75 words for 75 years of Israel – Hallel/Praise

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

הַלֵּל

HALLEL

HA-LEL

PRAISE

“Let everything that has breath praise God, Hallelujah!” (Psalms 150:6)

כל הנשמה תהלל יה הללויה

“Every day I will bless You and praise Your name forever and ever.” (Psalms 145:2)

בכל יום אברכך ואהללה שמך לעולם ועד

Hallel, the Hebrew word for “praise,” is the linguistic root of the most common word used in the worship of God by people around the world: Hallelujah!

In Judaism there is a special collection of Psalms (113-118) that collectively are called Hallel. The Hallel Psalms are sung in joyous fashion on special holidays such as Passover, Sukkot, and Hanukkah.

The primary goal of Hallel is recognizing God’s ability to override the laws of nature and perform miracles and acts of salvation on our behalf. Although we are meant to view every phenomenon in nature – from the flowering of a rose to the rainfall that gives life to the land – as an act of God, it’s easy to become used to nature and forget that God is the hidden Mover behind it all. And so God, on occasion, performs miracles to remind us of the truth that all of nature is really in His hands. The Baal Shem Tov, the great 18th century founder of the Hasidic movement, taught that if we would understand that every moment we are alive is indeed a miracle, we would praise God all day long, everyday.

By praising God, we recognize the goodness that is in the world and in our own lives. Focusing on the good enables us to banish any sense of despair or worry. As modern psychology teaches, being positive and seeing the good breeds more positivity and goodness in a person’s life.

In his Book of Psalms, King David taught us how to open our hearts and truly praise God with all of our being. It’s fitting that the last of the 150 psalms ends with the verse, “Let everything that has breath praise God, Hallelujah!” (Psalms 150:6).

The Israel Bible Team

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