AskDefine | Define hallel

Dictionary Definition

Hallel n : (Judaism) a chant of praise (Psalms 113 through 118) used at Passover and Shabuoth and Sukkoth and Hanukkah and Rosh Hodesh

Extensive Definition

Hallel ( "Praise [God]") is a Jewish prayer -- a verbatim recitation from Psalms 113-118, which is used for praise and thanksgiving that is recited by observant Jews on Jewish holidays. In Arabic the expression is used similarly usually with the intention of saying "La Elah illa Allah" meaning "there is no God but Allah".

Hallel and the Jewish holy days

Hallel consists of six Psalms (113-118), which are said as a unit, on joyous occasions. Hallel is usually chanted aloud as part of Shacharit (the morning prayer service) following the Shacharit's Shemoneh Esreh ("The Eighteen", the main prayer). It is also recited during the evening prayers the first night of Passover, except by Lithuanian and German Jews.
These occasions include the following: The three pilgrim festivals: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot (the "major" Jewish holy days, mentioned in the Torah) and Hanukkah and Rosh Chodesh (beginnings of the new month). Many Jewish communities, especially those that identify with religious Zionism, recite Hallel on Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Israeli Independence Day). Some also recite it on Yom Yerushalayim (commemorating the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967).
On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Hallel is not said at all, because as the Talmud states (Arachin 10b): "Is it seemly for the king to be sitting on His Throne of Judgment, with the Books of Life and Death open before Him, and for the people to sing joyful praises to Him?"
Pesach, like Sukkot, has the structure of "main holiday," followed by "Intermediate Days" (Chol ha-Moed), followed by "main holiday." Since Passover involved only a partial redemption of the Jews and the destruction of Egypt, only "Half" (or Partial) Hallel is recited on all of the last six days of Pesach. Full Hallel is recited for the entirety of Sukkot.
Partial Hallel is recited on Rosh Chodesh because it was introduced at a much later time than the major holidays.
No Hallel, neither "Full" nor "Partial," is recited on Purim, despite the fact that there was a miraculous salvation, for several reasons:
  • The miracle did not occur in the Land of Israel and, for "minor" holidays, only those occurring in Israel merit the recitation of Hallel.
  • Even after the Miracle of Purim, the Jews remained subjects of the Persian Empire, whereas on Hanukkah, as a result of the victory of the Maccabees, the Jews gained their independence from the Seleucid kings.
  • Reading the Megilla (Book of Esther) is a substitute for Hallel.


Hallel is said in one of two forms: Full Hallel and Partial Hallel.

Full Hallel

Full Hallel (or הלל שלם Hallel Shalem in Hebrew Complete Hallel) consists of all six Psalms of the Hallel, in their entirety. It is a Jewish prayer recited on all seven days of Sukkot, on Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah), on Shavuot, on the first two days of Pesach (only the first day in Israel), and on the eight days of Hanukkah.
Full Hallel consists of: Psalm 113, Psalm 114, Psalm 115:1-11,12-18, Psalm 116:1-11,12-19, Psalm 117, Psalm 118.
A blessing is recited at the beginning and end of Full Hallel.

Partial Hallel

Chatzi Hallel (חצי הלל Half Hallel or Partial Hallel) ("chatzi is "half" in Hebrew)does not include parts of the "Full Hallel": verses 1-11 of Psalm 115, nor those verses from Psalm 116. It is recited on the last six days of Pesach and on Rosh Chodesh.
While Ashkenazi Jews recite a blessing at the beginning and end of Partial Hallel, some Sephardi Jews do not, particularly if the blessing they recite at the beginning of Full Hallel is ligmor et hahallel (to complete the Hallel) instead of likro et hahallel (to read the Hallel) as recited by Ashkenazi Jews.


Hallel, as mentioned above, is a Hebrew word meaning "praise". The Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite letters h are reconstructed to have been called hillul "jubilation", and were based on the hieroglyph A28 It was replaced by a predecessor of the Hebrew letter He .

Musical Settings

Psalms from the Hallel have been set to music many times, notably: Psalm 113 Psalm 117 Psalm 118


hallel in French: Hallel
hallel in Hebrew: קריאת ההלל
hallel in Hungarian: Hálél
hallel in Dutch: Halleel
hallel in Polish: Hallel
hallel in Yiddish: הלל (דאווענען)
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