Rav Soloveitchik and Saying Hallel On Yom Ha’atzmaut


rav_jb_soloveitchikBy Professor Yitzchok Levine

I contacted Rabbi Shalom Carmy of YU who was a very close talmid of Rav Soloveitchik. He referred me to his article Teacher Not a Spokesman which was published in Mentor of Generations: Reflections of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik by Zev Eleff. In it Rabbi Carmy wrote:As Chairman of the RCA Halakha Commission, the Rav, in 1953 penned a responsum regarding the reading of Hallel on Yom haAtzmaut. He endorsed reading the mizmorei Tehillim that comprise Hallel if the community wanted to on the morning of Yom haAtzmaut. He strictly prohibited reciting a berakha on the Hallel. He also expressed reservations about reading these chapters at night, but did not advocate risking controversy over this practice. Subsequently, in several shiurim, he reiterated his objection to the berakha. At YU he was observed participating in minyanim that recited Hallel.

It has recently been alleged that on these occasions the Rav did not recite Hallel, but only pretended so as not to give offense. Offhand this contradicts the written record. There is no evidence that the Rav changed his mind on the subject. The argument that he had second thoughts about the religious significance of the State of Israel does not hold water, since the Rav’s Zionism was not rooted in messianic speculation or in illusory expectations for the religious transformation of the governing elites, but rather in the success of Israel in defending Jewish lives and facilitating vibrant religious institutions.

It is possible to resolve this contradiction. Perhaps the Rav held a siddur in front of his face and pretended to go along with the Hallel at night. Perhaps he was even present where the berakha was recited and chose not to protest. In 1978 he was asked his opinion during morning minyan in the dormitory, and when the hazzan prefaced Hallel with the berakha, he walked out. However, this open show of displeasure may have resulted from the fact that his ruling had been solicited and then flouted. (The person responsible later insisted there had been a misunderstanding.)

You can check this for yourself by going to http://books.google.com/books and then putting in Mentor of Generations and searching for Carmy. Then go to page 243 in the list that comes up. Almost all of Rabbi Carmy’s article is there.

{Professor Yitzchok Levine-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. is the word halakha maen somthing in hebrew?

    there is a similar word in hebrew Halachah is that from the same ”shoresh

  2. I often wonder what the point of these pots bout rav yoshe ber are all about. Either someone will comment saying he was a big tzaddik and the yeshivishe world has no clue what they are talking about or someone will say he was a major left wing zionist etc. How can this bring good in the world. He was an ADAM CHashuv to say the least. Can any good come out of discussing such an issue about the man?? No toeles. Please post this

  3. “Avtalion said: Sages, be careful with your words lest you incur the penalty of exile and are called to a place where the waters of learning are impure and the disciples that come after you drink of them and die; and the Heavenly Name is consequently profaned.”

  4. All Jews untainted by Zionist heresy experience the bitter realization of how the Zionist heretics worked relentlessly throughout the years to uproot the Jewish People from their religious faith, and even to bring about untold physical suffering through the prohibited provocations against the nations. The Zionists have been the ones who have enflamed the fire of hostility against the Jewish People in ways to numerous to enumerate.

    It is for this reason that many great rabbis called on faithful Jews to FAST on the Zionist Independence Day, and to beseech G-d Almighty to have mercy and grant peace to those people living under the Zionist regime.

  5. And the Brisker Rov, his cousin cried and said the establishment of the state is on order of the Egel. When the Chazon Ish said to him that Klal Yisroel will do teshuva he responded in anguish that the problem is that they don’t realize the depth of the avairah, so they will not do teshuva. As we see, his chochma was greater than nevuah,

    This was one of the key rifts and hashkofo differences between these decendants of R. Chaim.

    So whose yidishkeit are we espousing on this website? Are all viewpoints acceptable as long as there is a Jewish name attached? Where do we draw the line? Is Meshichism ok? Is Avi Weiss also an acceptable way of defining halacha? Or is this site just an entertainment vehicle and perhaps not to be taken seriously at all? The editors certainly are subject to the same responsibilities as we all are without a website.

  6. Above quotation from Pirkey Avos is usually explained as a warning – to be clear and strait in teachings and behavior, for leaders of Klal Yisroel.
    Rebbe of Satmar and Rav of Brisk are my leaders precisely because they didn’t have to manipulate or hide anything. They stand for what the learned from their predecessors strait and plain.

  7. I present to you the text of an email that was sent today by the organization known as Hakhel. Any questions – speak to them. I cannot answer them i can only share what I read.
    Today, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, is celebrated in some of our communities (in various ways), and not celebrated in others. We all know the different approaches and sentiments on the topic–and note that in the Third Beis Hamikdash described by Yecheskel there will be 12 entrances, for there can be different approaches to the one Avodah. What we may add is that however one does or does not celebrate, observe or perform–it should be done in accordance with the teachings of his ultimate Rav or Posek. There can be much misinformation or misguidance, and a person can conduct himself based upon what he believes to be correct, without further consultation–and this is the part that is wrong. As a case in point, we may mention that HaRav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, Z’tl, Rav of Boston, and Rosh HaYeshiva of RIETS, was in the Yeshiva on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut 5738 (1978)–one of the latter years of his giving Shiurim in the Yeshiva. He davened Shacharis in the Morgenstern dormitory minyan, which davened with Hallel. Later that morning, rather than giving Shiur on Perek HaZahav (the 4th perek of Bava Metziah which was being studied that Zeman in his Shiur), Rav Soloveitchik, obviously upset, instead gave Shiur on the importance of keeping the Tzuras HaTefillah intact. Shemone Esrei is followed by Chazaras Hashatz, which is followed by Tachanun, and then followed by Ashrei and U’va Letzion–and we do not have the right or privilege of changing that, he opined. Rav Soloveitchik continued that if one wanted to express his personal gratitude or thanks to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, he could recite the Chapters of Hallel in Tehillim (Chapters 113-118) after davening. Now, this is not to say that Rav Soloveitchik had a different opinion in earlier years or in later years (we do not know either way)–but it is to say that someone was not following his Rebbe if he knew what his opinion was at that time–and still recited Hallel in place of Tachanun in order to make his own personal statement. On the other hand, if one’s final Halachic authority is the Rabbanut, his practice should be different. This ruling will be different than that of the Badatz-Yerushalayim. What does your ultimate Rabbinic authority say? A person must look upwards for answers–not to himself, downwards or sideways.

  8. #6, Herzl died in 1904, so of course he didn’t say hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut. The Chazon Ish said that line in reference to Ben Gurion, not Herzl.

    R’ Ovadia Yosef does say Hallel, so those who do say it have on whom to rely.

  9. Hallel is said at YU minyanim and tachunun is not said. The YU roshei Yeshiva say Halel on this day. There was even a band on the YU campus and BBQ I dont think for a second Rav Soloveitchik would have agreed with that during Sefira.

  10. Yes Hallel, No Hallel, Yes Tachanun, No Tachanun, who cares. This is not what the day is about. It’s a day where we celebrate the great miracle of our return to our homeland after 2000 of being in exile. We each need to find our own way to say shira and give thanks. Some people learn torah others say hallel. This argument over the nitty gritty takes the focus off of the true order of the day, which is a day of giluy shechina, the day HKBH returned us to our land. Good Yom Tov.

  11. chaimz the Brisker Rav wasn’t his cousin, he was his Uncle, and he was certainly big enough to follow his view. The view from chaimz that this is on a par with Meshichisten or R’ Avi Weiss is an ill advised straw man.

    And Orthowatch.blogspot.com it wasn’t the Chazon Ish, it was Rav Kahaneman of Poneviz who said that about Yom Ha’atzmaut. Rav Kahaneman didn’t say Tachanun.

  12. The Satmar Rebbe and the Rav of Brisk, just like Rav Soloveitchik, were some of the greatest religious leaders in recent history, Jewish or otherwise. But none of that means that we should not celebrate our secular Jewish state where many great rabbis and their followers live and thrive, in places like Mea Shearim and Bnei Brak. May Israel have secure borders including all of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and please Hashem may we very soon merit the rebuilding of the Third and Final Temple.

  13. Although Yom Ha’atzmaut is the more zionistic day to celebrate, Yom Yerushalayim is the more halachikly acceptable day. R’ Ovadia Yosef recites hallel without a brachah today. However he includes a brachah on Yom Yerushalayim

  14. I said hallel for many years on this “holiday” and I also spent a year plus in gaza and lebanon in the idf back in the early 90’s and I’m still trying to do tshuva for my behavior. The smartest thing is to rely on the “einay ha’eida” and let them lead the way. I wish I had realized that before I got drawn into the cesspool of zionism.

  15. I was at YU in 1979 and I remember a sign telling what each minyan would do. It mentioned that the Rav held to say hallel without a bracha. Also, it should not be said after shmone esrei, but rather at the end of davening. I think it was done after ??? ????? and not after the ??? ?? ???.

  16. It is very important to have a mesorah to follow . On the issue of Avi Weiss, his title of Rabbah with self perpetuate since his now appointed Rabbah will be able to bestow that title on additional woman. Rabbi Weiss only agreed that he will not do so . This is what happens when mesorah breaks down.

  17. rabbi Soloveichik of Boston once walked thru the dorm in Y.U ON YOM HAATZMAUT when the chazzan started with hallel right after chazoras hashatz rabbi said they listen to me when it suits them but they know my opinion is that hallel should be said only after kaddish tiskabel[w/o a blessing] see Nefesh Harav from rabbi H. Shechter

  18. woe onto us that in this day in age when there are blaitant miracles in the land of israel, the jews of chutz laaretz pride themselves by posting “witty” anti zionist comments on this website. it brings tears to my eyes that there are people here who believe that they are “more frum” because the dont celebrate yom haatzmaut.

    you people dont understand what yom haatzmaut is. it is apparent that none of you have ever spent yom haatzmaut with a religious kehila in eretz yisrael. if you did you would see that it is a frum holiday full of hakaras hatov that we can have our own country, a country that gives more money to people who want to sit and learn torah than any other country in the world and a country where we can be proud jews ALWAYS.

    chag sameach
    – the guy who had a heartfelt yom haatzmaut and said hallel WITHOUT A BRACHA (because if you think that’s the ikur you have gotten caught up in tipshis)

  19. to the people ragging on yom haatzmaut — have you people ever recited birkas hamazon? ever paid attention to davening? HKBH CLEARLY cares about eretz yisroel and its about time you do as well.

  20. There is a major difference between wanting to return to Eretz Yisroel with Moshiach and live in true peace and adding Teffilos praising a secular medinah as the begining of Geulah.

  21. believe it or not the state of israel is a democracy, if you bnei chul would get over here and help us out r’ elyashiv could be the next prime minister. stop criticizing from the side and get involved. even if the gvt is secular ALL OF YOU still owe them a huge hakaras hatov because they give more money to people learning full time than anybody else in the world

  22. Whoever says Hallel on YH may have rabbis to rely on, but then, whoever says those people are Apikorsim have even more to rely on.