As a result of writing these posts over the years, friends will sometimes come over to discuss a Shul Politics moment or topic. The topic often highlights the innate tension between the needs and rights of the individual and the needs and rights of the many. However, it has also helped me focus on the times when the Shul is hitting on all cylinders and comes together in a great spiritual moment. Hallel on Succos is one of those amazing occasions.
It starts towards the end of Shemoneh Esrai of Shacharis when the rustling begins and the members begin to gather their lulavim and esrogim. Then comes the announcement reminding everybody that we will wave the lulavim together in accordance with our Shul’s Ashkenazic custom. This is followed by a short break giving those who haven’t yet done so, the opportunity to say the brocha over the daled minim.
Hallel begins and everybody is reciting Hallel and holding their daled minim at attention. The chazzan for the occasion is usually more melodically talented and uses the occasion for more singing. Then towards the end of Hallel comes the recitation of Hodu and Ana along with the waving. Looking around, you can see that everybody is totally involved in the moment as we acknowledge our dependency on Hashem and we ask for his outright help and assistance in our endeavors. It’s a magnificent moment.
The Ramban at the end of Parsha Bo, states:
“For the objective of all the commandments is that we should believe in G-d and acknowledge to Him that He created us.
In fact this is the purpose of creation itself, for we have no other explanation of creation. And G-d has no desire, except that man should know and acknowledge the G-d that created him. And the purpose of raising our voices in prayer and the purpose of Shuls and the merit of communal prayer is that people should have a place where they can gather and acknowledge that G-d created them and caused them to be and they can publicize this and declare before Him, “We are your creations”.
On Succos all the work we put into our well functioning Shuls achieves its purpose as we collectively sing, praise and wave in acknowledgement that we are Hashem’s creations and we look to Him for success in everything we do.