Hallel on Yom Yerushalayim
BY RABBI YOSEF ZVI RIMON
During the days before the Six-Day War in 1967, the security situation in Israel was very tense. Arab nations were preparing for war with the State of Israel, and the terrified nation feared the worst – that an attack would wreak havoc and destruction throughout the country. But when the war broke out, we saw open miracles: the IDF destroyed most of the Egyptian air force on the ground, and within six days, we conquered half the Sinai Peninsula, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the Golan Heights. It was a brilliant victory!
To mark this victory, in which we were saved from annihilation, and to mark the liberation of Jerusalem from 2,000 years of the yoke of foreign rulers, we celebrate on the 28th of Iyar, the day Jerusalem was liberated.
Many halachic discussions relating to Yom Yerushalayim are similar to those regarding Yom HaAtzmaut: establishing a day of joy, reciting Hallel with a blessing, and whether the celebration overrides the laws of mourning that apply during Sefirat HaOmer.
As a general rule, the halachic decisions regarding Yom Yerushalayim are even simpler than those regarding Yom HaAtzmaut. On Yom HaAtzmaut, one can debate whether the Independence War was a miracle worthy of commemorating with Hallel recited with a blessing. The miracle was not complete, our enemies continued to try to destroy us after the war, and the spiritual situation in Israel at the time was far from ideal. But on Yom Yerushalayim, it is easier to rule that Hallel should be recited with a blessing, for the military victory was overwhelming, we were saved from death, and we conquered Jerusalem, our holy city and the source of our glory.
In the words of the Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Isser Yehuda Unterman zt”l:
“When it comes to celebrations and joy, there are certainly some superior aspects to Yom HaAtzmaut, the day that symbolizes the very existence of the State, and this day will always be the birthday of the State of Israel. We hope that our State will flourish and prosper, absorb the ingathering of our exiles, and go from success to success to pave the way to our complete redemption. However, when it comes to reciting Hallel with a blessing, Yom Yerushalayim takes priority, for on the 28th of Iyar, we saw open miracles: the mighty staff of our enemies utterly collapsed in just two days, and we liberated Jerusalem and the surrounding cities. To commemorate a day of open miracles, we are obligated to recite Hallel with a blessing.” (Shevet MiYehudah, Part 2, Orach Chayim 59:2)
And so the Chief Rabbinate of Israel established, from the very beginning, that Hallel should be recited with a blessing on Yom Yerushalayim, and this is the accepted view today.
Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon is Head of Mizrachi’s Educational Advisory Board nad Rabbinic Council. He serves as the Chief Rabbi of Gush Etzion, Rosh Yeshivah of the Jerusalem College of Technology and is the Founder and Chairman of Sulamot and La’Ofek.