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Shabbat Pesach 5779

Ein Ayah: Hallel and Nirtza

(condensed from Olat Reiya, Rav Kooks Commentary on the Haggada)

Hallel: When the state of life follows a straight path and all stay on the beaten path, then matters are set so that especially enlightening times will enable great spiritual elevation. This is a time at which one can go beyond the framework of normal life, to praise the Name of Hashem with a special power of an abnormally uplifted spirit.

However, exceptional uplifting of the soul should not accompany man on a regular basis. This is because the proper balance between the physical and the spiritual is the most precious blessing of peace that man has. For this reason, one who reads the psalms of Hallel every day is considered a blasphemer (Shabbat 118b).

It is unpleasant to note that recognizing Hashem naturally takes a person out of his spiritual comfort zone, which is not good even if it is with the intention to raise himself above the standard of spirituality in his life. Staying indefinitely in a situation of abnormality, even if it is in a good situation, will turn into a nuisance and even a type of sickly situation, which creates an opposite effect to that which is created when there is proper elevation of the soul.

In contrast, when elevation comes from time to time, after one properly lived his normal life in sanctity, as even normal life is by nature pure, then it is inestimably beautiful when one sings special songs of praise. It enlightens one’s life beyond the moment of the praise and serves as a pillar of light that gives off a special aura even after the moment is over. This impression lasts until the time comes for a new impression that elevates the spirit, one which complements the indulging and restfulness of the special time. Then one will enjoy his contact with Hashem, through thanks and songs of praise.


Nirtza­ (having the Seder accepted in good will): The accumulation of matters that make an impression – the general and the specific, the natural and the intellectual, the critical and those that relate to broader matters – has a pleasant and holy effect on the nation and all its constituents. It sets a desirable nature, in which one does not require further steps to strengthen himself. Rather, it already becomes part of one’s gentle nature so that all of his senses and strength go in the direction of the loftiest goal. Then, the recognition of the actions of the Creator of all, Who stands behind Israel, brings one to the point that he does not only choose to follow the way of Hashem. Rather, he is actually nirtza – he acts in the desired manner without having to put inordinate effort into it.

One should understand the depth of the character of the soul of a Jew, and understand how the Torah leads those who follow it in the most complete manner, so that his soul is the result of the universal and individual natural spirit. The nature of the soul is to desire to be free to be tied and connected to the tendencies of universal inclinations. It strives to be exposed to the divine light and Hashem’s goodness to His nation and all that He created in His mercy for goodness and blessing. This is the goal of freedom, which is an eternal pillar, based on Hashem’s promise that lasts forever. The fruit of Hashem’s connection to His nation is that He desires it and adorns its righteous people with His salvation. 

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