwards as a commemoration of the nes.

  3. I think Reb Chaim Brisker says there's another type of praise, ואני בחסדך בטחתי יגל לבי בישועתיך, which he understands to mean that one is certain of the ישועה so he rejoices beforehand.