Hallel - The Song and the Echocardiogram
By Rabbi Moshe Mayerfeld
Words take on a whole new dimension when they are put to music. Songs evoke powerful emotions that can have an everlasting impact. Plato said “Every heart sings a song.”
Hallel is the penultimate stage our epic journey. After a night of insightful questions, intense discussions and meaningful answers accompanied by mouthfuls of Matzah and Maror all washed down with four glasses of wine, we break into heartfelt song.
We serenade our Seder with songs of thanksgiving for safely delivering us out of slavery and a express our passionate longing for a safe arrival to the land of Israel, and a heartfelt prayer for Israel to achieve its potential for greatness and morality.
Singing has it’s time and place. The angels are told by God that they could not sing as the Egyptians drowned. Shortly afterwards the Jews sing the famous Song at Sea in celebration of their miraculous redemption.
Music is in many ways the language of emotion. The Jewish journey has different psalms and different songs for each stage of that journey. Even within the Hallel that we read or sing on Seder night, are different tones expressing different feelings.
There are times for lows and times for spiritual peaks. Sometimes they can be brought together in a single verse: Even ma’asu habonim, hayta lerosh pinah. “A stone that was disregarded by the builders, became the cornerstone of the new building”. Out of the slavery of Egypt comes the redemption. Then there are times when our growth needs to hold steady.
If you didn’t know better and you looked at an echocardiogram, you would think that the patient was in real trouble when the monitor beeps and bounces up and down. Whereas, if you saw a flat line, you would think all was calm and fine.
The songs of Hallel teach us that the combination of the highs and the lows, are necessary to succeed in anything.
The message of the Torah is clear and harmonious. Keep the balance. Challenge yourself to become greater than you think is possible, then allow the growth to become part of who you are. You will see the tune of life help you in all of your endeavours and you will begin to really sing.